Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin on Monday apologized and pledged to discipline commanders responsible for the failure to detect a North Korea solider crossing the border.
Kim said in a press briefing that the ministry admitted its failure to keep its military units on security alert at all times on the front-line and a proper reporting system in the chain of command.
“We sincerely apologize to the public for failing to inform of the incident truthfully, and causing confusion,” Kim said.
Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin
The ministry said it would take disciplinary measures against those responsible for the fiasco, including 14 commanding generals and senior officers at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the 22nd Infantry Unit, the First Army and the 8th Corps.
The defense minister said it has held commanders of the First Army and the 8th Corps responsible, and gave them a “severe warning.”
It dismissed the commander of the 22nd Infantry Unit in Goseong, Gwangwon Province that failed to detect a North Korea solider crossing over the border and report properly to its superior units of the 8th Corps and the First Army.
The JCS and the Defense Ministry also were not told of the incident on Oct. 2 when the North Korean soldier jumped over three fences on the border without being spotted and knocked on the door of a South Korean barracks of the 22nd Infantry Unit wishing to defect.
The unit initially filed a false report stating that the identity of the North Korean solider had been confirmed via CCTV. However, the JCS found that the CCTV camera was not operating properly due to a technical error, and did not record anything on Oct 2.
Kim’s apology comes after he was reprimanded by President Lee Myung-bak over the Army’s mismanagement of border security and communications.
The incident marked the biggest security failure since the sinking of the Cheonan warship by North Korea, which cost then-Defense Minister Kim Tae-young his post and lead to a public outcry.
Minister Kim said the Army would strengthen security and make up its faults with advanced systems at general outposts as soon as possible.
By Park Hyong-ki (firstname.lastname@example.org)