National Service Forces: How Does Singapore Compare to South Korea and Taiwan? |

Are you curious how Singapore’s National Service compares to similar military experiences in the region? Let’s see how the pay, quality of life and safety of Singapore’s NS compare to Taiwan and South Korea’s military services.

Types of Military Service

National Service in Singapore can be served in 3 organisations: namely SCDF, SPF and SAF. In Taiwan, other than the military, police and fire department, their NS can be served in clinics, local government offices or as teachers in rural areas provided they have the required qualifications.

It’s pretty much the same in South Korea, where non-active duty personnel can work in public service, as arts/sports personnel, or public health doctors/lawyers/researchers depending on qualifications.


While it’s difficult to get a deferment from Singapore’s NS – unless you’re doing it for a couple of years for tertiary studies – South Koreans are exempt from military service if they’re professional athletes (eSports athletes don’t count). Interestingly, South Korea also exempts artists from the military, like violinists, pianists, and ballet performers (it doesn’t apply to Kpop stars though).

Welfare and Days Off

Singaporeans spend 22-24 months doing NS, while South Koreans (from 2020) will spend 18-22 months, depending on the branch of the military – these apply to boys aged 18 and above. In Taiwan, males aged 19 and above only serve 4 months (although there are plans to make the military voluntary).

When it comes to vacation days, Singapore has the most – soldiers can utilise up to 28 days of vacation, and most soldiers can go home during the weekends. Korean soldiers receive 21 vacation days and have to stay at their bases even on weekends. Taiwanese soldiers do not get time off except on weekends.

Mortality Rates

Though there has been an increased backlash and scrutiny into safety recently, the Singapore’s NS is generally safe. In 2018, Singaporean Armed Forces mortality rate stood at 0.007% (5 deaths out of 72,000 active personnel), which is lower than 0.014% of Korea and 0.008% of Taiwan.

It is important to also note that Singapore’s military may face less risk than South Korea and Taiwan’s given that it does not have direct military tensions. These countries are at times involved in tense military confrontation with North Korea and China, respectively.

Monthly Allowance

In Singapore, a Corporal First Class (the highest rank for enlistees) receives S$670 a month. In comparison, in Korea and Taiwan, equivalent ranks receive S$487 and S$317 respectively. However, when comparing monthly allowance to average income, Singaporean soldiers have less purchasing power compared to their counterparts in Korea and Taiwan.

This article has been edited from the original article on ValueChampion.