[EDITORIALS]Military corruptionAs the police investigations of bribery charges related to military procurement make progress, our worry that the Ministry of National Defense might be mired in a network of corruption grows bigger. The investigation of Lee Won-hyung, former director of the Defense Quality Assurance Agency, has now developed into a major corruption scandal involving military research institutes under the three services and the ministry’s personnel managers.
It is known that money from six arms dealers and a few retired and serving generals has flowed into Mr. Lee’s bank account, in which 2.7 billion won ($2.3 million) was found. There were traces of money from the arms dealers’ accounts having been sent to those of other senior military officials. In 2000, the Audit and Inspection Board and the Defense Committee of the National Assembly pointed out problems related to the arms quality improvement projects for which Mr. Lee took bribes. With that history, we assume that someone in a high place pushed the projects ahead despite the objections.
It seems that the flow of money from lower-ranking generals to Mr. Lee’s bank account has to do with corruption related to promotions. If there were irregularities involving personnel policy, it cannot stop at Mr. Lee’s personal corruption. The directors of two major research institutes, the Agency for Defense Development and the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis, have been arrested on charges of bribery and the Military Mutual Aid Association is under investigation for accepting bribes from contractors.
The military must be cleaned up. The Audit and Inspection Board must start a special inspection of the ministry immediately. The police cannot handle the job; it is too big for them. This corruption in procurement and in promotions must be rooted out.
It is cowardly for Chun Yong-taek, a former defense minister who is involved in the scandal, to refuse to appear for interrogation, hiding behind his current position as a lawmaker.
The Our Open Party must persuade Mr. Chun to cooperate with the investigation.