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April 13, 2018

South Korea's baseball manager says he will disregard players' military status when picking Asian Games squad

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

South Korea's national baseball team manager Sun Dong-yol has insisted that he will only consider players' form and ability, rather than military status, when picking his team for this year's 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang.

Winning a gold medal at the competition in Indonesia would allow male players an exemption from the country's mandatory military service.

Healthy South Korean men between the ages of 18 and 35 are required to serve in the armed forces, although there are exceptional circumstances for successful athletes.

The issue of exemptions has been controversial in South Korea with some arguing that athletes with little-to-no contribution to sporting success have been given a free pass.

Sun, who has picked a 109-strong roster to consider for the Games, said that his final squad of 24 will be based purely on ability.

"The key to this provisional roster was to have a good mix of veterans and young players.

"I can't name any names now, but some youngsters could make the final roster come June."

Shortstop Oh Ji-hwan and outfielder Park Hae-min, who have both been included in the initial roster, are due to start military service next year.

Exemption is only given to those who are under 27 years old so, at 28, Oh and Park are due to start military service next year.

Sun's initial list includes 52 pitchers, seven catchers, six first basemen, eight second basemen, nine third basemen, eight shortstops and 19 outfielders.

The deadline for unveiling the final 24-strong squad has yet to be set with the Asian Games taking place from August 18 to September 2.

The baseball competition at the event will be held at the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in Jakarta, with South Korea hoping to defend their title.