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Resistance from the Military Academy Graduates’ Associations

Resistance from the Military Academy Graduates’ Associations

Posted December. 13, 2004 22:23,   


An already large rift between the military and the military prosecution is growing as the classmates of Army Lieutenant Colonels Cha and Joo at the military personnel department strongly protested the two lieutenant colonels’ arrests. These lieutenant colonels are charged with corruption related to a promotion screening process in the military.

An official in the Defense Ministry said on December 13 that the military academy Graduates’ Association of the 40th class on December 8 posted on its website an article to show its dissatisfaction with the prosecution. The article was titled, “Reaction from the Graduates’ Association on the Arrest of Lieutenant Colonel Cha.” It defends Cha, saying, “Lieutenant Colonel Cha is a devoted member of the army personnel department.”

The military prosecution believes Cha drew up a list of 50 strong candidates for promotion and documents, which accused 15 to 20 other candidates of corruption, as well. The investigators suspect that Cha had been under pressure from the higher-ups when he produced those materials for the brigadier-general promotion committee in October.

The article placed in defense of Cha was written by the president of the Graduates’ Association. He further explained, “As a military personnel official, Cha gets to monitor candidates closely for up to a year, and in that case, Cha can almost perfectly predict who will get promoted. It can be nearly 100 percent certain.”

The article continues, “Lieutenant Colonel Cha was quite removed from the other people, while handling military personnel affairs. Despite the isolation, he was a very loyal member of the army as a graduate of the 40th class of our military academy. And now the army does not come to his rescue.”

The group of graduates of the 40th class is seeking a donation of around 50,000 won per person from their members and is also taking five million won out of its reserve fund to help Cha find a lawyer.

Army Lieutenant Colonel Joo, who was arrested with Cha, is also receiving assistance from the Graduates’ Association of the 41st class. The group, too, launched a fundraiser.

As other graduates from different classes of the military academy offer their help, some say that the backlash against the arrests might become more far-reaching among graduates of the military academy.

In response to the move, a spokesperson at the Defense Ministry, Shin Hyun-don, clarified, “Graduates of the military school are so loyal to one another, and they tend to think their classmates are innocent without solid knowledge of the event. Still the Defense Ministry is not in the position to judge whether or not the Graduates’ Associations are doing the right thing.”

Ho-Won Choi bestiger@donga.com