A heated debate in South Korea about mandatory military service for women is inflaming divisions between the genders rather than narrowing social gaps, the country’s gender equality minister said.

Chung Young-ai, who leads the Gender Equality and Family Ministry, was responding to a question in an interview about whether young women should be made to join their male counterparts in serving in the armed forces. The issue has been the subject of wide discussion since April, when ruling party lawmaker and 2022 presidential hopeful Park Yong-jin reacted to local election defeats by suggesting mandatory military service for women would promote gender equality.

Chung said Monday the direction of the argument was "problematic.”