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Why were these two South Korean players saluting during the national anthem?

Two of the South Korean players could be seen performing the gesture before kick-off

Is the latest national anthem craze upon us?

We’ve already seen Willy Caballero and other players standing sideways to look at their country’s flag during the national anthems at the World Cup.

Two of the South Korean players were also seen doing something unusual during the national anthems before their clash with Mexico.


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The South Korean players before kick-off

Reuters
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The South Korean players before kick-off

Kim Min-woo and Ju See-jong were both pictured saluting during the national anthem.

The pair are currently serving in the military and so it is a requirement that they salute during the South Korean anthem.

In South Korea, all able bodied men aged 20 or older, are required to perform national service and must serve in the armed forces for at least 2 years.

Kim Min-woo before the match against Mexico

Reuters
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Kim Min-woo before the match against Mexico

Several South Korean footballers in the past, including former Man United man Park Ji-Sung, have received exemption from this.

When the national team reached the semi-final at the 2002 World Cup, the government revised the law to allow exemptions for key players.

The salute was aimed towards the South Korean Presiden Noon Jae-in, who is in the stands for the match against Mexico

The South Korean President observed the national anthem before kick-off

AP:Associated Press
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The South Korean President observed the national anthem before kick-off

Kim Min-woo and Ju Se-jong both play in dedicated teams for footballers who are currently serving their two-year military duty.

Kim Min-woo plays his club football for Sangju Sangmu FC and Ju Se-jong is currently with Asan Mugunghwa.

Both sides are comprised exclusively of Korean professional footballers who are in the armed forces.

Ju Se-jong in action against Mexico

Getty Images - Getty
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Ju Se-jong in action against Mexico

Fifteen players join the clubs at the start of every season and see out their military service there before returning to their previous professional clubs.

The army clubs are not allowed to sign any foreign players due to their military status.

Mexico hold a 1-0 lead in the match at half-time courtesy of a Carlos Vela penalty.

The former Arsenal man celebrates his goal

Getty Images - Getty
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The former Arsenal man celebrates his goal

South Korea lost to Sweden in their opening group game and need to beat Mexico if they are to have any chance of progressing to the knockout stages.

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