Runaway Army private found dead

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Runaway Army private found dead

A young Army private who escaped from his unit on Jan. 16 in Mokpo, South Jeolla, was found dead on Friday floating in the sea near Mokpo North Harbor.

According to the Army, the soldier, surnamed Lee, disappeared early Jan. 16 after patrolling the coastline around Mokpo North Harbor from 4 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. After his shift, he allegedly told his comrade that he had a stomachache and needed to use the bathroom. He was last seen walking away toward a shipping container, the military said.

Lee reportedly carried away a K2 rifle that contained 10 blank shells, but no live ammunition.

On the fifth day of its search, the military switched its focus to the sea, taking into account that Lee may have died during the prolonged operation. The military had deployed 10 sonar devices, which can detect objects under water, and 42 scuba divers in the search for Lee.

The military is still investigating the details surrounding his death.

Lee joined the military in April and was stationed in Mokpo the following month. Military authorities said that he did not require extra attention for mental health reasons and had not previously shown any signs of maladjustment.

Last week, the Ministry of National Defense announced that it would tighten its criteria for joining the military for the first conscription examination this year “to make sure those who are mentally and physically healthy can join the military,” according to the ministry.

BY PARK YUNA [ypc3c@joongang.co.kr]


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