More crucially, mobile phones allow them to potentially expose any injustices within the secretive army camps.
"The soldiers can now feel more secure since they can always resort to calling for external help," said Cho Kyu-suk, a coordinator at the Military Human Rights Center, a civic group that advocates for soldiers' rights.
Phones also give recruits the "power of knowledge", he added. "They can find information on their rights and compare their situation with others instantly through social media."
Earlier this year, a photo of an army meal went viral, sparking debate over the poor treatment of the conscripts. Posted on Facebook by a young soldier, the picture showed a tray of rice, limp vegetables, and some pickles.
It was not supposed to have been leaked as recruits are banned from taking photos or videos. But the damage was done, and the military once again came under fire.
While such incidents may have been swept under the rug in the past, public outcry eventually led to the military pledging to raise the daily meal budget for conscripts by nearly 20%.
"The military cannot evade accountability any longer behind the shield of 'national security'," Mr Cho said.
Reported instances of violence have also fallen in recent years.
According to Defense Ministry data, 42 soldiers died by suicide in 2020, down from 62 the previous year, and a sharp drop from the hundreds counted during the 1980s.
But there's still much room for improvement, Mr Cho said.
He pointed to the military's discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community, with the army criminalising gay sex even though it is allowed in civilian life.