Photo: South Korean soldiers in barracks. Credit: Website of the Republic of Korea Army.
Since July 2020, the South Korean military has allowed its soldiers - mostly young conscripts serving their mandatory military duty - to use smartphones at the base after business hours, despite objections concerning information security and the soldiers’ discipline. A year later, the policy is met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, according to the May 17 Hankook Ilbo 한국일보 report by journalist Lee Wang-gu 이왕구.
The soldiers certainly love it: 87.4% said in a survey that the smartphone use helped with battle-readiness, compared to 68.4% who answered the same in the 2019 survey when smartphone use was introduced as a pilot program. The number of suicides and other incidents in the military declined, as the smartphone use helped the soldiers stay connected to their family and friends. Smartphones are also playing a crucial role in whistleblowing, as soldiers snap photos of substandard meals or facilities to share on social networking services and raise awareness.