SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- Rank-and-file soldiers are now officially allowed to use their mobile phones after work starting Wednesday following a yearlong trial period, the defense ministry said.
Since April last year, South Korea has allowed all draftees to use mobile phones on a trial basis to monitor possible side effects. Previously, the military had banned their mobile phone use inside camps citing security reasons.
Under the revised regulations, enlistees are now allowed to use their individual phones at all on-base places, except for high security areas, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays, and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekends and holidays, according to the ministry.
Taking photos, videos or recording sound is still prohibited.
After the pilot run, the ministry said allowing mobile phone use had a number of positive effects on draftees, such as by helping them better adapt to military life and allowing them to continue self-improvement while serving the mandatory military duty.
To prevent possible leaks of military secrets, a new security control system and punishment regulations were introduced, the ministry said, adding that no such leakage incidents took place during the test period.
The ministry said it plans to provide various education and counseling services to prevent possible side effects, such as soldiers accessing gambling or other harmful websites.
"We will sternly deal with any breaches of regulations and continue to make efforts to create a stable culture for using mobile phones," the ministry earlier said.
By law, all able-bodied South Korean men must carry out military service for about two years in a country that faces North Korea across one of the world's most heavily fortified borders. Violators are punished with prison terms.