All four branches of South Korea’s military; the army, navy, air force and marines, will receive some 44,000 mobile phones over the coming days and weeks so that troops can keep in contact with friends and family. There is one slight limitation though, as the devices are only able to receive calls.
The move is being made to try to keep morale in the military high, despite rising tensions with North Korea and to stop troops having to rely on old payphones to contact their loved ones. It also solves a major problem that has plagued troops whereby important messages have only been able to be passed on slowly through an administration office.
Originally, the South Korean government only planned to deliver the mobile phones to remote barracks or those on the border with North Korea. However, manufacturer LG has agreed to fund the additional devices and pay for network costs after several conscripts in the military chose to delay their discharge from service while there is uncertainty over the relationship between the two countries.
South Korea operates compulsory national service whereby every male aged between 18 and 35 much serve between 21 and 36 months in one of the branches of the military. Recently, many of those who have completed their allotted service time have chosen not to leave their fellow soldiers in case there is an outbreak of violence.