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August 30, 2018

South Korea Star Son Edges Closer To Escaping Military Service As Team Reach Asian Games Final

South Korea and Tottenham Hotspur football star Son Heung-min has moved closer to avoiding military service after he helped his country reach the final of the Asian Games in Indonesia.

Son, 26, needs to win the tournament with his team to be granted an exemption from doing military service in his homeland, where it is compulsory for all males to complete 21 months’ service by the age of 28.

READ MORE: Desperate-time, desperate measure: Tottenham Hotspur player seeks Asian game's gold medal to avoid military service in South Korea

South Korea beat Vietnam 3-1 in the semi-final on Wednesday, thanks to a double from Lee Seung-woo –the second of which was set up by Son – and a goal from Hwang Ui-jo.

The ‘Taeguk Warriors’ now face Japan in Saturday’s final – with Son knowing victory would mean he avoids having to leave club team Tottenham for a lengthy period to complete his service.

Tottenham star Son is captaining his country at the tournament. © AAMIR QURESHI / AFP 

South Korean men are exempt from completing their military duties if they earn an Olympic medal or claim victory at the Asian Games.

Son previously missed out on the chance to clinch an exemption at the 2014 Games when former club Bayer Leverkusen refused to release him for the tournament.

However, Spurs have granted him permission to play this time around, in the hope that victory will ensure they are not deprived of a key player for a lengthy part of the season.

The London team were quick to congratulate their South Korean ace on his team’s win on Wednesday.

Tottenham Hotspur @SpursOfficial
Congratulations Sonny - #AsianGames2018 finalist! 10:54 AM - Aug 29, 2018

Teams at the Asian games are mainly made up of players aged under 23, although countries are allowed to include three players over that age in their squad - with Son being named as one of South Korea's elder members.

After Wednesday's game, Son himself said: “We are so close to gold. We fight for that. I don’t need to say anything, I am ready for that.

“We deserved to win, we had lots of chances to score. I think we are better players so we dominated the game.”

Former South Korean stars who have tried to delay or avoid performing military service on seemingly flawed grounds have often been accused of lacking patriotism, with ex-Arsenal player Choi Kang-hee being forced to apologize in 2012 when he used a Monaco residency visa to defer his service for 10 years.

However, past stars have also been spared doing service through their achievements, with the squad that reached the World Cup semi-final in 2002 being handed an exemption.

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