South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook publicly apologized for the case of a military woman who recently took her own life after being sexually harassed by a colleague and the armed forces apparently trying to cover up the case.
“I am very sorry for the problems caused to the family and loved ones due to the recent death of the victim of sexual abuse. As defense minister, I feel a great responsibility,” Suh said in a parliamentary session.
“The ministry will thoroughly investigate every detail of the case, including suspected attempts to appease the victim and hide it,” the minister added in statements collected by the Yonhap news agency. Suh explained that his portfolio will also review “the system for managing sexual crimes with a view to proposing fundamental reforms” in it.
Suh Wook, South Korean Defense Minister, apologized to the victim’s family.
The minister already said at the time that he was notified of the case on May 25, three days after the military committed suicide.
The Air Force sergeant, whose last name was only revealed (Lee), committed suicide on May 22 in the city of Seosan (about 100 kilometers southwest of Seoul), after in March a colleague of the same rank would grope and abuse her in a car after a business dinner.
The case outraged public opinion because, despite the sergeant’s complaint, the Armed Forces apparently did not activate an investigation and they tried to convince her to reach an economic agreement with her attacker to cover up the event.
South Korean officials and military publicly apologized.
The sergeant accused of having abused her is under arrest and they began to interrogate superiors who were relieved of their duties for allegedly trying to convince the woman to reach an agreement so that the case did not transcend.
She was also allegedly abused by one of these superiors prior to the March incident, Yonhap reports.
Another scandalous case
In March, the South Korean Armed Forces had been harshly questioned after a military woman who was expelled from the army after undergoing a sex change surgery was found dead.
Byun hee-soo, a 20-year-old sergeant, had voluntarily enlisted in the military as a man in 2017, before undergoing surgery in Thailand for a sex change.
Compared to other Asian countries, South Korea is deeply conservative on aspects of sexual identity, and homosexual relations between the military are liable to be penalized.
Byun Hee-soo, the soldier who was fired for changing her gender.
Turning into a woman, she communicated to her hierarchy her desire to continue in the army. A military commission ordered his expulsion from the military institution in January 2020, since the Defense Ministry considered that the loss of his genital parts constituted a mental and physical problem.
Following his expulsion, Byun came out of anonymity to defend his cause. “I am a military officer of the Republic of Korea,” he said. He explained at the time that being in the military was a childhood dream but said he suffered from depression due to “Gender dysphoria” or gender identity disorder. Hence your choice to have surgery.
“I want to show everyone that regardless of my sexual identity, I can be one of the great soldiers defending the country,” he had said. “Please give me this opportunity,” the young woman implored.
Military service is compulsory in South Korea, where the army is primarily tasked with protecting the territory from the threat of North Korea. Every fit man must serve two years of military service.