Asian Games victory would present an avenue for Im Sung-jae to avoid military service ©Getty Images

Professional golfers are poised to be able to able to represent South Korea at the Asian Games after the Korea Golf Association adopted new selection criteria.

Only amateur players could be picked for the Asian Games team up until now.

There was controversy over the presence alleged professionals in the Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Macau and Uzbekistan teams at the 2018 Asian Games, but the Korea Golf Association said it had been informed of rule changes and was therefore updating its selection procedure to enable professionals to compete.

Up to two professional players will be able to be named in South Korea's men's team from Hangzhou 2022, Yonhap reports, while one professional place will be on offer in the three-player women's team.

The other players will still be amateurs.

The policy change could prove particularly valuable for South Korea's leading players in the men's professional ranks, as it opens the door for them to receive an exemption from military service.

Asian Games gold medallists become exempt from South Korea's mandatory military service.

All South Korean men aged between 18 and 28 are legally required to complete two years of military service, but Asian Games champions and all Olympic medallists receive special permission to not be conscripted.

Women's world number one Ko Jin-young is now eligible for selection for the Asian Games  ©Getty Images
Women's world number one Ko Jin-young is now eligible for selection for the Asian Games ©Getty Images

They usually complete three weeks of basic military training instead.

Im Sung-jae, ranked 23rd in the world, and Kim Si-woo, a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, are two leading players who could benefit.

Im is 23 and Kim 26.

They both played at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games but failed to crack the top 20.

Allowing professionals to compete may allow for the best women's golfer in the world to represent South Korea at the Asian Games, although with women not subject to conscription the stakes are arguably not so high.

Three of the top five players in the women's world ranking are South Korean; Ko Jin-young is number one, Olympic gold medallist Park Inbee number four and Kim Sei-young fifth.

South Korea is the most successful golfing nation in Asian Games history with 13 gold medals.

However, South Korea won only one gold medal across the last two editions of the Asian Games - Park Gyeol's women's victory at Incheon 2014, which came at the age of 18.