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Pres. Park orders radical measures to halt army abuse

Posted August. 14, 2014 01:46,   


President Park Geun-hye said on Wednesday, “Parents and families who sent their children to the military have growing distrust in the military due to successive incidents that recently broke out in the barracks,” stressing, “If the military causes suffering to parents, the government will sternly punish those responsible irrespective of their ranks.”

At an emergency meeting of key military commanders at the defense ministry on the day, President Park made the remarks, saying, “You commanders should deeply recognize that you bear the heavy responsibility to transform distrust (in the military) into trust and confidence. In the wake of the death of private first class Yoon due to beating by seniors at the 28th Infantry Division and successive deaths of soldiers deemed as requiring special care, President Park assembled again an urgent meeting of commanders even less than one month after the last meeting of top military commanders on July 16. It is also unusual that the supreme commander of the military has called a meeting of top military commanders above the division commander level, including the defense minister, due to soldiers’ deaths.

“I have had trust in our military that have fulfilled its inherent duties undauntedly despite challenging security situations thus far. However, witnessing a string of incidents that have happened in the military this year, I have been hugely disappointed,” she said in blaming the commanders, before urging the military to devise fundamental measures to prevent recurrence.

In attendance at the meeting were more than 140 people, including commanders in the top echelon of the military such as Defense Minister Han Min-koo, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Choi Yoon-hee and chiefs of the general staff of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, and commanders above the division commander level. At the meeting, Defense Minister Han reported measures to reform culture in the barracks in three areas, namely settlement of a barracks culture that guarantees human rights, creation of a safe barracks environment, and nurturing of a military wherein order and discipline is established,” as well as related tasks. However, critics say that the measures are only repetition of what the military had announced as measures to improve the situation in the past.

President Park also expressed concern over the deterioration of morale among the troops. “A strong military is armed forces in which leaders and rank-and-file soldiers form unity through trust and compatriotism and that boast strong morale,” Park said. “Under no circumstances, our military can afford to be swayed. I urge you to make your utmost efforts to ensure thorough defense of the national territory not matter what.”

A defense ministry sources said, “Based on the results of the meeting, the ministry will establish a committee on reform of barracks culture comprising the civilian, government and military sectors, and system for cooperation between them, and thus devise comprehensive measures that will eradicate bad practices in the barracks.”