A group of students in South Korea found a novel way to avoid military conscription, gorging on pizzas and hamburgers in order to put on weight and fail a physical exam.
The group of 12 were eating huge meals up to five times a day, the Military Manpower Administration has said, revealing that one gained 30 kilograms in six months.
Their actions were made public by the Military of National Defence, which is planning to prosecute, according to the Korea Herald.
The 12 men were all vocalists who had graduated from the same musical school and are believed to have shared weight gain tips in an online forum.
In South Korea, it’s compulsory for all men between the ages of 18 and 35 to complete a minimum of 21 months of military service, but before enlisting they have to complete a physical exam.
Men found to be unfit for active duty can be deemed exempt or given alternative work programs, the Korea Herald explains.
The vocalists were reportedly aiming to end up on alternative programs, so they could continue practice singing in their spare time.
Two of the men have already finished their programme while four are midway through and six have not enlisted.
Regardless, the Military of National Defence is planning to make them all appear in court. If found guilty of draft dodging, they will have to complete the military service.
There are very few ways to avoid conscription in South Korea and three of the only ways to do so are to win classical music competitions or medals at the Olympics or Asian Games.
The rules have come under fire from many campaigners, who point out the damage conscription can do to young people’s careers.
In particular, music fans have been calling for the members of chart-topping K-pop boyband BTS to be granted exemption.
Ha Tae-keung, a member of the opposition party in South Korea, recently argued: “If you win a classic music competition such as in violin and piano, military exemption is granted. However, winning a pop music competition, say the Billboard albums chart, gets you nothing.