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Lee Seong-yong offered to step down a day after an air force master sergeant was arrested on charges of molesting and injuring a female colleague of the same rank in March.
The family of the victim said she had suffered mental distress and persistent bullying, and accused the air force of trying to cover up the assault and silence her during the past two months. More thanpeople have ed it so far. The case also weighs heavily on Moon, whose public approval rating has been steadily declining, and whose party suffered crushing electoral defeats in two major cities before the presidential election next year. A series of incidents has prompted the military to tighten rules and penalties for sexual abuse, but activists say the military is still too soft on members accused of wrongdoing.
All able-bodied male citizens have to serve for nearly two years but women can volunteer for the military. In March, a transgender South Korean soldierwho was forcibly discharged from the army after gender-reasment surgery, took her own life, prompting another public outcry. Army recruits have been subjected to physical and sexual abuse by their colleagues, leading to deaths.
President Moon and his party should see the of the Seoul and Busan mayoral by-elections as a warning. Torture in S Korean military sparks reforms. S Korea passes law allowing BTS stars to defer military service.
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