President Park Geun-hye expressed condolences Monday to the families of the victims of a recent deadly shooting rampage in a military unit near the tense border with North Korea.
Park called on the military to thoroughly determine the cause of the rampage and come up with measures to ensure that a similar incident does not recur.
"I convey my deep sympathy to the victims' families," Park said in a meeting with senior presidential secretaries. She also apologized to the worried parents whose sons are serving in the military.
The comments came more than a week after an Army sergeant went on a shooting rampage, killing five comrades and wounding seven others.
The suspect fled and made a botched suicide attempt before being captured on June 23. He has yet to recover.
The motive for the shooting spree remains unknown as the 22-year-old sergeant has refused to answer questions from military investigators.
The incident is not the first time that a South Korean soldier has attacked his comrades. In 2011, a Marine Corps corporal went on a shooting spree at a seaside unit on Ganghwa Island, west of Seoul, killing four soldiers and wounding one.
All able-bodied South Korean men must carry out compulsory military service for about two years in a country facing North Korea across the heavily fortified border.
Also Monday, Park called for pushing ahead with reform measures to revitalize the economy, saying that time is running out.
The comments came amid growing concerns that recovery of Asia's fourth-largest economy might be losing its traction and could turn to a low-growth mode.
Domestic demand, including consumption and corporate investment, remains lackluster. In particular, consumption has slumped significantly following a deadly ferry disaster in April that left more than 300 people dead or missing.
Park also vowed to improve the system in finding and vetting candidates for senior government posts as she asked the rival parties to improve the current confirmation hearing system.
Last week, Park asked Prime Minister Chung Hong-won to stay in his post after her two choices for the country's No. 2 political job recently withdrew their names ahead of parliamentary confirmation hearings.
Chung had offered to quit in April following the ferry accident, but he will keep his job in what is seen as a desperate bid by Park to keep state affairs from being distracted by a parliamentary confirmation hearing a new nominee is required to go through.
In South Korea, the prime minister is the only Cabinet post that requires parliamentary confirmation.
Critics say hearings frequently end up humiliating the nominee mainly over his or her past records or ethical lapses, not debating about his or her skills required for the job. (Yonhap)