Calls for Kim Kwan-jin to take the fall for soldier’s fatal beating

Posted on : 2014-08-07 17:48 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Pres. Park had pledged to punish those responsible, and then-Defense Minister, Kim allegedly covered up report of the death
 Aug. 7. (by Lee Jeong-yong
Aug. 7. (by Lee Jeong-yong

By Seo Bo-mi, staff reporter and Seok Jin-hwan, Blue House correspondent

Politicians were up in arms on Aug. 6 calling for Blue House national security office chief Kim Kwan-jin to be held accountable for his tepid response as Minister of National Defense at the time to reports about a soldier’s fatal beating in April.

Now President Park Geun-hye and the leader of the ruling Saenuri Party (NFP), who previously pledged to “set an example” by punishing those responsible, are blaming the incident on “education,” in what observers are seeing as an attempt to put the situation to bed with the resignation of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Kwon Oh-sung the previous day.

The victim of the group beating, a private first class identified by his surname Yoon, was a member of the 28th Infantry Division.

Speaking with reporters at the National Assembly on Aug. 6, Saenuri Party leader Kim Moo-sung dismissed the idea that Kim Kwan-jin should be held responsible for the death.

“I haven’t been to the military, so I don’t really know, but I think it’s kind of a big thing for the Chief of Staff to take responsibility,” the Kim said.

Analysts took this as saying the situation could be seen as resolved with Kwon’s resignation.

Kim Moo-sung also brought up the “education” issue.

“Everyone’s talking about the military culture - where do you think this kind of thing comes from? It’s education,” Kim said, before urging education authorities to “think hard about the misguided educational environment.”

President Park echoed the argument at a cultural convergence committee meeting the same day.

“The goal of our education needs to be developing well-rounded people with strong character and creativity,” she said, adding that this would be “one fundamental way of resolve the issues that our society are facing right now - violence and human rights violations in the military, and ostracism and bullying in schools.”

 staff photographer)
staff photographer)

But with the opposition making serious criticisms of Kim Kwan-jin, the ruling party is now expected to find itself in a battle over whether he should be held responsible for Yoon’s death. The two sides are already squaring off over the issue of a special law on the Sewol ferry sinking and hearings for a parliamentary audit.

Park Young-sun, chairperson of the New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) emergency measures committee appeared on MBC radio on Aug. 6 to criticize the military’s handling of the incident and call for Kim to be held responsible.

“The report that reached Kim Kwan-jin’s desk twelve hours later on the day after [Yoon’s death] said that [Yoon] had died from a group beating,” Park said. “He knew, and he covered it up.”

Senior NPAD spokesperson Yoo Ki-hong made similar remarks at a briefing the same day.

“President Park Geun-hye said at a Cabinet meeting that there needs to be punishment to set an example, and the person punished should be Kim Kwan-jin,” Yoo said.

“Instead of doing the cowardly thing and trying to make his subordinates take responsibility, Mr. Kim should take it upon himself to step down,” Yoo added.

Critics from inside the Saenuri Party joined in the criticism, noting two high-profile mass shooting incidents that took place in the military during Kim‘s tenure as Minister of National Defense, including a 2011 spree killing at a Marine base on Ganghwa Island and the recent killing of five people at the 22nd Infantry Division general outpost.

“Around 2011, [then-Minister Kim] gave orders to handle any incidents within the bases themselves, and not report them to the Army Chief of Staff or Minister of National Defense,” said Saenuri lawmaker Ha Tae-keung during a PBC radio network appearance on Aug. 6.

“[Such orders] reduce [the military’s] ability to respond to such accidents,” Ha added. “[Kim] deserves to be criticized for that.”

28th infantry division to talk with soldiers
28th infantry division to talk with soldiers


Please direct questions or comments to []


Related stories

Most viewed articles