SEOUL - The Defence Ministry plans to install more surveillance cameras to curb human rights abuses, allow conscripts to acquire academic credit through their military activities and distribute mobile phones to be shared by enlisted troops.
Defence Minister Han Min-koo on Thursday reported these measures to a parliamentary panel on reforming the rigid, outmoded culture that has been blamed for desertions, deaths by beating, suicides and even a shooting spree last year.
The ministry adopted 15 of the total 22 recommendations made by a separate panel on the military's cultural reform in December. The rest of the recommendations will be revised or improved, the ministry said.
As for academic credit, the ministry seeks to allow draftees to acquire it after completing three weeks of military training. It also plans to establish a system under which conscripts can acquire 18 credits ― enough to complete one university semester.
"Currently, 110 universities recognise these military credits, and other universities including Seoul National University have also expressed their willingness to recognise the credits," said Minister Han.
To reduce abuses among draftees in hard-to-monitor military installations, the ministry seeks to install more surveillance cameras, which it believes will help prevent and promptly detect abuse cases.
To address the increase in the sex crime rate in the military, the ministry plans to apply a toughened rule to prosecute any soldier charged with sex crimes, and detain those suspected of a serious sex crime during an investigation process.
By next year, the military also plans to offer mobile phones to all units to be shared by the enlisted troops so that they can better communicate with their families, particularly parents.
As for its consideration of offering some extra points in the recruitment exams after soldiers' discharge, the ministry plans to further develop the plan as it is still difficult to determine who will receive the extra points. The ministry previously said the extra points will be given those who "perform conscientiously."
Meanwhile, the Army is reportedly moving to draft a code of conduct to strengthen discipline against sexual misconduct. The move comes after a series of sex crime cases including a recent one in which a brigade commander sexually assaulted a young female noncommissioned officer.
Under the code, a soldier is reportedly barred from entering the military residence of another of the opposite sex, and physical contact between male and female soldiers is strictly limited to shaking hands.