South Korean sailor found dead after alleged sexual abuse
SEOUL — A female South Korean navy chief petty officer was found dead at her base, Seoul’s defense ministry said Friday, with local media reporting she had been sexually assaulted by a superior — the latest such incident in the South Korean military.
Public anger is mounting over a series of similar incidents in South Korea, which maintains a conscript army to defend itself against nuclear-armed North Korea.
An air force master sergeant went on trial Friday on charges of sexually assaulting a colleague who took her own life after her complaints were ignored.
South Korea’s air force chief resigned over the issue in June, and the defense minister offered a public apology, saying he “feels a heavy sense of responsibility.”
The navy chief petty officer’s body was found on Thursday. According to media reports, she had complained in May that she had been abused by a senior colleague at a restaurant, but her allegation was not passed up the chain of command or investigated until this month.
President Moon Jae-in was “furious” at the repetition of similar incidents in the military, his office said in a statement.
“I do not know to express my condolences to the bereaved families,” Moon said according to the Blue House.
Defense minister Suh Wook “expressed his regret” over the death of the navy NCO, calling it an “event that should never have happened,” Seoul’s defense ministry said in a statement.
Moon and the minister both ordered that the investigation should be thorough.
Barrack-room bullying and other forms of abuse have long tainted South Korea’s military service.
In March, a transgender South Korean soldier who was forcibly discharged from the army after sex-reassignment surgery took her own life.
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