Golfer Bae Sang-moon under investigation for military service

April 23, 2015
Sang-Moon Bae, right, of South Korea, prepares to hit on the ninth fairway during the first round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament in Hilton Head Island, S.C., Thursday, April 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Sang-Moon Bae, right, of South Korea, prepares to hit on the ninth fairway during the first round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament in Hilton Head Island, S.C., Thursday, April 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

By Jun Ji-hye

The Military Manpower Administration (MMA) made clear Thursday that PGA golfer Bae Sang-moon is the subject of an investigation for his alleged dodging of mandatory military service.

“Bae has not returned home, although the period of permission for his overseas travel has expired,” the MMA said in a statement. “As the agency filed a complaint with the prosecution against Bae, he will be questioned when he returns home, and will not be permitted to go overseas in accordance with the Military Service Law.”

The clarification came after some media reported that there would be a way for the 28-year-old to delay enlistment when he comes back to Korea.

The MMA said that would only apply if he returned home before the period of permitted overseas travel expired. That would have enabled him to legally delay enlistment to participate in international tournaments, it said.

It noted that is no longer possible since he should have come back to Korea by the end of January following the expiration of the period of permission on Dec. 31.

The MMA took the legal action in early February.

The agency also refuted reports that Bae extended the period to stay overseas after getting a green card from the United States in 2013.

“Bae has never asked for the permitted extension from outside the country,” it said. “He has never asked for such permission on the grounds of getting a green card either.”

The MMA added that even after receiving the green card, Bae stayed in Korea for 214 days and went to a domestic postgraduate school, where he completed three semesters.

“He also participated in several domestic golf championships. All things considered, the agency did not expect him to emigrate,” it said.

Bae rose to stardom in October when he won the Frys.com Open.

On Dec. 29, the MMA office in Daegu, Bae’s hometown, reported that it would not allow him to extend his overseas travel.

Following the decision, Bae filed an administrative lawsuit with Daegu District Court, asking the court to direct the Daegu MMA to withdraw its decision.

During the first hearing Wednesday, Bae’s lawyer said, “Bae asked the MMA to extend his overseas travel permit to participate in PGA tour events, which amounts to his workplace. The MMA should grant his request in accordance with the rule of equality, considering that other athletes have been allowed to extend the period for similar reasons.”

All able-bodied Korean men over 18 are subject to conscription as South Korea is still technically at war with North Korea.

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