In 2016, a 22-year old college student reported for a physical exam to determine his eligibility for mandatory military service in the South Korean armed forces. This week, the Incheon District Court ruled that he was not guilty of breaking conscription law, after prosecutors alleged he gorged himself on fried chicken and booze before showing up in order to avoid service.
Munchies directs us to this story from the Korea Herald, which says that at the time of the student’s test, he weighed 106 kilograms (approximately 234 lbs.) and was around 170 centimeters tall (5 ft., approximately 5 in.), for a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 36.8. Per the Herald, those with a BMI of 33 and above are eligible for exemption from full-time military service, and can instead take a public service job. If you’re a male between the ages of 18-28 in South Korea, you are required to enlist in military service. (Click here for an interesting Quartz piece about whether K-Pop stars—like BTS—should be required to serve.)
Prosecutors alleged that the man deliberately packed on weight through a diet of fried chicken and booze to avoid serving; they also accused him of “stooping when getting his height measured so as to increase his BMI.” The student, however, claimed he had had been long overweight, and that he didn’t stop. (Some people are just kinda short, okay? Sheesh.)
Judge Shim Hyun-joo ruled in favor of the defendant, “on grounds that he had been obese since he was 10 years old and that it was hard to conclude that the man deliberately gained weight to avoid military service, as he already weighed 102 kilograms when he was a junior in high school.”
The judge also noted that there was no evidence of the student taking supplements or medication to boost his weight gain, which is significant. Munchies directs us to this CNN report, which details charges made against 12 music students, who allegedly discussed ways to gain weight (including the use of protein powders and drinking aloe beverages) in a popular messaging app.
Here’s just one problem with accusing someone of eating tons of fried chicken and drinking booze to gain weight: They are delicious. Like, really delicious. So maybe it’s less an effort to gain weight, and more an effort to eat delicious food?