February 4, 2008 / 2:02 AM / 13 years ago

Soccer-South Korean players dislocate shoulders to dodge draft

SEOUL, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Ninety-two current and former South Korean soccer players have been indicted for dodging military service by intentionally dislocating their shoulders to receive medical exemptions, a prosecutor said on Monday.

South Korean men spend up to 24 months in the military as part of mandatory service in the 670,000-strong armed forces, a duty which can hamper the careers of athletes.

The players, including 15 professional K-League players, dislocated their shoulders by methods such as swinging their arms while holding heavy weights or having fellow players jump on their shoulders, the official said.

The majority of the indicted players were in minor, domestic soccer leagues. Local media said if they are found guilty, they will most likely have to perform community service for two years, but some could be forced into the military or sent to jail.

An orthopaedic surgeon who performed arthroscopic surgery on the players and issued false papers has also been charged, the prosecutor said.

North Korea, with which South Korea remains technically at war, has about 1.2 million troops.

South Korea sometimes grants special exemptions to athletes such as soccer or baseball players whose teams do well in international competition. (Reporting by Jack Kim, editing by Jon Herskovitz and Ed Osmond)

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