There were reports of imprisonment and detention of conscientious objectors.
The courts sentenced most conscientious objectors to 18 months in prison. While absolved of any additional military commitment, after serving time in prison conscientious objectors have a criminal record that can affect future employment opportunities. Watchtower International, a Jehovah’s Witnesses organization, reported that as of July 31, there were 583 members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in prison for conscientious objection to military service, 105 on trial, and 37 under investigation. The total number of cases was fewer than at the end of 2012 (733) but more than 2009 (400-500).
On June 13, 333 Jehovah’s Witnesses submitted a complaint to the Constitutional Court to decriminalize conscientious objection.
On July 10, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision to imprison a conscientious objector to military service for 18 months.
On August 26, 488 conscientious objectors submitted a petition to President Park Geun-hye’s office, calling for the National Assembly to follow UNHCHR’s recommendations to recognize their right to conscientious objection, clear the criminal records of convicted conscientious objectors, and offer compensation to those imprisoned.
On September 6, the Ulsan District Court asked the Constitutional Court to re-examine the constitutionality of the law that penalizes conscientious objectors. As of November the Constitutional Court was considering 28 cases filed by conscientious objectors to military service.
Sources at Watchtower reported that since 1990 courts have sentenced more than twenty conscientious objectors to prison terms or suspended prison terms for failing to participate in reserve duty exercises. Watchtower also estimates that since 1950, more than 17,400 conscientious objectors have served prison time in South Korea.