International CO day

Significance of conscientious objection movement in Korea as a way of nonviolent direct action

Yongsuk Lee

It is only recently that the term "nonviolent direct action" appeared in Korean society. Still, there are many misunderstandings about nonviolence and many people find direct action as a way of protest bizarre. Conservative media suggest that while nonviolent direct action had its place during the dictatorship, it is not legitimate in a democracy. However, after last year's candlelight rallies against the government decision to import US beef, the call for nonviolence is now better known in Korean society.

15th of May: Documentation on Conscientious Objection in South Korea


Andreas Speck

The extremely difficult situation of conscientious objectors in South Korea has so far not been known to a broader public. Until only a few years ago, it has not even been known to those working on conscientious objection internationally, including War Resisters' International.

Conscientious Objection Movements in South Korea

by Hyunji Oh
Conscientious objection in South Korea has a long history. The total amount of time during which Korean COs, mostly Jehovah's witnesses, have spent in prison for the past 50 years far exceeds ten thousand hours. Some people died while suffering from violence and torture during the military regime, and some people had to spend more than 7 years in prison. It was, however, only in early 2001 that conscientious objection became known to the Korean public. After that, it caused controversies in Korean society and became a big issue. At first, COs had to counter numerous criticisms and rebukes, feeling even bigger psychological frustrations than before. [1]

15 May 2009: International Conscientious Objection Day - Focus on South Korea

Presently, more than 420 conscientious objectors are in South Korean for their
conscientious objection to military service. About 100 conscientious objectors are facing trials without being detained. It has to be expected that most will receive a prison sentence of 18 months.

15th of May - International Day of Conscientious Objection

Since 2001, War Resisters' International has coordinated international activities around 15 May - the International Day of Conscientious Objection. The day began in 1982 as European CO Day, but since 1986 has been celebrated as International Day of Conscientious Objection.
War Resisters' International sees activities around 15 May as an opportunity for conscientious objection activists to share their experience, and learn from each other's struggles and campaigns. Since 2002, these activities include an international event, often with a nonviolence training and a nonviolent action as major parts.

15 May - International Day on Conscientious Objection

Counter-recruitment and conscientious objection for professional soldiers as major themes

Just before 15 May, the International Day on Conscientious Objection, War Resisters' International has published material on the major theme for this year: the right to conscientious objection for professional soldiers, and the work done to counter military recruitment.

War Resisters' International is presently working on a survey of European Union countries regarding the question of the right to conscientious objection for professiona

Objeción de conciencia en el mundo

El derecho a la objeción de conciencia y estándares internacionales

Andreas Speck, Internacional de resistentes a la guerra, Londres


Professionalisation of the military – end of conscientious objection in Europe?

15 May – International Day on Conscientious Objection

In recent years many European countries abolished conscription, or suspended conscription in times of peace. Presently, out of the 27 European Union member states only 10 maintain conscription, and it is expected that of those ten some more will abolish conscription in the near future – Poland is expected to abolish conscription in 2010–2012, and Sweden is just now in the process of abolishing conscription.

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