Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Coast Guard reprise?

An interesting article from JoongAng Daily:

The latest shooting spree at a Marine post on Ganghwa Island is utterly shocking. Six years ago we believed that a military accident like the one at an Army unit in Yeoncheon, north of Seoul - in which eight Army soldiers were killed and two injured by a grenade and an indiscriminate rifle shooting - would never be repeated. But similar carnage took place again, and this time at a Marine unit. We wonder what the military authorities have done to prevent such tragedies for six years.

Similar to the Yeoncheon massacre, which was carried out by a private first class who had suffered from verbal abuse by his superiors, the Ganghwa accident was committed by a corporal who had been bullied by his subordinates. The porous weapons control system was also not fixed, and commanders didn’t pay heed to a troubled young soldier who could resort to violence.

Considering our military environment, where hot-blooded young men live in a confined space under strict rules, the possibility for such tragedies is always there. But the state has done nothing to avert that possibility, and that’s its duty.

Our soldiers and their families fully deserve fair treatment from the government because they join the military to fulfill their military duty under the current conscription system. The state should provide special care and sufficient compensation for soldiers when they get injured or lose their lives during drills or in battle against enemies. The state must make sure that it doesn’t lose lives in any other way or circumstance. That’s why we dub our military duty “sacred.”

The government and military must come up with extraordinary measures to prevent such unnecessary deaths of our young soldiers. We should stamp out the wishy-washy attitude among top brass that such accidents can happen in our armed forces because it is a military. Instead of trying to settle the case by holding some front-line commanders accountable, they must come up with a detailed and concrete set of solutions to stave off such tragedies. That’s more urgent than the military reform they’re so obsessed with. We urge Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin to sort out the mess.

A strong Army is not created by high-powered weapons but by mutual trust among soldiers and a spirit of sacrifice in times of crisis. The Marines are famous for their valor and bravery in the toughest of circumstances. The latest tragedy has shattered the reputation of our Marines as well as our faith in the state. 


SEOUL – A South Korean marine went on a shooting spree on Monday at a base near the tense maritime border with North Korea, killing four fellow soldiers before trying to blow himself up with a hand grenade, the military said.
The incident was not related to the ongoing inter-Korean conflict which has simmered since 1953 when the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
A fifth soldier was injured in the attack.
“After firing his K-2 rifle inside the marines’ living quarters, a hand grenade was detonated in a separate building compartment outside,” marine’s spokesman Colonel Kim Tae-Eun told a press briefing.
“No one else was present in the compartment aside from the shooter Corporal Kim.”
The shooting took place at a base on Gangwha Island off the divided peninsula’s west coast, the scene of numerous incidents between the rival Koreas in recent years.
It was not immediately clear what motivated the marine’s actions.
In a similar incident in 2005, a South Korean private killed eight soldiers when he threw a hand grenade inside a border post barracks and fired dozens of gunshots.
Military service is compulsory in the South for all young men.
Seoul has boosted its military presence in the West Sea area after blaming North Korea for two deadly attacks last year. It has warned of a swift and decisive response in the event of further armed aggression by its neighbor.
A total of 50 South Koreans were killed in last year’s attacks — the first involved the torpedoing of a South Korean warship while in the second an island was shelled.
The North denies it was behind the ship sinking and said it was provoked into shelling the island by a South military drill in the area.
- Reuters