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“Reforming the system so that soldiers can faithfully perform their duties”

Rules protecting four-star generals need to be revised

New rules protecting soldiers against exploitation requested

Minister Song, Young-moo emphasizes the need to positively accept these proposals



The Defense Ministry is launching some tough new reforms to root out various deep-rooted issues including exploitation of soldiers for private use. The Ministry announced on January 24 that "in its 8th meeting held on January 11, the Committee to Eliminate Deep-Rooted Corruption from the Military proposed to eliminate the exploitation of soldiers for private use, and other systematic improvements." The proposal focuses on ensuring that disciplinary actions against four-star generals are more effective, in order to fight the exploitation of soldiers for private use. In addition, future efforts will include preparing a casebook on punishments for misuse of power, strengthening education for commanders including the people concerned and setting the criteria for optimum size of official residences. 

With regard to the disciplinary action against four-star generals, an issue that was highlighted by the incident that occurred last year involving the abuse of soldiers assigned to serve at official residences, the proposal emphasizes the need to promptly revise the military personnel law. While the disciplinary committee should consist of three senior officers, for some high-ranked four-star generals it is currently impossible to organize a disciplinary committee because of an insufficient number of senior officers. After reaching the conclusion that the current situation is unacceptable and the legislative inadequacy needs to be resolved, the committee emphasized that if it is impossible to organize a disciplinary and appeal committee against certain four-star generals, the military personnel law needs to be revised so that four-star generals designated by the defense minister can be commissioned as committee members.”

Defense Minister Song said, “the controversial incident brought about public resentment and I am really disappointed at the fact that some four-star generals have not been disciplined because of the lack of a disciplinary committee,” and emphasized the need to “take any action, including revising the laws, that is necessary to resolve such a problem.”

The committee also provided advice on improving conditions to ensure that active duty soldiers can devote themselves to their duties, commenting that “while the Defense Ministry has made efforts to eradicate the exploitation of soldiers for private use by abolishing the military system in which soldiers are assigned to serve at commanding officers' residences, military golf courses and tennis courts, through revising laws and orders, more specific provisions are required because cases of exploitation for private use still occur, and the direct and specific provisions forbidding it are inadequate.” 

Minister Song requested “careful management to ensure that not a single case of exploitation of enlisted soldiers for private use is allowed” and “the rules be revised by each of the forces by actively accepting the proposed advice.”

The committee also recommended the production and distribution of a casebook on the exploitation of soldiers for private use, human rights education targeting military officers and their families, and the preparation of criteria restricting the size of military officers' residences. Minister Song emphasized the need for a “strengthened legal and institutional basis to enable soldiers to perform their duties faithfully through the active performance of the committee's advices.”

By Su-Yeol, Maeng < >
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