Swansea City forward Ki Sung-Yueng who is a celebrity in South Korea, has spoken about how he survived a summer in the Korean army after being called to complete his mandatory military service before be clocks 29.
“In Korea there is always the possibility of a war, so we have to be ready,” Ki told WalesOnline.
“I had to learn how to deal with it. As soon as I got in there I had to forget I was a footballer. I just had to train like a soldier so it was hard to think about football.
“In the first few days they were surprised to see me there, but then they were too busy. They had to train and everyone gets so tired.
“I had to become a member of the army, that was my only priority. I learned how to shoot and we were in a gas room where I had to go in and put a mask on.
“We walked 10 or 20 kilometres with a gun so it was hard training and a great experience. I went to bed at the same time, woke up at the same time and I didn’t drink so I think it kept me fit.
“The training was not that hard, but mentally it was tough because I had to stay there for four weeks.
“I realised it is not easy for those in the army and having gone through the experience I felt proud of them. I didn’t know much about the army before, I didn’t know how they sacrifice themselves for their country.
“The way they train is so hard and they give their life for the country so I’m just very proud of them.”
Every Korean must serve two years military service before the age of 29 or face being exiled from the Asian country.
Ki has been capped 84 times by the South Korean senior national football team.