[EDITORIALS]If generals take bribes ...Five army generals are charged with accepting money from the manager of a community hall for military personnel and taking bribes from army officers seeking promotions. It is difficult to say that these charges, if proved true, indicate that our military structure is corruption-ridden, but they show great laxity in the army. The Ministry of Defense must inspect the service thoroughly to see whether there are endemic problems. It should also provide a reform plan that can prevent recurrence of such irregularities.
According to the charges, the manager of the facility skimmed money over a period of four years and paid monthly bribes to supervising officers in the Defense Ministry. There appears to be the possibility that the irregularities had been going on for a longer time, and the supervisors were at the end of a chain of corruption in the ministry that had been handed down from their predecessors.
More serious is the allegation that the ministry learned of the irregularity through an internal audit but tried to gloss over it. When the Board of Audit and Inspection started its investigation, the ministry ordered its joint investigation team to begin an inspection of its own. Suspicions of a cover-up and a phony investigation should be addressed, and persons who may have given the orders should be made accountable. Also necessary is to investigate the existence of similar corruption chains in other military organizations nationwide.
It is shocking, if true, that a general accepted a bribe of 50 million won ($40,600) from a lieutenant colonel who wanted to be promoted. The many rumors of promotion bribes may at last be proved. Such conduct defies the meaning of the Defense Ministry’s repeated emphasis on “transparency and fairness” in its personnel policy.
Corruption in the military service is more serious than in other branches of government. In particular, if bribes are exchanged for promotions, the morale and organizational unity of the military are undermined. How can we trust such an army with our national security? We should take steps to make bribery in the military impossible.