Halting all training and daily tasks, all military personnel from commanders to draftees will receive a one-day special human rights education this week following a series of tragic incidents in barracks, the defense ministry said Thursday.
Last week, an Army private first class, who died in April from asphyxiation after being hit by his senior comrades and choking on some snacks he had been eating, was found to have long suffered brutal physical, mental and even sexual abuse. In June, an Army sergeant went on a shooting spree, killing five and wounding seven others after allegedly being bullied by his colleagues.
"In consideration of the seriousness (of the recent cases), all soldiers in every unit will stop their daily tasks on Friday and receive special human rights education all day long," defense ministry representative Kim Min-seok said.
The one-day program, to be implemented under the order of Defense Minister Han Min-koo, aims to raise awareness of the seriousness of physical and verbal abuses at barracks and to prevent a recurrence of such tragic incidents, it added.
Lectures by experts and open discussions will also be included, according to the ministry.
"It will be a venue for even privates to talk about what they have experienced or suffered freely to share difficulties and to find potential problems," Kim said.
Reeling from a series of tragic incidents, the military and the government have been grappling with how to maintain tight discipline while guaranteeing the rights of servicemen.
On Wednesday, a committee comprising military officers, government officials, veterans, parents of active soldiers and experts was set up to draw up a comprehensive plan by yearend to uproot bad practices and to reform the outdated military culture. (Yonhap)