By Hanna Nam, News Writer
Twenty-three year-old private Solider Yun was found dead in April after the continuous physical abuse from his sergeants. Yun was a member of the Korean army.
Six sergeants were found guilty for the unforgivable murder, and four were charged with manslaughter. The 28 division of prosecutor’s office charged the main culprit, Sergeant Lee, with six charges: cause of injury, harsh treatment of physical abuse, coercion, violation of medical law, joint abuse, and indecent act by force.
The Center for Military Human Rights released additional details of the incident in July, revealing the soldier as a victim of regular, grotesque bullying for an extended period. The soldier was forced to stay awake all night in a horseback-riding position. Not only was he sexually harassed, but he was forced to perform atrocious acts, such as swallowing a tube of toothpaste or licking spit off the floor. Furthermore, when Solider Yun began dowsing off, his sergeants tied him up and gave him nutrients only to begin harassing him again after he had regained energy.
The New York Times article written by Choe Sang-Hun describes that Soldier Yun’s death did not catch the public’s attention because, bullying is very common in the Korean army. Sergeants often physically abuse the soldiers in the name of “toughening a solider to face North Korea.”
People took interest, however, when the Center for Military Human Rights Korea reported the soldier as “repeatedly beaten on the head by his sergeants and showing signs of concussion before losing consciousness” (Choe Sang-Hun).
The military has been accused of covering up and closing the case after putting the four soldiers on charges of manslaughter before exposing details in July.
To address this serious bullying problem in the army, the Defense Ministry recently announced a set of measures such as improving conditions in the army barracks and allowing family visits on weekdays, but little else has been done.
Crowds of citizens commemorated Solider Yun’s tragic death by tying purple ribbons on a fence near the location of his funeral.