In the last couple weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out my future. Unlike many of my colleagues who are preparing for their lives as resident physicians, I have been trying to find ways to avoid my mandatory military service.
I’m Korean by birth, my parents are Korean and I have a Korean passport but I lived in Korea for 4 years with the occasional summer visits to see family. All Korean males have mandatory military service and they are drafted at the age of 18 unless they choose to postpone it for educational reasons, which I have been doing for the last 8 years. Now that I have exhausted my options, the Korean army is calling me back – forcing me back with my expiring passport. As it stands, I am required to be present in Korea by August of 2016 to be drafted. Pretty terrible timing since my chances of matching into a residency will decrease with each year that passes from my graduation.
I was aware of the draft but I had pretty much ignored it until now because I have no choice. I figured there must be a way out because I left Korea when I was young and I had no intention of returning. There are exemptions but somehow I do not qualify for any of them. I was extremely frustrated and angry because my life was turned upside down. The way I had my life planned out, I was supposed to graduate and match into a residency program in the states after which I was going to work with an international organization like Medecins Sans Frontieres.
But life doesn’t always happen the way we want. I cried and laughed at the ridiculous situation. I screamed with frustration at no one and everyone. When life throws a curve ball, cry, laugh, scream at the top of your lungs, and then face life head on. Because hakol dvash (Hebrew: everything is honey), everything will be OK.