Defense chief vows to overhaul military culture

By Catherine Chung
  • Published : Aug 6, 2017 - 09:44
  • Updated : Aug 6, 2017 - 09:44
South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo visited the boot camp of a front-line Army unit Saturday amid fierce criticism about alleged human rights abuse by a four-star general.

Meeting with new conscripts at the 28th Division in Paju, near the inter-Korean border, Song pledged efforts to reform the military culture, according to his ministry.

"Treating troops on the sacred duty of national defense unfairly or giving them private instructions can't happen," the minister said. "(I) will try to establish a military where you are valued and serve with pride." 

Defense Minister Song Young-moo speaks to new soldiers at the training camp of the Army`s 28th Division in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, on Aug. 5, 2017, in this photo provided by his ministry. (Yonhap)

The country's military is under fire after revelations that Gen. Park Chan-ju, commanding general of the 2nd Operational Command, and his wife treated rank-and-file soldiers assigned to serve at his official residence like "slaves."

They were forced to do household chores under inhumane conditions, including wearing electronic bracelets that vibrated when they were called to do services, such as laundry for the commander's son, according to multiple tip-offs confirmed by the defense ministry's probe.

The ministry requested military prosecutors to look into the case. Park is expected to face abuse of power and human rights violation charges.

All able-bodied South Korean men are obliged to serve in the military for about two years. There are around 620,000 South Korean troops confronting North Korea's 1.1-million armed forces. (Yonhap)