No golf please, you're soldiers!

South Koreans punished for teeing off

Golfmagic correspondent
Fri, 21 Nov 2008

Golfers practising in Osung, South Korea

Dozens of South Korean soldiers face punishment for playing golf while supposedly on duty. The defence ministry said 15 officers - all military reservists - are to appear before courts martial while 40 others have already been punished.

"They were all found to have played golf frequently while on duty," a spokesman after an investigation lasting at least a month. A spokesman declined to give details.

The 680,000-strong regular armed forces are backed up by three million former soldiers who face eight years of duty as reservists, after finishing their obligatory military service.

South Korea is the fastest growing golf community along with Thailand, and has several world stars, especially in the women's game. But it is still seen by many among its population andsome military leaders as a sport for the idle rich and for people seeking to peddle influence.

In 2006 Prime Minister Lee Hae-Chan stepped down after a being spotted playing golf with businessmen. It sparked a criminal investigation into alleged influence-peddling, while in 2007, South Korea's air force chief resigned after playing golf while the rest of the country was mourning the death of a Korean soldier in Afghanistan.

It's reckoned by some researchers that golf is played by at at least two million of the country's 48 million population.



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