South Korea general, wife accused of forcing soldiers to work as 'slaves'

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |  Aug. 3, 2017 at 10:30 AM
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Aug. 3 (UPI) -- A South Korean four-star general asked to be discharged following accusations of abuse in his household, and a soldier under his supervision may have attempted to commit suicide.

Gen. Park Chan-ju, chief of the South Korean army's second operations command, said he could no longer be active owing to the "remorse I feel for damaging the honor of the army," JoongAng Daily reported Thursday.

According to his former subordinates, Park and his wife preoccupied soldiers with household chores in 2014-15 that went beyond the scope of military service.

At least one soldier was forced to wear an electronic bracelet that would vibrate whenever Park's family members would summon them with bells located in their spacious home.

Soldiers were told to fetch water for Park and his wife, as well as serve meals, including dessert.

Delays in service would be met with threats to send soldiers to unpopular military outposts, or accusations of sluggish performance, according to the Center for Military Human Rights Korea, a government agency.

Physical abuse may have also occurred of soldiers, who lived on a marginal government stipend and toiled in "slave-like" conditions at Park's residence, according to testimony.

Failure on the part of one soldier to deliver snacks to Park's son resulted in a "pancake slap," when Park's wife hit him with a traditional Korean scallion pancake.

It is not uncommon for senior army commanders to supervise so-called housekeeping soldiers who can work at the official's residence while cooking for their commanders, or driving them to their office.

Exploitation of soldiers is rarely reported in South Korea, owing to strict adherence to hierarchy in the country's deeply conservative military.

Local television network KBS reported the victims said in a statement they were overwhelmed by a "sense of shame" for being assigned such trivial duties when they were there to "serve their country."

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