First Army head let go for improper behaviorGeneral Shin Hyun-don, the commander of Korea’s First Army, was discharged for inappropriate conduct while under the influence of alcohol, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday.
The 58-year-old was discharged for having left his area of duty during the military’s special readiness period in June. During a visit to his hometown in Cheongju, his aides were also involved in a drunken altercation with passersby at a highway rest area while Shin was using the bathroom.
This is the first time that a four-star general has been discharged for inappropriate behavior. Shin’s punishment amounted to dismissal.
According to the ministry, Shin left his assigned area to visit Cheongju High School, his alma mater, in Cheongju, North Chungcheong, to give a lecture to students on June 19. He also drank alcohol with his hometown friends during the trip.
At the time, the military was maintaining special readiness postures because President Park Geun-hye was out of the country on a tour around Central Asia. Shin was responsible for overseeing the area where a fatal shooting spree was carried out by a soldier in the Army’s 22nd Infantry Division. The Army sergeant went on a fatal rampage on June 21 at a general outpost near the eastern front in Goseong, Gangwon, killing five solders and wounding several more.
The ministry said Shin failed to maintain his dignity as a service member with his disorderly conduct and left his post at a sensitive time. After an internal investigation, Shin submitted paperwork for a military discharge.
After graduating from the Korea Military Academy in 1979, Shin served in several key posts, including as the spokesman of the Defense Ministry.
In 2012, while serving as the operations headquarters commander of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he was replaced for failing to properly report to the upper chain of command the defection of a North Korean soldier.
The soldier managed to cross the border undetected and knocked at a South Korean guard post to express his intention to defect. Despite the incident, Shin was promoted to head the First Army in September 2013.
By JEONG YONG-SOO, SER MYO-JA [email@example.com]