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Moon Jae-in requests overhaul in South Korea's military after woman's death

Moon Jae-in requests overhaul in South Korea's military after woman's death
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) poses with Gen. Park In-ho during the latter's appointment as the new Air Force chief of staff, at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Friday. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

July 2 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for "fundamental improvements" in his country's military during an appointment ceremony for Gen. Park In-ho in the aftermath of a sex abuse and death case of a female master sergeant in the Air Force.

Park, 56, will serve as Seoul's new Air Force chief after the resignation of Gen. Lee Seong-yong. Lee has said he bears "heavy responsibility" for the death of the woman, who remains unidentified.

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Moon said Friday at the ceremony that he hoped Park's inauguration will transform the military into a "truly powerful force, by overhauling its current state of morale and reforming its barracks culture," Yonhap reported.

The South Korean Air Force has "defended peaceful civilian life" by operating "unmanned combat system Global Hawk and a Korean missile defense system," Moon said, according to local news service MoneyToday.

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"They played a variety of roles, such as delivering quarantine materials or evacuating people in the event of disaster."

Park said he would commit himself to making changes in the Air Force that would create a system that "works properly."

"I will devote myself to the [South Korean] people as Air Force chief," Park said.

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Last month, South Korea's defense ministry confirmed that a male colleague molested the female master sergeant inside a car in March while returning to base.

The woman's family said she reported the case to superiors, but they attempted to cover up the incident and pressured the victim into a settlement with her abuser. She died by suicide in May.

Defense Minister Suh Wook said Friday that the military must create a culture that "respects human rights, reforms the military police, military prosecutors, and military courts," according to MoneyToday.

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Women in South Korea's military previously died by suicide in 2013 and 2017 after alleged sexual assault and rape, according to local press reports.

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