Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Two dead as reservist goes on rampage

13 May 2015, 10:32

Seoul -A South Korean reservist went on a shooting spree that left one comrade dead and three wounded on Wednesday before shooting himself dead, as Amnesty International urged Seoul to rethink mandatory military service.

The unidentified reservist opened fire with his rifle on his fellow soldiers during shooting practice at a military training camp in southern Seoul before turning the gun on himself, a defence ministry spokesman said.

"The man killed himself on the spot following the shooting spree that killed one of his fellow reservists and wounded three others," the spokesman told AFP.

"The exact reason is still not clear, but our initial investigation found the incident appeared to be related to a personal matter," he added.

According to the Yonhap news agency, "Gangnam Style" singer Psy, who is also a reservist, had been at the same training camp performing his mandatory military duty and left just 20 minutes before the shooting.

Every able-bodied South Korean male between the ages of 18 and 35 is required to serve two years in the military.

Upon completion, they must serve in the reserve forces for eight more years, with a maximum of 160 hours of duty per year.

Apart from those with physical disabilities, exemptions are rare and anyone refusing to serve -- for moral or religious reasons - faces an automatic jail term.

Wednesday's shooting incident came as Amnesty International released a report calling on South Korea to release hundreds of young men jailed for refusing conscription, and urging Seoul to offer alternatives to serving in the military.

Jailing refuseniks a 'scandal'

Most prominent among the "refuseniks" are Jehovah's Witnesses, some 12,000 of whom have been jailed over the past six decades.

In a report titled "Sentenced to Life," Amnesty said the stigma attached to conscientious objectors meant many faced economic and social disadvantages that lasted far beyond the typical 18-month jail term.

"For the South Korean government to condemn innocent young men as criminals is a scandal and a violation of their rights," said Hiroka Shoji, the rights monitor's East Asia Researcher.

"The jailing of conscientious objectors does not make South Korea any safer, it only serves to stigmatise and crush the aspirations of young men who had bright futures," Shoji said.

The main rationale for military service is the threat posed by North Korea, given that the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas technically still at war.

For many the policy of conscription is an unwanted and deeply resented intrusion that interferes with studies or nascent careers and serves no discernible purpose, especially in a rapidly ageing society where the size of the workforce is dwindling by the year.

The vast majority, however unwillingly, buckle down, knowing that refusal means a criminal record that precludes any future job with the government or a major corporation.

But the Jehovah's witnesses and a few others opt for jail, citing their moral opposition to bearing arms.

Alternative service

Amnesty - while not calling for an end to conscription - said the government should provide options.

"The government is failing these young men, their families and society. There are genuine alternatives to military service that the authorities can and must provide," said Shoji.

"These men are prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released."

The South Korean armed forces rely heavily on the military service system, with draftees accounting for the lion's share of its 690,000 active personnel.

Wednesday's shooting incident underlined the pressures many conscripts and reservists feel, and is just the latest in a series of similar incidents involving suicides and young men turning their guns on other members of their unit.

Military service in South Korea can involve genuine combat duty, often along the border with North Korea, which former US president Bill Clinton once described as the "scariest place on earth".

In 2007, the defence ministry announced plans to introduce alternative service for conscientious objectors by 2009.

However, following the 2008 presidential election, the government announced the plans had been put on hold indefinitely, citing a lack of public support.

For the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page!



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Kenya says will return to interna...

Kenya will return to international markets to borrow when it feels the time is right, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said on Tuesday. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Deal with corruption or lose in 2...

A Jubilee Party MP says that the unending corruption claims against the government are killing President Uhuru Kenyatta's re-election efforts for 2017. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
MP accuses Raila of making up fal...

An MP has accused CORD leader Raila Odinga of bringing up non existent corruption scandals to hurt the Jubilee government. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Leave office if you can't handle ...

Leave office if you cannot handle corruption, an MP has told President Uhuru Kenyatta. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Give me the chance to unseat Uhur...

Give me the chance to send President Uhuru Kenyatta home, Kalonzo Musyoka tells Kenyans. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Explain your foreign trips since ...

Explain your foreign trips, Musalia Mudavadi tells President Uhuru Kenyatta. Read more...