• Will have to return home to South Korea for two years
• "I humbly accept the judgment by the law," said the 28-year-old
PGA Tour star Sang-Moon Bae has accepted he must return home to South Korea for military service after failing in a legal battle to defer his conscription.
The 29-year-old has been embroiled in the political controversy since late last year, shortly after his second PGA Tour win at the Frys.com Open, when his work visa expired and he had yet to serve the mandatory two years’ service in the South Korean military required of men aged between 18-35.
And after it was deemed an ‘appropriate course of action’ to refuse to extend his overseas stay, Bae has eventually admitted defeat in attempting to delay the conscription.
"I humbly accept the judgment by the law" - Sang-Moon Bae
"I completely respect the court's decision, and I humbly accept the judgment by the law," he told the South Korean news agency Yonhap from Oakville, Ontario, where he’s preparing for the RBC Canadian Open.
"I'd like to apologise to my fans for causing them concerns. I decided that I can mature further as a golfer by returning home as soon as I can and complete my mandatory military service."
Back in January, Bae released a statement via his lawyer which outlined his intention to try to avoid returning to South Korea, which is technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean War.
“Sang-Moon Bae is seeking legal counsel to work through the military issues in Korea,” said the statement. “He has a valid Green Card, and Sang-Moon intends to stay in the United States as long as it is lawful to do so and play on the PGA Tour this year.”
But a Daegu court ruled that Bae, who gained US residency in 2013, didn't have sufficient grounds for staying outside South Korea any longer. The court also said Bae's refusal to immediately join the military at 18 "runs counter to the principle of fairness" with others in conscription.
However, the world No.107, who hasn't made a decision on when he will return to his homeland, said he had never intended to dodge the military service entirely.
"I should put my duty as a South Korean citizen ahead of my golfing career" - Sang-Moon Bae
"I felt this was a critical time for me as a young athlete to continue to compete on the US golf tour and I'd been doing the best I could to extend my stay, which was the legal and reasonable way,” said Sang-Moon Bae. But the court's ruling today reminded me of the fact I should put my duty as a South Korean citizen ahead of my golfing career."
Bae, who will earn around £83 a month as a private in the army, picked up more than $1million for his win at the Frys.com Open in October and has collected $5.7million in four full seasons on the PGA Tour.
Sang-Moon Bae :: Golfing career?
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