[Letters] Cutting the chains of corruption in the military

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[Letters] Cutting the chains of corruption in the military

Some defense product and service providers and executives at subcontractors are facing a trial for the charge of embezzling several billion won by inflating the import price of parts for major optical equipment used in various military firearms. Only about a month ago an allegation was raised that defective parts had been supplied for anti-aircraft guns, one of the key aspects in the air defense of Korea.

Corruption with military suppliers cannot be taken lightly as it is directly related to the loss in combat capability of the ROK Armed Forces. Corruption in the defense industry is not limited to the weapons and equipment either. People are also growing increasingly wary as the quality of both Kimchi and combat boots are being compromised.

Corruption in the defense industry is an aggregated outcome of systematic shortcomings, lack of will on the part of the major policy makers and the chronic collusion between interested parties.

However, in order to eradicate the ever-repeated corruption by military suppliers, we need to re-examine the attitude of society as a whole. Corruption in military purveyance contractors is not new. When a shocking corruption scandal involving a military contractor emerges, people raise their voice to call for decisive action but as time goes by the entire society goes back to normal life and forgets about the scandal altogether.

We need to bring wisdom and opinions together to create a social atmosphere in which military suppliers’ corruption is punished strictly and heavily. Various systematic devices need to be applied organically to cut off the motivation for corruption from the beginning. Price manipulation for parts and equipment should be checked and heavy fines should be imposed to offset unlawful gains. A database needs to be created and maintained to keep records of the companies and the executives involved in corruption and offenses that exceed a certain level should be punished severely.

The government and the National Assembly need to acknowledge the problem and work together to implement necessary policy measures and to address legislative needs. The National Assembly also needs to provide the apparatus to discuss and verify defense industry-related issues. We all need to create a social atmosphere and culture in which those involved in corruption are ostracized in our society.

*Letters and commentaries for publication should be addressed “Letters to the Editor.” E-mailed letters should be sent to eopinion@joongang.co.kr.

Cha Du-hyun, a research fellow at the Korea Institute of Defense Analyses.
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