Go to contents

S. Korean military concealed truth about death of private

S. Korean military concealed truth about death of private

Posted May. 28, 2024 08:03,   

Updated May. 28, 2024 08:03


A South Korean court judged that the government must pay about 400 million won in compensation to the family of a private who passed away after going into a reservoir upon the order of a senior soldier. The court acknowledged the government’s responsibility for compensation for damages as the fact that the private died in a reservoir while putting up a fishing net upon the order of a senior was revealed 37 years later.

According to the legal circles on Monday, Civil Agreement Department 46 of the Seoul Central District Court decided in favor of the plaintiff in a damage claim suit raised by five family members of the late Private Kim, including his brother, against the nation. The compensation ordered is about 82 million won per family member, totaling about 410 million won.

Private Kim, who was serving at an army camp in Jangseong County, South Jeolla Province at the time, drowned in a reservoir near the camp on June 26, 1985. The army announced that Kim went into the reservoir to catch fish for his father, who was suffering from tuberculosis, and died of a heart attack.

Thirty-some years later, Kim’s family members requested a reinvestigation by the Presidential Truth Commission on Deaths in the Military, arguing that the private who enlisted in the army only a month ago had no way that he went into the reservoir on his own.

The commission announced its investigation results in May 2022 that Kim was ordered by his seniors to put up a fishing nest and went into the reservoir, which led to his death. According to the commission, the private stood guard duty was from 6 pm to 8 am the next day, and he cleaned the camp before he received an order from the seniors to discard trash at the reservoir. The Ministry of National Defense acknowledged that Kim died in the line of duty in September 2022. Then, his family sued the government for a military investigative organization’s attempts to conceal the truth.

“Due to the deliberate or negligent failure of the military investigative organization, Kim’s family members found out that Kim indeed passed away at his post 37 years later,” said the court. “It is clear that the family members have suffered extreme emotional distress, and they haven’t been adequately compensated or treated with respect as the procedures to acknowledge Kim’s death in the line of duty haven’t been completed.”

최미송 기자 cms@donga.com