The 27-year-old, who captains his national team, avoided military conscription in 2018 after winning the Asian Games with South Korea, but exempt athletes are still required by law to undertake four weeks of national service, or three weeks with the Marine Corps.
“He received the ‘Pilsung’ prize which is one of five types of awards for best performers,” a Marine Corps officer told Yonhap. “All the courses were judged in a fair and strict manner, and his military training officers have said he went through the training faithfully.”
Pilsung means ‘certain victory,’ something which has eluded Tottenham this season.
After reaching the Champions League final last season, Spurs sacked manager Mauricio Pochettino. However, his successor Jose Mourinho has yet to revive Spurs’ fortunes with the club eighth in the Premier League and out of the Champions League.
Son’s three-week program with the Marine Corps, which started on April 20, included bayonet skills, chemical, biological and radiological training, individual battle skills and first aid training, Yonhap says.
In South Korea, all able-bodied men aged between 18 and 35 are required to complete at least 21 months of military service.
The laws surrounding military service have impacted the careers of some of the country’s biggest names. The popular boy band Big Bang, for example, was forced to take a break so members could perform military service.
However, the mandatory duty can be waived for some athletes, including those who win Olympic medals or Asian Games titles.
Son, who underwent surgery after fracturing his arm against Aston Villa in February, still needs to complete 544 hours of community service over the next 34 months, which he can do while continuing to play football. He is expected to return to London later this month.
It was announced in April that the Premier League season had been indefinitely suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that play will resume “only when it is safe and appropriate to do so.”