But athletes are able to get exemptions by winning gold at the Asian Games.
It uncorked unbridled jubilation from Son, who had set up both South Korean goals and leapt around beaming as he celebrated with his team-mates - including his fellow World Cup star, goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo.
Earlier, South Korea defeated Japan 3-1 (25-18, 21-25, 25-15, 27-25) to take the bronze medal. We all hope we can win.
"I think we did really good [.] I am really proud of my teammates", Son said.
Hwang Hee-chan doubled the advantage as he jumped highest to head from a free kick and sent the ball into the far corner of the net.
The 101st-minute goal prompted Son to embrace South Korea coach Kim Hak-bum on the sidelines. Elsewhere, South Korea's baseball team defeated Japan 5-1 in the first super round game, inching closer to its third straight final appearance.
The decision by Spurs to release Son for a far-flung, under-23 tournament already looks like a shrewd piece of business after he led South Korea to a gold medal that spares him a career-threatening stint of military service.
"I'm so grateful for all the support", said Son, who will have missed at least three games at the start of the Premier League season to play the Asian Games.
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This time around Son didn't play in the first two group games against Malaysia and Bahrain but scored the victor against Kyrgyzstan and was a starter in the quarterfinal win over Uzbekistan, the semifinal against Vietnam and Saturday's final.
"Normally that's not an easy decision".
"This is the best day in my life", Son told AFP, clutching his gold medal.
"I'm really thankful to them". "I'll continue to work hard for Tottenham".
The South Korean is 26-years-old, and men in the country are required to serve a compulsory twenty-one months in the military before the age of 28.
At the time his German Bundesliga club, Bayer Leverkusen, refused to release him - the tournament isn't officially recognized by Federation Internationale de Football Association, and clubs aren't obliged to release their stars.
Moreover, any medal at the Olympics will also exempt one from military service.
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