South Korean Skater’s Premature Celebration Costs Him Gold Medal and Leads to Military Service Penalty
A South Korean roller skater, Jung Cheol-won, missed out on a gold medal at the Asian Games due to his premature celebration, which cost him the victory by just 0.01 seconds.
As a result of this error, he now faces an additional penalty of 18 months to two years of military service. Taiwan’s Huang Yu-lin secured the gold medal in the Men’s 3000m roller skate relay when Jung Cheol-won, believing he had won, celebrated prematurely a few feet from the finish line, allowing Huang to win.
In South Korea, all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 28 are required to serve in the military for approximately 1.5 to 2 years as part of the country’s defense efforts.
However, exemptions are granted to athletes and artists who have promoted national prestige through achievements such as winning international or national awards, Olympic medals, or gold medals at the Asian Games.
Jung Cheol-won’s mistake not only cost him and his team a gold medal but also made him and another teammate, Choi In-ho, eligible for South Korea’s military draft. The news of their eligibility was met with visible dissatisfaction by the team when they received their silver medals.
Jung expressed regret for his error, acknowledging that he had let his guard down too early and apologizing to his teammates and fans. Meanwhile, Taiwan’s gold medalist, Huang, revealed that he noticed Jung’s lapse and drew on lessons from his trainer to secure victory by one hundredth of a second.
While exceptional South Korean athletes and artists can secure exemptions from military service in the case of extraordinary success, it is rare for even top representatives to avoid the draft.
Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heung-min, for example, secured gold for the national team at the 2018 Asian Games but later had to complete three weeks of basic military training in 2020.
Similarly, members of the K-pop group BTS, despite their international success, are currently serving in South Korea’s armed forces. Suga, a BTS member, started his mandatory military duty last month as a social service agent.
While the typical age range for mandatory service is 18-28, high-profile figures can defer their service until the age of 30 in exceptional circumstances.
It’s worth noting that individuals with physical and mental issues can carry out their duties at non-military facilities, such as welfare centers, community service centers, and post offices, for 21 months.
Suga’s alternative service is believed to be related to shoulder surgery he underwent in 2020, and active-duty soldiers typically begin with five weeks of basic military training at boot camps, while those performing alternative service undergo three weeks of basic military training, which they can schedule at their convenience.