More details have emerged of the abuse suffered by a private in the South Korean Army who died after intense physical bullying from fellow soldiers, and photos of his body reveal it to be black and blue with bruises. The incident has sparked outrage and concern for other young soldiers who may be suffering hazing or other problems during their intense mandatory two-year conscription.

Warning: This post contains graphic imagery and descriptions of violence.

Shock and anger has continued to spread through the South Korean media as details of the death of a private with the army’s 28th division became clear at a press conference held by the Center for Military Human Rights on July 31.

South Korea has compulsory military service where every male must serve at least 21 months between the ages of 18 and 35 on either active or non-active duty, unless given special exemption. Most men will enter in their early 20s, with those drafted as active soldiers spending around two years of their lives confined to their assigned unit. Recently the problem of mental health problems and endemic bullying within the army has come into the spotlight after a string of deaths including suicides, and a shooting rampage in June.

Private Yoon was a new soldier assigned to the army’s 28th division. He died in April from damage to the brain caused by asphyxiation after his respiratory tract became blocked with food, cutting off his oxygen supply. It is now clear that while he was eating he received blows to his head and torso and collapsed, the food becoming stuck in his throat. His attackers are being charged with manslaughter.

However, the Center for Military Human Rights found that Private Yoon had endured habitual assault and unethically cruel treatment every day since entering the army in March, until the day of his death on April 6.

The severe hazing came from more senior soldiers in his group, who supposedly targeted him because of his looks, and because he was slow to respond. The violence and bullying against Private Yoon included forcing him to eat an entire tube of toothpaste and to lick spit from the floor, sexual humiliation by smearing ointment on his genitals, and depriving him of sleep. When he was in pain, the soldiers gave him an IV drip of vitamins, telling him that once he had recovered they would increase the assaults.

Head of the Centre for Military Human Rights Lim Tae-hoon said, “Looking at the situation of habitual violence and systematic destruction of evidence, the charges against the assailants must be changed from manslaughter to murder.”

Five men including four who perpetrated the violence and one vice officer who tacitly condoned their actions are on trial and 16 others in the unit have been reprimanded. The investigation is still underway.

▼ The photo below shows the injuries Private Yoon sustained at the hands of his assailants. The bruising covered his legs, arms, and torso.


Source: Alfalfalfa