[NYT] Outrage Builds in South Korea in Deadly Abuse of a Soldier

August 7, 2014

This photo released by KBS television on Aug. 4, 2014, shows an Army solider re-enacting his assault on a fellow soldier at their barracks near the inter-Korean border in April 2014. The victim was beaten to death. (Yonhap)

[THE NEW YORK TIMES]  SEOUL, South Korea — The soldiers beat the 20-year-old private almost every day for more than a month. They flogged him with a mop handle until it broke. They made him eat toothpaste and lick their spittle off the floor. At one point, when he became groggy, they hooked him up to an intravenous drip, gave him nutrients and then, when he seemed to regain energy, they kicked and punched him some more.

According to South Korean Army investigators, the abuse finally ended on April 6, when the victim, who has been identified only as Private First Class Yoon, collapsed, choking on a piece of food during a beating. He was pronounced dead at a hospital the next day.

The case at first drew little notice in South Korea — just another sad episode, it seemed, in an army where physical abuse was tolerated, if not officially approved, in the name of toughening a conscript army to face North Korea.

But that changed last week, after a human rights group published the details from the army’s internal investigation, along with photos of Private Yoon’s body covered with bruises and gashes. [READ MORE]