A court ruling in South Korea on Wednesday sided with that nation’s military, ruling that Sang-Moon Bae must complete his two-year mandatory military service.
“I am sorry to those who have supported me, including all my fans and South Koreans, for causing anxiety,” Bae told the Yonhap News Agency. “I completely respect the court’s decision, and I humbly accept the judgment by the law.”
An immediate departure date for the 29-year-old Bae to join the military has not been established. Bae is competing this week at the RBC Canadian Open.
South Korean law dictates that all men ages 18-35 must complete two years of military service because the country is technically still at war with North Korea, a conflict that began in 1950, but has seen mostly skirmishes and acts of terrorism since the 1970s.
This past February, Bae was charged with violating the rule when he did not secure an extension to his overseas travel permit. Having lived in the US since 2013, Bae challenged the violation, saying he did not qualify as an overseas resident of Korea.
Bae is having arguably his best season on the PGA Tour, with a win and more than $2 million in prize money. His PGA Tour exemption runs through the 2017 season, and earlier this year the Tour board amended its regulations to include “mandatory obligation” is considered on its provision for extending said exemption, along with major medical issues and family crises. The board is likely to ratify said amendment as early as next week.
K.J. Choi, an eight-time PGA Tour winner, did not turn professional until after his military service is complete. Choi served his time when he was 22, as a rifleman, working on a radar base, and spending time as a cook. He had a shift of two days on, two days off, and would spend the free time at the driving range.