June 30, 2005

South Korean Nude Soldier Photos Surface En Masse

Text of report by Brian Lee, published in English by South Korean newspaper Chungang Ilbo web site on 30 June

Adding to an already embarrassing disclosure for the South Korean military, a civic group released a batch of 88 photos showing more nude soldiers in positions suspected to be hazing rituals.

The photos -which depict soldiers in a variety of humiliating positions requested by their superiors - were received through e- mail, the civic group said. There was no official reaction from the Defence Ministry.

"Some might say this is all part of reminiscences of the military," said Oh Chang-ik, an official with the civic group. "But one has to ask whether such actions violate human rights. The bigger problem is that such acts are not viewed as a crime."

Earlier this month, nude photos of Marines surfaced on the Internet. Defence Ministry officials said they were investigating the circumstances of the photos and the identity of the Marines. The National Human Rights Commission of Korea said yesterday it would monitor the investigation and launch its own if the ministry's findings are unsatisfactory in their view.

Separately, the government and the governing Uri Party agreed yesterday to strengthen laws against hazing and make sexual harassment punishable by up to 10 years in prison. They have also proposed measures to improve human rights in military prisons by allowing prisoners to have access to telephones, TVs and newspapers.