A watchdog group that tracks cases of abuse inside the South Korean military says the army brass is carrying out a nationwide crackdown to identify and root out homosexual service members.
Earlier this year, a video surfaced online of two male soldiers having sex. Military officials say they responded with a proper investigation into the incident.
But Lim Tae-hoon, the head of a group called the Military Human Rights Center for Korea, says it’s a witch hunt that violates the army’s own regulations. Lim says military investigators have combed through phone records, collected data from a gay dating app and pressured suspected gays-in-uniform to out their fellow soldiers.
"Military investigators used the information they gained from the investigation on the sex video to track down other gay soldiers in the army, starting by forcing the suspects to identify who they had sex with and then widening their search from there," Lim told The Associated Press.
"The soldiers who are being investigated had sex with their partners under mutual consent and not inside the barracks," Lim said. "The army has infringed on the realms of privacy and is falsely claiming that these soldiers committed wrongdoings."
Most “able-bodied” men in South Korea fulfill a two-year mandatory stint in the army. There is no law against gays serving. But there is a regulation banning homosexual intercourse for members of the military.
Same-sex marriage is not permitted in South Korea, but gay sex is not illegal for civilians.