Jung Takes Two-Year Hiatus to Serve His Homeland

Jung Takes Two-Year Hiatus to Serve His Homeland

Jane White / Babson Athletics Communications

BABSON PARK, Mass.—Imagine arriving at college with the knowledge and understanding of interrupting your undergraduate career for a required two-year military stint in your native land. Rising senior HS Jung, an international student on the Babson men's soccer team, did exactly that with service in the South Korean army.

"The Korean War is technically not over yet," said Jung. "Therefore, both countries still have mandatory military services. Every South Korean man should be going to the military if they are both mentally and physically healthy enough to serve."

Not many students, let alone student-athletes at the age of 18, are put in the position Jung was as to when to serve his country. His decision was to leave Babson and the soccer program following his sophomore year.

"I had to take two years off from Babson and head back to my country to fulfill my duty," said Jung.

While most at this age have minor things to worry about, Jung was starting each day at 6:30 a.m. and ending his night at 10:00 p.m. The transition from Babson to the South Korean military was eye opening for Jung.

"I spent the first six weeks at basic training camp getting acclimated to military life routine and becoming valiant soldiers. My life completely changed and it was hard to get used to at first. Some of the training was easy, but a lot of it was difficult. I shot rifles with real bullets and I threw real grenades, but the 40 kilometer march was really the worst part."

After basic training, each individual is assigned to a base for the next 20 months. Jung was one of 14 men selected to the Reconnaissance team in Hwacheon in the Gangwon Province, which borders the demilitarized zone between South Korea and North Korea. Though Jung felt he learned beneficial things from his time in the military, he also realized how much he was missing his friends and teammates back at Babson.

"When I left, we were all underclassmen. When I returned, many of them became captains of the team. I also really missed time with my friends who graduated while I was gone. Luckily, many of them now live in the Boston area so I see them regularly."

There were many life lessons that Jung took away from his journey.

"While in the army, I met many different men with different backgrounds and perspectives. I learned that it doesn't matter how old you are, where you are from, whether you are rich or poor. It only matters how you learn and grow from each other."

Being back at Babson for a full year, Jung was immersed in the normal daily routine of a student-athlete, including enjoying success on the soccer pitch last fall. The Beavers captured the conference's regular season championship and hosted the opening two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Though Jung is sure he will face more challenges in life ahead, he indicated completing the Korean military obligation giving him a leg up when he enters the world. That assurance combined with a Babson degree should bode well for Jung, who for the time being is preparing for his final academic year and season.

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