Heung Min Son celebrates winning Asian Games 2018

Premier League Footballer Avoids Prospect Of Military Service

South Korea's Heung-Min Son has avoided compulsory military service after his nation beat Japan in the Asian Games final on Saturday.

Heung Min Son celebrates winning Asian Games 2018

Heung-Min Son won a gold medal on Saturday (Picture: PA).

A Premier League footballer has avoided the prospect of compulsory military service after he won a gold medal with his country at the Asian Games on Saturday.

South Korea beat Japan in the final, with gold medalists in that tournament and the Olympics giving athletes an exemption from serving.

However, despite Heung-Min Son now being exempt, he may be required to do several weeks of basic military training.

In South Korea, which is still technically at war with North Korea, it is mandatory for men to complete 21 months of military service before turning 28-years-old.

At 26-years-old, the Asian Games final on Saturday represented one of Son's final opportunities to grant himself military immunity.

Heung Min Son playing for South Korea at the Asian Games (Picture: PA).
Heung-Min Son playing for South Korea at the Asian Games (Picture: PA).

In the UK, National Service ended in 1960, with the final National Servicemen leaving the forces in May 1963.

Earlier this year, a nationwide survey found 72% of people who expressed a view believed young people should not be able to join the Army until they are 18.

A Forces News poll found the opposite - out of more than 2,000 people surveyed, 80% said 16-years-old was not too young to join the service.

In 2002, members of the South Korean side which reached the semi-finals of the World Cup were granted military immunity.

During his career so far, Son has also won the Asian Footballer of The Year award twice, became the Premier League's highest Asian goalscorer and has even led his nation out at a World Cup.

A teary eyed Son after South Korea were knocked out in the group stage at the World Cup (Picture: PA).
Son after South Korea were knocked out in the World Cup group stage (Picture: PA).

Despite not winning a medal until now, the achievement was seen of such significance that players managed to avoid the service, including former Manchester United midfielder Ji-Sung Park and former Spurs left back Young-Pyo Lee.

Former Arsenal forward Park Chu-young, earned a 10-year-delay on his military service by obtaining a Monaco residency - however, rules have since tightened up, according to the BBC.

Newcastle's South Korean midfielder Ki Sung-Yueng only had to complete four weeks of military service after winning a bronze medal at London 2012 - a side Son was blocked from joining up with by his then-club, Bayer Leverkusen. 

Fans of Son and his South Korean teammates organised an online petition to have them exempted from completing military service after their 2018 World Cup campaign, which included a 2-0 win against then-reigning champions Germany.

Ji-Sung Park against Manchester City in 2012 (Picture: PA).
Ji-Sung Park against Manchester City in 2012 (Picture: PA).

The relationship between football and the military has also extended to sharing training methods over recent months.

England footballers took advice from the Royal Marines prior to their World Cup campaigns over the summer - England men's manager Gareth Southgate praised the impact a commando training session had on his players, while the England Women's Under-20s were put through their paces prior to their World Cup campaign began.

More: Who Were The Only Military Team To Win The FA Cup?