South Korean defense chief apologizes over death of alleged sexual abuse victim in navy

Days after reporting sexual harassment, noncommissioned female navy officer found dead at her residence on Thursday

ANKARA (AA) – South Korea’s defense minister on Friday apologized over the apparent suicide of a female navy officer amid a probe into allegations that a senior colleague sexually harassed her, local media reported.

A noncommissioned female Navy officer, whose identity has been withheld, was found dead in her residence on Thursday, after reporting days earlier that she had suffered sexual harassment in May, according to Yonhap News Agency.

“I am sorry to the bereaved family and to the people that what should not have happened has happened,” the agency quoted Defense Minister Suh Wook as saying.

“Considering the gravity of the case, we will form a special investigation team … and conduct a thorough investigation so as not to leave an inch of suspicion,” the defense minister added.

The alleged victim was said to have claimed that she was harassed by the senior colleague at an off-base restaurant in late May.

Earlier in May, another female air force officer allegedly committed suicide after sexual assault.

Her seniors have been accused of attempting to cover up the crime. She was found dead at her residence in late May in an apparent suicide, according to the news agency.

In June, President Moon Jae-in called for a complete “overhaul of military culture” in the country and directed the government to establish a task force to come up with “fundamental” measures to change the barracks culture.

The country’s air force chief Gen. Lee Seong-yong also resigned after that incident.


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