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State held responsible for soldier’s suicide

The Seoul Central District Court ruled on Monday that the state was partially responsible for the death of a soldier surnamed Lee who was pushed to suicide after being abused by other soldiers.

In passing the ruling, the court ordered the government to pay Lee’s family 60 million won ($51,500) in compensation.

The court sided with Lee’s family, saying that a lack of measures to address Lee’s psychological status contributed partially to his suicide.

“Senior soldiers repeated profanities, verbal abuse and severe reprimands that went beyond the boundaries of discipline and training,” the court said.

“The fact that officers did not take appropriate measures, despite the fact that such abuse caused the normally introverted Lee to experience extreme stress from feeling apologetic and the burden of his duties, led to the suicide.”

However, the court ruled that the state was only partially responsible, citing Lee’s decision not to seek other solutions.

“The ratio of the state’s responsibility is set at 20 percent as Lee did not actively seek to address problems in adapting to barracks life and chose the extreme action that is suicide, and as the profanity and verbal abuse from senior soldiers are not deemed to have been at a level unbearable with regards to general soldiers’ standards,” the courts said. Lee was conscripted into the Army in August 2010, and committed suicide by jumping off a building on the base in December of the same year, a month after he was assigned to his post as a driver.

During the month, Lee was reprimanded several times for failing to memorize information related to his duties and life on the base.

By Choi He-suk
(cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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