There could be a major issue coming up for Tottenham’s Son Heung-min as his military service is likely to be activated by the South Korean government soon. A report from Asia Times suggests that our attacker has to start the compulsory service before he turns 28.
The report also claims that the 25-year-old would be leaving Tottenham for a 21-month stint with the K-League’s army team Sangju Sangmu. For a few individuals, their fame and popularity are factored in so they can avoid the service but that will not be the case with Son.
Steve Kim, the former head of club competitions at the Asian Football Confederation, added that this would not be an ideal situation for Son. However, there is also nothing the Korean FA can do about this.
There could be a silver lining for Son, however, as the South Korean national side could do wonders in the upcoming World Cup in Russia.
Back in 2002, the nation had co-hosted the tournament with Japan and they even reached the semi-finals. That performance exempted the entire squad from military training and if this side can achieve a similar fate, they too might not have to be a part of it.
However, a group containing Mexico, Sweden and Germany will be tough to navigate from and maybe the real opportunity for Son lies in the Asian Cup to be held later in the year.
Should the football side win the competition, they would not have to take part in the military service, similar to every other gold medal-winning athlete.
There still are a couple of caveats as the tournament is only for U23 players. Nevertheless, a team can select three over-age stars and since Son is the best South Korean player around, he should be a part of the side.
That said, the player would have to be released by Tottenham for that time period and his former club Bayer Leverkusen did not allow Son to join the national side in the 2014 tournament. However, the situation is different now and Spurs might have to let the South Korean leave for close to a month for the Asian Games.
Son is expected to be picked and the Korean FA has already started discussions with the club. It will be interesting to see if they do allow him to join up with the team in Jakarta.
The Asian Games is scheduled from August 18 to September 2, meaning Son would have to miss the start of the new Premier League season.
The South Korean has to be at his best and hopefully, a gold medal in Jakarta will help him avoid any service, which would be a major boost for us and for him too.