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'The Korean Zombie' finds silver lining in putting career on hold for military service

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Word got out last week that Chan Sung Jung, a.k.a "The Korean Zombie," would be sidelined for two years from MMA to fulfill his mandatory military service required of South Korean male citizens.

The 13-4 fighter last competed in Aug. 2013 when he lost via fourth-round TKO to UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo. recently spoke to the 27-year-old, who started his service on Monday, via e-mail about this news:

Ariel Helwani: What was your reaction when you heard that you'll have to put your MMA career on hold for two years?
Chan Sung Jung: It's not something that was a surprise. Since all able-bodied men are obligated to serve, I knew that it was something that I'd have to do at some point.

Did you try to convince the military to not let you join now so you can finish your career?
No. It's the law and a duty of all Korean men. Those are the rules, so I have to abide by them.

Do you regret not serving your time earlier?

In some ways I do, but that's easy to say now. When you're in your early 20s you don't always have the best judgement. Especially when it comes to serving in the military, it's easy to put it off.

What exactly will you be doing in the military?
I'll be working in my local district office. As I told you before, because of several surgeries that I had, I was given a government office job. I'm not sure exactly what I'll be doing there, though.

The UFC is scheduled to make its debut in South Korea next year. Do you think its going to be hard for you to not be a part of it?
Yes! I was hoping to delay my service until after the South Korean event, but that wasn't possible. It's something that the UFC has been wanting to do for a few years now and something that I was really looking forward to. So, yeah, it's going to be really tough for me to watch that one.

Are you confident you will be able to resume your career when your service time is up?
Absolutely. I think this may extend my career, because it gives me some much needed time to heal. I'll have time to work on my skills without pushing myself to the limit, which is necessary when training for a fight.

Did you see how many of your fans reacted to this news, and if so, how did that make you feel?
I'm always thankful to my fans for their support. So, it was touching to see the outpouring of support.

How is your shoulder feeling and why did you have to pull out of the Akira Corassani fight?
It's okay, but not 100 percent. As I was increasing the intensity of my training for the Corassani fight, I strained my shoulder. The doctors told me that if I didn't let it heal completely, that the problems with my shoulder would continue. So, I had to pull out of the fight.

Do you think Chad Mendes will beat Jose Aldo next week?
I think he has all the tools to beat Aldo. I don't have a prediction, though. I'm not great at predicting fights. In the UFC, the level is so high, anyone can beat anyone on a given night. Especially when you have two elite fighters like Chad and Jose, it's tough to say who will win. Jose is a great champion, so it's going to take a lot to beat him.

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