A South Korean marine has hanged himself in his barracks, an official said today, in a new blow to the Marine Corps after a corporal who claimed he was bullied went on a deadly shooting spree last week.
The 19-year-old Private First Class, identified only as Jung, was found by colleagues Sunday night hanging in a barracks shower room in the southeastern port of Pohang, a Marine Corps spokesman said.
Military investigators found an apparent suicide note in his locker with complaints about his life and a message for his parents.
“Investigations are under way to determine the reason for the suicide and if there was any harsh treatment (of Jung),” the spokesman told AFP.
The defense ministry vowed a crackdown on bullying throughout the 650,000-strong largely conscript military.
The elite Marine Corps is reeling from a storm of criticism following the July 4 shooting rampage by a marine corporal who complained of bullying and beatings by superiors.
The shooting at a barracks on Ganghwa island, west of Seoul and near the tense sea border with North Korea, left four soldiers dead and one injured.
A marine private arrested for allegedly assisting Kim’s rampage also claimed to have been bullied but denied involvement in the actual shooting.
The military has vowed to make “utmost efforts” to end bullying in barracks following an emergency order from Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin.
The Marine Corps is responsible for guarding frontline islands in the Yellow Sea near the disputed border with the North.
But last week’s incident – the third to afflict the military overall in six years – raised questions about standards of discipline in the armed forces.
How do you bully someone, especially if you are on the same team?