Annals of National Defense: Can Shin-Soo Choo Defeat Kim Jong-Il With His Baseball Bat?

South Korean men are required to put in two-year hitch in the armed forces before age 30, and Cleveland Indians outfielder

Shin-Soo Choo

, who has kept deferring his mandatory military service, is

now 28 years old

. He can give up two of his best (and best-paid) years of baseball, or he can abandon his country and become an American citizen.

South Korea is a nation constantly menaced by a hostile, heavily armed, irrational neighbor. A strong army is necessary for its survival. A South Korean man can’t just selfishly abandon his military commitment in the face of such an existential threat, for the sake of playing baseball.

At least, not for the sake of playing American baseball. South Korean baseball, on the other hand… Well, the

Asian Games

are going on. And if South Korea can win the gold medal, the players will be excused from military service.

Yesterday, in the semifinals, Choo hit a home run, walked three times, and scored three runs as

South Korea beat China, 7-1

. Overall in the tournament, he’s hitting .600, with 3 homers and 2 doubles.

So now, to discharge his duty for national security, all Choo has to do is to come through against

North Korea

Taiwan in the gold-medal game tomorrow. South Korea has already beaten Taiwan once, 6-1. In that game, Choo hit two home runs.