Fugitive Korean Soldier Captured After Suicide Attempt

Article from Yonhap News:

Sergeant Im attempts suicide…Pursuit ended after 43 hours

Sergeant Im, who deserted after his shooting spree at his general outpost (GOP) in Goseong, Gangwon-do, was captured alive on the afternoon of the 23rd after he attempted to commit suicide. Both the military and his family members had been persistently contacting Im and asking him to surrender. Im’s flight began on the 21st, when he killed five and injured seven members of his unit with a grenade and about ten bullets, and ran away with weapons. In total, he was a fugitive for 43 hours.


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Comments from Naver:

Reveal everything that needs to be revealed. He still has to pay for his murder.


Even if there were abuses in the barracks, did he really have to go this far… Both Sergeant Im and the dead soldiers are worthy of our pity..


Without omission, reveal what he wrote in that memo to the public.


The situation ended! Start firing the responsible people at the Ministry of Defense, ke.


There are so many things to do when you are young. Why did he have to give up everything?! What a fool!!! This is not something any young person should be tempted to do…


Journalists in our country should be put on a leash because many of them are crazy. Why did they visit his family’s neighborhood and let them all know?? Aren’t they crazy for real? Those journalists who cross the line these days should get their act together.


Even if what he wrote in the memo might be controversial, the military should not manipulate it. You cannot block the sky with your palm.


So he cried…. He eventually got back to his senses… How painful it must have been to commit such acts when his rank was already sergeant…Such a pitiful murder.


He couldn’t endure the last three months until he got discharged. Now he will be isolated from society for a lifetime.


The investigation team should not hide anything and reveal everything as it is… If they hide something, an incident like this can happen again..

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  • bang2tang
    • Chucky3176

      The BBC article is old and outdated and somewhat misinformed. The ROK military went on a revision and eliminated hazings. That rarely happens anymore. This soldier who went hey wire was an incompetent soldier with mental problems who refuses to explain why he did it. He was once marked as a possible violent soldier with mental problems who needed special attention and needed careful watching by other soldiers, and was given no bullets for his rifle. But later he was deemed better, and reassigned as normally. In his diary, there was one passage he wrote that a small stone flung, could kill a frog – hinting that the frog is him. There could have been some ostracizing by the members of the same unit because of his incompetence which could have lead to the soldier’s ill feelings toward others.

      The question is why Korean military conscripts mentally ill soldiers. Well because South Korea’s birth rate is so low (the lowest in the world), to keep the 650,000 man military going, they need every male they can get. The Korean government also don’t want to open up a door where conscripts use the mental illness excuse to get out of the required military duty.

      • bang2tang

        Really? I thought “Real Men” just make punishment looks less harsh (without beating) for camera, since it’s sunday night reality show.

        • Black_Plague

          Physical punishments and hazing has been illegal in the ROK military for decades – the problem is that the culture of such from higher ranking troops using violence on their juniors has been rooted in a bit too deeply. Similar to how Korean schools technically don’t allow bullying and violence but fail to enforce it adequately when it occurs (and I speak of this from personal experience too).

          The culture itself comes from the Japanese military in WW2, and a number of Korea’s troops prior to the Korean War had served under the Japanese, both as officers and enlisted (whether as volunteers or conscripts) – they proceeded to utilize just that after the war, and it passed down to the next wave of new troops.

          Still, the number of troops committing suicide due to hazing, harassment or mental breakdowns had steadily gone down over the decades, with more attention paid to it from the 1970s and beyond. The number of deaths from suicide and assault/violence in earlier decades was much, much higher – from 1980 to 1988 alone, over 2,200 troops committed suicide while another 400+ were killed from assaults from either their superiors or fellow comrades.

          It’s nowhere near as bad as it was before, and is being given more focus, though it takes time to trickle down effectively. Even if it is reduced to near nil, there’ll still always be at least a few assholes who’ll abuse their rank one way or another and another lot that will be less-than-ideal for military service who’ll wind up snapping.

      • Karl Yang

        Maybe you should sign up for the military?

  • K-Pop…is a gateway drug…for homicidal maniacs

  • RegisterToPost

    Why are conscripts manning the border?

    Actually, why are there conscripts at all? Do the Koreans really think they’ll defend the country in an invasion?

    • Black_Plague

      You seem to underestimate conscript-manned armies.

      The ROK forces took the brunt of the fighting in the Korean War (seeing how they lost far more troops than their allies), and conscripts again formed the vast majority of the 9th Infantry Division, Capital Mechanized Infantry Division and 2nd Marine Brigade’s forces during their deployment in Vietnam (over 300,000 served there).

      Records go to show that ROK forces performed superbly against the NVA and VC. Provided with the adequate leadership, motivation/morale, logistics and other forms of support, weaponry, tactics & strategy etc., conscript armies can perform quite well on their own right. The Wehrmacht’s strength was also made up largely of conscripts, yet they were able to conquer a giant portion of Europe and hold their own against the US, Soviet Union, Britain and the Commonwealth for several years.

