Military mulls leasing text-only mobile phones to soldiers
The military is reviewing a plan to lease text-only mobile phones to soldiers, in a move to allow them to better communicate with their family members, friends and loved ones, a military source said Sunday.
Conscripts are banned from possessing mobile phones while on duty and on-base access to the Internet is strictly prohibited. Enlisted men currently only use public phones at their units to communicate outside their barracks.
"The plan is designed to lease a mobile phone that only allows texting to soldiers who want the leasing service," the source said on the condition of anonymity.
Even if adopted, soldiers will be only allowed to use such a mobile phone during a limited break time because the service will be cut otherwise, the source said.
The plan was discussed at a closed-door conference last week, presided by Vice Defense Minister Lee Yong-gul, on issues to improve the welfare of soldiers, according to the source.
Also, the military was considering shortening the period for a corporal to become a sergeant. Currently, it takes seven months for a corporal to be promoted to the rank of sergeant.
Two years of military service is mandatory for all healthy young South Korean men. Before conscription, mobile phones and the Internet were part of their everyday lives.
The military is one of the world's largest standing armed forces with 650,000 active personnel, which face North Korea's 1.1 million-strong armed forces across a heavily fortified border.
The two Koreas remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. (Yonhap)