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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on June 4)

All News 07:07 June 04, 2021

Military must wake up

Our military's demoralization has reached the limit. Following news of shocking meals served to soldiers, sexual harassment has taken place inside the barracks. At the Korea Army Training Center in Nonsan, South Chungcheong, military trainees often don't follow orders from training instructors due to stricter military guidelines on human rights protection. In March, guard posts on the tense eastern border did not detect North Korean soldiers stealthily penetrating into the area. People have started wondering if they can really entrust national security to such a military. No matter how good the weapons an armed force has, they are useless if military discipline is not strictly established.

Last month, a female non-commissioned officer in the Air Force committed suicide after repeated sexual harassment by senior officers over the past year. She reported it to higher officers, but they persuaded her to not make an issue of the case. A lawyer for the victim's family filed a complaint with military prosecutors in the Defense Ministry. That's not all. Another non-commissioned officer in the Air Force was found to have broken into female soldiers' quarters to take picture of their bodies and underwear in the middle of night. The Air Force tried to settle the case by changing the offender's job without arresting him.

Lax discipline is nothing new. Various types of abnormalities, including insubordination and sexual assault, have occurred since last year. We are saddened at this new reality. The primary reason is a lack of military exercises after the Sept. 19, 2018 military agreement in Pyongyang between South and North Korea on the sidelines of the inter-Korean summit. If you prioritize human rights and the welfare of soldiers over strict discipline, such a poor state of a military is inevitable.

The top brass must be held accountable. When it was found that poor meals were served to soldiers, top brass should have taken steps. In a stunning development, substandard meals for soldiers under quarantine after a vacation turned out to have been leftover meals from other soldiers. Commanders with political motivations can not force their soldiers to follow discipline.

This is not the military we want. Our military leaders are supposed to make the Armed Forces stronger and the Blue House must stop politicians from interfering in the promotion of generals. People do not want a shabby military force.
(END)

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