Medal winners in South Korea are exempted from the 21 months of military service that their fellow countrymen must do before they are 29.
So the South Korean men's soccer team had an extra reason to celebrate Friday after beating regional rival Japan 2-0 and taking home a bronze medal.
"I'm very happy to win the bronze medal and everybody here will now get a new chance by being exempted from military service," said striker Park Chu-young, who scored a stunning first goal. "That's what I'm really pleased about because that was our aim at the start of the tournament.
Kim Bok-yung, who is joining English League Championship team Cardiff next season, said being able to skip military service "makes me as happy as winning the bronze medal."
"It is a big problem for Korean players, but now I have avoided it," he said. "I will have no problem staying in Europe."
— Chris Brummitt — Twitter http://twitter.com/cjbrummitt
EDITOR'S NOTE — "Eyes on London" shows you the Olympics through the eyes of Associated Press journalists across the 2012 Olympic city and around the world. Follow them on Twitter where available with the handles listed after each item.
- Sports & Recreation
- Military & Defense
- South Korea