Korean General Accused Of Trapping Gay Soldiers With Fake Dating Profiles

General Jang Jun-kyu is facing pressure to resign over his "track-down process" of LGBT personnel.

South Korea’s army chief is being pressured to step down amid allegations that he ordered a nationwide probe to root out and prosecute gay soldiers.

SEONGNAM, SOUTH KOREA - OCTOBER 01:  South Korean army soldiers march during the 65th South Korea Armed Forces Day ceremony at Seongnam Military Airbase on October 1, 2013 in Seongnam, South Korea. More than 11 thousand troops participated in this year's ceremony while about 300 of the latest air and ground military equipment were showcased. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

According to the group Military Human Rights Center for Korea, army chief of staff General Jang Jun-kyu launched a “track-down process” that pinpointed 50 soldiers, 20 of whom are now facing charges under the military’s anti-homosexuality laws.

“Gen Jang is obviously incapable of leading the army,” MHRCK said in a statement.

“He treated his men who did their best to protect their homeland as if they were culprits and made them suffer the most horrible fear — losing personal dignity. He must take responsibility… and resign immediately.”

The army denied Gen. Jang had ordered a probe, but did acknowledge that “we are punishing soldiers on service who have homosexual relations with soldiers,” adding that same-sex sexual activity was considered a “sexual harassment crime.”

These remarks are in line with the conservative nature of the country which, despite rapid economic development, has lagged behind on social issues.

The report from MHRCK claims that investigators heaped psychological pressure on the soldiers by threatening to out them to friends and family. The team also uncovered LGBT personnel by creating fake profiles on gay dating apps.

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - JUNE 06:  South Korean soldiers wear masks during a ceremony marking Korean Memorial Day at the National Cemetery on June 6, 2015 in Seoul, South Korea. Four deaths from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) have been confirmed on June 5, 2015, and the number of confirmed local patients have risen to fifty as of June 6, 2015.  (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Same-sex sexual activity is legal in South Korea, but same-sex marriage is still forbidden. The topic is so taboo that it’s rare to see gay couples in public, with only 18 percent of Koreans viewing homosexuality as acceptable.

“This [probe] is an obvious violation of human rights,” Kim Jiyoon of the Asan Institute in Seoul told the Financial Times. “But there is not going to be much public support [for these soldiers]. Korea is not ready for these issues. In the US, LGBT rights have escalated to become political issues. In Korea, it is not politicized yet.”

“The South Korean army imported its military law from western countries, but those countries have since abolished the laws because they are no longer acceptable. Korea still maintains these outdated laws,” added Han Ga-ram, a human rights lawyer in Seoul.

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