[EDITORIALS]Defense minister must goThe truth revealed yesterday about Sunday’s shooting rampage at a guard post near the Korean border is shocking. The murder of eight fellow soldiers, by a private who had been verbally abused by his superiors, is devastating in itself.
But the military investigation has further revealed that the private had planned to wipe out the entire platoon. He even fired another shot at one of his superiors, to make sure he was dead.
What sort of place is this guard post? It is as close to the border as a soldier gets, only a few hundred meters from a North Korean guard post. The soldiers there must perform their duties without the slightest flaw, through strict discipline and strong bonds with fellow soldiers.
Until now, much of the public may have assumed that such bonds existed. But at the frontlines of the nation’s security, verbal abuse by superiors was rampant, and a tragedy occurred because a private on the receiving end became vindictive.
This case therefore raises a problem even more serious than that of the suicides that occur in the military from time to time. It clearly shows that there are critical problems with our security. We can no longer rely on anything if an outpost on the inter-Korean border can crumble so helplessly.
Military leaders should keep in mind that this case is contributing to anger and distrust toward our military. With avoidance of military service on the rise, who would want to go into the military if young men are dying for no reason? As parents of soldiers, and potential soldiers, swamp the Defense Ministry’s Web site with their concerns, the military should squarely face up to this situation.
Yet Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung and other military leaders are trying to settle the matter with a public apology, condolences to the families of the dead, reprimands sent down the chain of command and an accident prevention plan. This cannot be. A government, whose first task is to safeguard its people’s lives, is not a government when it does not take responsibility after such a tragedy.
The recent failure to find a North Korean who crossed the Demilitarized Zone should have prompted more serious action in and of itself. Command responsibility and political responsibility should be questioned. Minister Yoon should resign.