Korean WBC players exempt from military service

SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea decided Friday to exempt national team members competing at the World Baseball Classic from mandatory military service as a reward for advancing to the tournament's semifinals.

Korea beat Japan 2-1 on Wednesday to clinch a berth in inaugural tournament's semifinals.

The Defense Ministry will soon introduce a bill that exempts the players from the usual two-year compulsory military service, the ruling Uri Party said.

The privilege will benefit 11 of the squad's 30 players who have yet to fulfill their military duties.

South Korea had also exempted its World Cup soccer players from military service when they advanced to the second round for the first time in 2002.

All eligible South Korean men must serve in the military for an average of two years, a legacy of the long standoff with communist North Korea. The 1950-53 Korean War ended without a peace treaty, and the two Koreas remain technically at war.