According to news reports out of South Korea, Ji-Man Choi will not be required to serve military service in his home country for the next ten years after achieving residency in the United States in 2019, which delays his requirement to serve his country to age-37.
Without this waiver, Choi would have been required to return to Korea after the 2020 season, or risk losing his his citizenship status in his home country.
Choi is entering his age-29 season and led the Rays to having the best performance at first base in the American League last season (138 wRC+), trailing only the Mets for the best performance at the plate in MLB. Choi’s contribution of a 131 wRC+ over more than 400 PA at the position.
Here is an initial tweet breaking the news from our Korean writer Homin:
Breaking : According to South Korean reports, #Rays Ji-man Choi earned permanent residency in the U.S. last year. Now he can delay the start of his military service until he turns 37. I wrote about this scenario in 2018. https://t.co/7KveQpmHgv— Homin Lee (@Homein22) May 15, 2020
Previously, Homin layed out the five scenarios awaiting Choi as he considered how to approach his required military service, with the second being the scenario Choi has achieved: delaying his military service until age-37.
Two years of military service are required for all citizens of South Korea, with very rare exceptions, such as achieving a high honor internationally.
This was a recent focus internationally when Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Son Heung-min was able to avoid military duty after South Korea’s national soccer team won the Asian Games. Son was the team captain. Ji-Man Choi was not selected to the baseball roster for the Asian Games in 2018, which benefited other Koreans in MLB, as his career in the US had yet to take off.
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For those interested, here’s a Google Translate of an article from Korea on the matter:
Major league Choi Ji-man ( Tempa Bay Leights , 29) won the permanent residence in the United States. According to the Military Service Act, the Military Manpower Administration notified Choi Man-ji of “depart for the United States by the end of June.”
According to the Military Manpower Administration on the 15th, Choi Ji-man obtained permanent residence in the United States last year. Choi Man-jin, who has not yet completed his military service, had to go to the military after he was 30 years old.
Choi Man-Ji was able to postpone his military service until the age of 37 under current law when he gained permanent residence in the United States.