Opinions divided in South Korea on Park Chu-Young's military duty apology

The Arsenal striker argued at Wednesday's press conference that he wasn't going to the London Olympics to win a medal which would make him exempt from military duty
Park Chu-Young has flown out of South Korea for Japan following Wednesday's public apology over his military duty controversy which has left opinions divided in his homeland.

The 26-year-old Arsenal striker has travelled to Japan where he will train with a J-League club in the lead-up to the 2012 London Olympics at which he's now expected to be selected as an over-age player.

Park caused much controversy in South Korea in March after obtaining a 10-year Monaco residency visa, which allowed him to defer his compulsory military service for almost a decade. Many South Koreans saw the move as unpatriotic, claiming he'd found a loophole to avoid his military service.

The issue flared up again last month when national team coach Choi Kang-Hee asked him to publicly explain the situation, however Park failed to do so, leading to the Korea boss to exclude him from the squad for games against Spain, Qatar and Lebanon.

Park held a belated public press conference on Wednesday, where he apologised for the controversy he had caused and attempted to explain his decision. The former FC Seoul striker was flanked by Olympic coach Hong Myung-Bo at the conference who appears set to select him for the Olympics.

However, public opinion on the latest twist in the saga remains divided, with many unconvinced by the press conference where Park failed to clarify specifically when he'd do his military service, despite stating he'll do it "no matter what".

There has also been a feeling that Park's inclusion in the squad for the London games is another effort by him to avoid his military service, as any Korean who wins an Olympic medal is exempt from duty. However, Park said that wasn't the case and argued he was trying to use the event as preparation for the 2012-13 Premier League season after a disappointing opening term at Arsenal.

“I’m not thinking about a medal, but about playing harder with my team-mates and performing well in the Olympics,” said Park at the Wednesday press conference.

“I think the Olympic team staff will help me to build up my form.”

Due to Park's Monaco residency visa, he has had to leave for Japan, as any national who has obtained a long-term permit abroad and who travels to Korea to engage in commercial, income-generating activities is only able to remain in the country for a maximum of 60 days per year.

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