[EDITORIALS]Army probe is neededAn army general was recently detained on charges of embezzlement. It is the first time that an active-duty general has been detained for personal misbehavior. The general’s detention has come as a shock to the army and the public as well.
Details of the allegations against Gen. Shin Il-sun, the deputy commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, have yet to be disclosed. The military prosecution has blocked access to the case and has yet to give an official briefing. But sources have said that the charges on the detention warrant for the general were of embezzling 150 million won ($125,000) of public funds.
It would be regrettable if the charges are true. This is not the first time that the army has been tainted with allegations of corruption. It goes without saying that high-ranking officials, including generals, are expected to have a higher sense of ethics than others. Their reward, in turn, is honor and the respect of the people. General Shin was also the highest channel in our military cooperation with the United States. His detention is an embarrassment for us in the face of our ally. The authorities must conduct a thorough investigation and demand strict responsibility.
At the same time, we must pay attention to other statements coming from sources within the army. They have claimed that some of the misdeeds that the general allegedly committed, such as using public funds to entertain guests and hold social events, were commonplace in the army. If that is the case, no one in the army will be free from corruption. To root out the “illegal but customary” corruption, the authorities should reform both the system and the mentality of the officials.
The defense minister and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that any “malicious, anonymous letter to harm someone” would be thoroughly investigated. This only goes to affirm our suspicions that things are happening within the army that should not be happening. It is quite worrisome to think that army officials could accuse one another with the malicious intention of slander. The authorities should also take this opportunity to restore discipline and transparency in the personnel management of the army.