[top10]String of abuse cases a blow for the militaryThe nation’s military saw its reputation on the line this year following a series of fatal incidents in the barracks and a number of procurement irregularities.
Tragedy struck on June 21, when an Army sergeant stationed on the border in Gangwon Province went on a shooting spree, killing five soldiers and wounding seven others. A two-day standoff ensured, with military authorities only managing to capture the troubled soldier after he attempted suicide.
The incident shed light on the military’s poor psychological evaluation system and raised questions around culture in the barracks.
Those concerns were underscored again at the end of July, when revelations regarding the death of a young conscript on April 6 were revealed by the media. A subsequent investigation found that the private first class had endured weeks of brutal physical abuse and sexual humiliation during his less than four months in service.
Four of his fellow soldiers were indicted for murder, though later convicted of manslaughter in a court martial. A month later, General Kwon Oh-sung, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stepped down from his position after unrelenting public backlash.
New cases continued to come to light one by one after that.
The military also saw itself marred in corruption scandals involving major procurement projects, the most notable being the Tongyeong program to build a next-generation salvage ship.
President Park Geun-hye promised swift reform, and in November the government launched a massive investigation with prosecutors, the military, police and the financial authorities.