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(LEAD) Singer MC Mong gets suspended jail term over draft dodging
SEOUL, April 11 (Yonhap) -- A Seoul court on Monday sentenced popular hip-hop singer MC Mong to six months in jail on charges of deliberately delaying military enlistment on false grounds, but suspended the sentence for one year.

   However, the Seoul Central District Court cleared the 32-year-old singer and TV entertainer, whose real name is Shin Dong-hyun, of a charge that he intentionally pulled out his healthy teeth to win an exemption of military duty.

   Shin was indicted last October for extracting three healthy teeth between 2004 and 2006 to allegedly avoid military service. He was also charged with postponing enlistment on various grounds such as preparations for civil service exams and overseas trips for performances.

   Shin first tested fit for military service in 1998, but was declared ineligible in a second qualification checkup in 2007, which found him with defective masticatory functions.

   A court statement said, "It is difficult to acknowledge that MC Mong intentionally pulled out his teeth to avoid military service," and the extraction of teeth was "apparently made by his dentist's recommendation to remove his toothache."

   The court said, however, that Shin "disrupted the administrative work of military affairs by deliberately delaying enlistment several times." It decided to suspend the sentence rather than send Shin directly to jail because he recognized his wrongdoings.

   Prosecution said it would appeal the acquittal on the charge of deliberately pulling out healthy teeth, saying there is "plenty of evidence" to prove the entertainer guilty, based on testimonies from dentists and the timing of the dental extraction.

   It wasn't immediately clear whether Shin would appeal the suspended sentence. After the ruling, Shin told reporters that he was "sorry" and will express his stance later.

   Shin would be forced to carry out military service unless he wins a potential appeal by 2014. Celebrities are frequently caught attempting to stay out of the military amid fears that they will lose popularity while in uniform.

   All healthy young South Korean men must serve at least two years in the country's military, which faces North Korea's 1.1 million-strong armed forces.

   Those who intentionally injure themselves to avoid military service could face up to five years in prison if convicted, according to the defense ministry. Under a revised law in 2009, a convicted draft dodger aged 37 or younger should undergo a new draft physical, ministry officials said.

   South Korea is still technically at war with North Korea since the Korean War ended in a 1953 cease-fire, not a peace treaty.

  (END)
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