      A more recent case to look at is the Syrian Arab Army, which is also heavily made up of conscripts – while it suffered from a series of defections early on, with Iranian and Russian assistance (trainers, advisers, material support etc) and the threat of genocide and Sharia Law (for those who are Alawites, Christians and Druzes), it was still able to adapt and steadily turn the tide against the Islamist-dominated rebellion while also being aided by the relatively newly-formed all-volunteer National Defense Force, of which a significant number of its personnel are made up of men who lost their loved ones or feel threatened by what life under a rebel victory would be like – especially if they’re from minority ethnic groups.

      Make no mistake, if the North Koreans invade the country, you’re bound to find that a lot of ROK troops will be aware that their families are going to be caught in the crossfire (particularly for those from Gyeonggi and Gangwon Province) and quickly realize they have little to lose. Even more so once they realize if hear of such casualties and when ROK-US forces move into counter-attack.

      • Ruaraidh

        For a study of conscripts vs professional soldiers see the Falklands war. The Argentine forces held strong defensive positions, used the same rifles as the British and had a numerical advantage, but much of their force was made of conscripts, and when push came to shove, was quickly rolled over by the British Army.

        • Paulistano

          I think you comparision is quite unfair. Argentina had no chance to win the war. You said conscripts vs professional soldiers, but the main factor here is not the soldiers, but equipment, British Navy had one of the best equipments of the world at time, superior aircraft, superior armament, elite units (SAS), superior military doctrine (experience from WW2) and they even sent an super aircraft (symbol of power). British should massacre Argentina in days or it was what British expected in that time, but that didn’t happen. Argentina defended very well and they even sunk a british destroyer which surprised the entire world (that forced the world to rethink, rebuild and re-design vessels).

          You said that Argentina was numerical superior, but you forgot one thing, argentinian soldiers lacked supplies while British Navy was very well supplied until the enemy broke the line. Supply is everthing, more than numbers, that one of the reasons why germans lost to russian in Operation Barbarossa. The results of the war was very mediocre for the British forces, again, losing it was not an option for them.

          • Ruaraidh

            British supply lines were stretched to breaking point, they had to land in isolated harbours and advance across rugged and inhospitable terrain, littered with minefields whilst the Argentinians were heavily dug in in strong positions. It was at the point where the British forces were dismantling abandoned whaling stations for salvage.

            In the air Britain could support only 42 aircraft from their carriers, whilst Argentina was operating 122 attack aircraft from unsinkable airfields on the South American mainland and the Falklands themselves.

            Ultimately though my original point stands, the main opposition to the British was distance and terrain, whilst the mostly conscript based Argentine land forces, though similarly equipped, simply couldn’t stand up against a smaller but more elite professional army.

          • Black_Plague

            My argument wasn’t about conscript-based armies vs professional armies, but on the potential the former when the situation arises. You’d have a point if one of the two Koreas had a fully professional army, but neither of them are (although it would seem SK on its part is slowly moving away from it, given it plans to cut the Army’s strength of 500,000+ by 100,000 while increasing firepower).

            Which in any case, doesn’t apply to any potential conflict between South and North Korea’s forces – and unlike the Falklands War, such a scenario would be that of a ‘total war’. Already both sides have millions of reservists ready to be activated ASAP for such scenarios and it isn’t unlikely for them to ‘nationalize’ airliners, commercial ships and other forms transport for the war effort.

          • Ruaraidh

            My point is exactly that South Korea should have a fully professional army. Conscript forces haven’t cut the mustard for a long time, and with technology continuing they never will again.

          • Black_Plague

            Realistically, it cannot however. South Korea, unlike the UK (and the West in general) faces a potential total-war threat that can very well happen if shit hits the fan. Last time I checked, Britain doesn’t face any risk of being invaded by anyone in Europe, and the same goes for France, Germany, Italy etc + have entirely different strategic and tactical needs and objectives to that of the ROK.

            If Korea were to have a fully professional army, the number of troops and equipment (tanks, IFVs, artillery etc) would be reduced drastically up to the point that even in spite of all the technological advantage held against the North, would not be able to hold out against a sustained attack itself for long. The ratio between defender and attacker would be ridiculously enormous.

            Even if it did, in the scenario that North Korea collapses, the ROK military would be overstretched between handling counter-insurgency, security, banditry reconstruction etc.

            As I have said, a potential conflict between the South and North can very well lead to a ‘total war’, where every resource (including every fit male) available will be diverted to the war effort and the post-war phase regardless. Better to have the male population trained and ready for that at least somewhat than not entirely where more chaos will play in.

            Just because the British forces gave the Argentinian forces a major pasting at the Falklands War doesn’t mean that it will be the exact same in an entirely different war.

