International Conscientious Objector Month: South Korea
War Resisters' International (www.wri-irg.org) exists to promote nonviolent action against the causes of war, and to support and connect people around the world who refuse to take part in war or the preparation of war.
International Conscientious Objectors' Day is observed around the world each year on May 15. This year the focus of the day was on the situation of South Korean conscientious objectors (COs).
South Korea does not recognise the right to conscientious objection. Objectors to military service are sentenced to 18 months in prison. On March 31of this year, 458 COs were serving sentences.
WRI and Korean groups organized an international CO conference in Seoul the week before International CO day, at which people shared perspectives, news, and strategies, and prepared together for a nonviolent street theater action on May 15. The performance dramatized the South Korean government's inaction on improving the situation of COs.
The previous South Korean government announced preparations for a law recognizing conscientious objection, but the new government has abandoned these plans.
Amnesty International, WRI, and other human rights and peace organizations
are campaigning for South Korea to recognize the right to conscientious