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World South Korean Jehovah's Witnesses begin prison work terms

11:45  26 october  2020
11:45  26 october  2020 Source:   msn.com

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And unlike Jehovah ’ s Witnesses who served prison terms for their beliefs, they will have no criminal record to trail them for the rest of their lives. South Korea has imprisoned more conscientious objectors than any other country. Its Military Service Act requires up to three years in prison for those

Jehovah ’ s Witnesses have been present in Korea for over 100 years and have been able to worship freely. The only significant challenge faced by Witnesses in South Korea is the government’s relentless prosecution of conscientious objectors to military service.

Dozens of South Korean Jehovah's Witnesses in suits and ties lined up to enter a prison on Monday -- to begin training as administrators, rather than the jail terms they used to face as conscientious objectors.

a man wearing a suit and tie standing in a parking lot: The South remains technically at war with the North and maintains a compulsory conscription system to defend itself © Ed JONES The South remains technically at war with the North and maintains a compulsory conscription system to defend itself

The South remains technically at war with the North and maintains a compulsory conscription system to defend itself against Pyongyang's 1.2 million-strong army.

For decades the only alternative was conviction and jail, and with it lifelong stigma, but in total tens of thousands of conscientious objectors, many of them Jehovah's Witnesses, have been willing to pay that price to adhere to their beliefs.

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Jehovah ’ s Witnesses . Select language English Log In (opens new window). Nonsan-si, Chungnam, South Korea —Sharing the Bible’s message with a householder who is collecting food from storage jars.

This is an authorized Web site of Jehovah ’ s Witnesses . It is a research tool for publications in various languages produced by Jehovah ’ s Witnesses . Both governments claim to represent all of Korea . On June 25, 1950, with the invasion of the south by the north, the three-year Korean War began .

a group of people sitting in a room: A landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2018 accepted religious and moral principles as legitimate reasons to oppose military service © Ed JONES A landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2018 accepted religious and moral principles as legitimate reasons to oppose military service

A new scheme for those who object to bearing arms on religious or moral grounds went into effect on Monday, requiring them to work as prison administrators for three years -- twice the length of normal conscription.

The first to benefit were 63 Jehovah's Witnesses who arrived at the Daejeon Correctional Facility south of Seoul in cheerful mood, exchanging joyful hugs with family members.

"The sacrifices of countless people" had made his alternative service possible, said Shin Dong-gil, 26.

"This moment has come to us because of those brothers who faithfully defended their beliefs," he told AFP.

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The work of Jehovah ’ s Witnesses was banned not only by the Nazi party in Germany but also by governments in Australia, Canada, and other lands. When these actions landed them in labor camps, Witnesses sought out converts among their fellow prisoners .”

Jehovah ’ s Witnesses do not have a paid clergy in their Christian congregation. In addition to their work in the congregation, most elders also have secular jobs and family responsibilities that require their time and attention.

It was a marked contrast to the start of normal military conscription, when young men with freshly-shaved heads and tearful eyes bid farewell to their loved ones at the entrance to boot camp.

All able-bodied South Korean men are obliged to serve for 18 months before they turn 30, in a rite of passage that -- while sometimes resented -- can form lifelong bonds with fellow soldiers.

Avoiding the duty in a conformist society faced with the world's last remaining Cold War conflict can bring with it employment consequences and lifelong social stigma.

But a landmark Supreme Court ruling in 2018 accepted religious and moral principles as legitimate reasons to oppose military service, paving the way for conscientious objectors to avoid becoming convicts.

The 63 who began their duties on Monday will undergo a three-week course before being dispatched to jailhouses around the country, where they will be entitled to the same pay as regular conscripts.

Shin was accompanied to the Daejeon facility by his brother-in-law Lee Yang-sub, himself a former inmate as a conscientious objector.

"I am really happy that my brother-in-law is able to take part in this alternative service," Lee told AFP, adding he had "no regrets" over having to serve time for his faith.

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This is interesting!