Yes, the only way for a field to itself have no value at all is for it not to be a field. We don't have "undef"ined fields in COBOL. If it is defined, it has a value (the value it has can itself be "undefined" as to what the value is, but it will still have a value). If you want to indicate different behaviour to the caller in different circumstances, you have to agree on a value to be set. If all values are already valid for the field in the business case, then you need a new field to use as a "flag".
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