Bad tidings now borne face-to-face

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Bad tidings now borne face-to-face

The familiar scene in Hollywood films in which a car bearing a military officer pulls up to a house to gravely inform a family of a soldier’s death is an exotic idea for Koreans.

In Korea, the military notifies a family of its son’s death on duty by telephone.

But, according to Air Force officials yesterday, Korea has now adopted the American model.

Last week, the military implemented a “death notice officer system” for the first time to break the sad news to the families of two pilots killed in the crash of an F-5F jet on a training mission near Gangneung, Gangwon.

The fighter jet crashed last Friday into the East Sea killing Lt. Col. Park Jeong-wu, 49, and First Lt. Jeong Seong-ung, 28.

Park and Jeong were posthumously promoted to colonel and captain, respectively. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The officials said the Air Force designated Lt. Col. Gu Gwan-mo at a military base located closest to Songtan, Gyeonggi, where the family of the late Park resides, as death notice officer for Park’s family. Gu, in full uniform, went to Park’s house, informed Park’s wife of his death and on Sunday accompanied her in a limousine to Park’s funeral ceremony in Gangneung, Gangwon.

For the family of Jeong, who live in Seoul, the Air Force sent Maj. Min Gyeong-won, from the Third Air Defense Artillery Brigade in Gyeonggi, which is nearest to Seoul, as death notice officer. Min also escorted Jeong’s family to the funeral in Gangneung, officials said.

The death notice officer system was started in the aftermath of the sinking of warship Cheonan in March, which claimed the lives of 46 sailors.

“We will keep this system in place to show our full respect for the soldiers killed on duty,” a military official said.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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