            If there are countries that have little real need of conscription related to national security, then Russia, Singapore, Iran, Egypt, Thailand, Austria and Norway would be my pick – among those mentioned, some also utilize quite sophisticated gear, especially Russia (adding on it also has combat experience from the Second Chechen War where it took far lesser losses than the insurgents).

          • Ruaraidh

            There will never be a proper total war between the Koreas now. If the North restarts the war it can’t count on Chinese intervention any longer and without it it’ll be crushed. It’s actually more like a hostage situation where the North could easily be destroyed, but it would take the city of Seoul with it.

            Like any hostage taker, the North has to make us think it’s constantly on the brink of destroying Seoul, but it can’t be so crazy as to push us to the point at which we be think the best chance to save the hostage is to preemptively strike. Nor can it actually ever go further than roughing the South up a bit to show it’s serious; because if Seoul is toast, so is Pyongyang.

            If you bear the above in mind, as well as the need to constantly impress a siege mentality to the domestic audience, North Korea’s seemingly irrational international behaviour starts to seem a lot more logical.

          • Black_Plague

            Just because the chances of an all-out war isn’t unlikely doesn’t mean it should be necessarily ruled out of the picture. The fact that North Korea cannot win or sustain a war of attrition and China not intervening on its behalf, I think pretty much anyone following military-related news is very well of that.

            Yet, as I have mentioned above – it’s not that scenario that South Korea should be worried about. The post-war phase where the North Korean regime ceases to exist with God-knows-how-many refugees combined with pro-regime loyalists engaging in guerrilla warfare and terrorism, disarming what’s left of the KPA, warlords fighting one another with highly possible dramatic rise of organized crime, banditry etc. requires a massive need of troops to counter it. Even more pressing would be the dire priority to secure the NBC storages before they wind up in the wrong hands.

            Even if a war doesn’t break out, that kind of scenario could very well happen if there was a major rebellion in the DPRK that succeeds in breaking Kim’s regime, only to degenerate into factionalism.

            You certainly cannot expect a fully-professional force of roughly 100-250 thousand to contain all that without being badly overstretched. To even make it fully-professional, the ROK also would have to put a lot of money and effort in making military service much more appealing to the public compared to civilian jobs as well as also provide more benefits and increased pay while also maintaining a relatively large size (both active and reserve) – and that alone too, will take quite a bit of time to put in effect.

            That would also mean they’d have to increase their military budget considerably – currently it’s at 12th place spending nearly $35 billion in 2013, a bit behind to those like the UK, France, Germany, United States and Russia. Heck, even Japan spends more than that – one thing they all have in common is that they also have a far stronger economy than the ROK does.

  • kekeke

    Im surprised this kind of thing don’t happen more often. its so typical of koreas to blame the individual when something happens because they are all think they live in a perfect land of harmoney and that everyone should be happy. This is just a normal reaction to a highly repressive and comformist culture. There is only so much someone can take before snapping.

  • Karl Yang

    Korean people seem to really fucked in the head. They kill themselves over pitiful shit, shooting rampage in american schools, killing fellow soldiers, apathy towards safety. really fucked up people who only care about kimchi and gangnam style.

    • Chucky3176

      lol, did you sign up for a new account, just to comment on this, Rutim?

    • Paulistano

      Admins and moderators should really moderate troll posts here.

  • Insomnicide

    The question is why? Why did he go on a rampage?

  • Science Patrol

    Psych tests should be mandatory for occupations involving firearms.

  • YourSupremeCommander

    Damn, it took the whole entire fricking army to catch one guy. And the one guy is not even named Rambo.

    Bravo Korea military, bravo.

  • commander

    I served as a platoon leader in Goseong, Gangwon Province where the deadly shooting rampage occured. The soldier who threw a hand grenade that exploded and opened fire at his fellow soldiers was doing his military service at the Myungpa area, which is infamous for uphill geographical features requiring great stamina for vigilance and patrolling duties on a daily basis.

    As just performing given duties is a physical challenge for draftees, ensuring comfortable military life in barracks of a platoon-level unit is indispensable for effective vigilance operations without safety incidents.

    To that end, securing harmonious relations between senior and junior soldiers are a prerequisite, a condition which the media reports aren’t fulfilled at the unit he served in.

    But the exact cause of the shooting spree will be revealed after a thorough investigation, though some media reports question the transparency of the ongoing probe because the military is reluctant to disclose a suicide note the soldier left before he tried to take his life with his rifle. The note is believed to contain the reasons why Sergeant Lim, with three months away before his ETS date, went on the shooting rampage.

    The reason for the military’s existence is to defend the nation and its people against outside foe’s attacks. But sadly in reality, some of the youth who are called up for the sublime cause of national defense get killed in an incident that could be sufficiently preventable.

    This news is profoundly sad.

  • Paulistano

    Koreabang, translate the pictures, please, three pictures represents almost half of the entire article.

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