A South Korean Army serviceperson, having undergone gender reassignment surgery, has expressed a desire to continue military service as a woman.
According to local media reports, the soldier got the surgery last year in a foreign country while on leave.
The Army says the serviceperson is being treated in a military hospital and has been inspected by authorities in pursuant to regulations.
A review is underway to decide whether to discharge her or not since specific rules on whether to allow those who change their gender while in service currently don't exist.
"Currently, no such specific rules exist. The serviceperson's physical changes are now being evaluated."
The Center for Military Human Rights Korea argued that the military should accept her request, saying the soldier loves the military and is very loyal to the country.
The identity of the serviceperson has been withheld except that she's a tank pilot, serving as staff sergeant that has less than two years' experience.
The Army declined a request from Arirang News to interview the soldier, which requires the approval by the Army's Chief of Staff.
A South Korean military source said one of the most important factors the military will consider in this case is how members of the South Korean military perceive gay and transgender soldiers, who are generally a taboo subject in the military, which is considered one of the most conservative groups in Korean society.
Last July, Amnesty International warned that LGBTI soldiers face violence and harassment in the South Korean military due to a 1962 law that criminalizes consensual sex between same-sex servicemen.
Violators can be punished with up to two years in prison.
Asked about such criticisms, Seoul's defense ministry says it's waiting for a verdict from the Supreme Court, which has been asked to consider whether the law needs to be repealed or amended.
Kim Ji-yeon, Arirang News.