Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-Min may have received an exemption from his full two year service period with the South Korean military, but according to one Korean news organization it’s that same military service requirement that has prompted his return to his home country during the Premier League shutdown.
According to an unconfirmed report in Korean outlet OSEN, Son has exempted himself from full service requirements after he won the Asian Games with Korea in the summer of 2018, but he still needs to complete basic training, which takes about four weeks.
I can’t find the original article on OSEN’s website, but Alasdair Gold has the breakdown.
Originally Son would have been required to undertake two years of military service, but as Pochettino gave him permission to play in and win the Asian Games in 2018, he only now requires this basic training which last four weeks.— Alasdair Gold (@AlasdairGold) April 1, 2020
Gold goes on to say that OSEN is the only outlet reporting on this and it’s as of yet unconfirmed whether this was the reason why Sonny returned to South Korea last week. Tottenham announced that Son was one of two players to return home, along with Steven Bergwijn who was anticipating the birth of his child. Sonny’s departure was described as “for personal reasons.”
If accurate, this would make sense. If there’s no football for the next month, and it sure seems like there won’t be, then this would be an excellent time for Sonny to complete that basic training. Doing so will undoubtedly keep him in shape, though perhaps not football shape, and it comes at a time when there would be no other football commitments such as the Olympics (in which Sonny likely would’ve participated as an overage player). We can probably assume that this hypothetical basic training would be done in full compliance with whatever regulations South Korea now has in effect for the COVID-19 outbreak. Maybe Korean military officers can still do basic training while staying 6 feet apart?
Sonny’s probably still waiting for the Premier League to confirm its plans for the end of the season, whether that be a resumption of football in June, as is the current rumor, or abandoning the season altogether. But at least we won’t have to worry about him reporting back to north London out of shape!