'Faker' in line for military exemption after Asian Games gold

HANGZHOU: South Korean eSports star Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok is in line for a controversial exemption from military service after his team won gaming gold at the Asian Games on Friday.

South Korea beat Taiwan 2-0 in the League of Legends final in front of a packed crowd at the 4,500-seat Hangzhou Esports Center.

Lee, 27, remained on the sidelines after telling Korean news agency Yonhap the previous day that he had "a body ache and the flu", but he will still collect gold.

Any athlete from South Korea can skip full military service if they win gold at the Asian Games.

Star footballer Son Heung-min famously did so with the men's team five years ago so instead did just three weeks' basic military training.

With South Korea still technically at war with North Korea, all able-bodied South Korean men must usually serve at least 18 months in the military.

Exemptions are controversial, even more so for eSports, which is making its debut as a medal event at the Games and is still seen by some as out of place at a major multisport international event.

Typically granted to elite athletes or classical musicians on the basis of promoting national prestige, the exemptions are highly sought after.

They are also rare. Fewer than 100 exemptions for "arts and sports" were handed out last year, official statistics show. -- AFP

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