Border death soldier hooked on Web

(Adds details on incident)
By Kim Yeon-hee and Kim Yoo-chul
SEOUL, June 23 (Reuters) - A South Korean conscript accused of killing eight soldiers near the border with North Korea was so engrossed in online war games he could not distinguish between fantasy and reality, the Defence Ministry said on Thursday.
In a detailed report on Sunday’s incident in which a soldier tossed a grenade among barrack comrades and then opened fire, the ministry said the private – officially identified only as “Kim” – had planned the crime for at least a week because of bullying.
“He was so hooked on online war games he could master most of them,” said a ministry statement. “He was daydreaming so much he couldn’t tell the real world from the imaginary world.”
Some of those who survived the early-hours assault said on television and in the statement they thought North Korean troops were attacking through the fortified Demilitarised Zone border the South Korean troops were guarding.
“When I heard the shooting, I thought war had broken out,” said one sergeant on television.
The Demilitarised Zone is one of the world’s most sensitive military regions; a tense border dividing 1.1 million North Korean troops from 690,000 South Korean troops – many of them conscripts. Some 30,000 U.S. forces are also based in the South.
Seven corporals and one first lieutenant died on Sunday, the worst such incident in the army in 20 years, according to the ministry. Four other soldiers were wounded.
The ministry said the investigation and questioning had shown the soldier had used a corporal’s weapon and then picked up his own rifle and returned to his guardpost. Two of those shot were not in the sleeping quarters.
The incident has prompted much debate among South Koreans about conditions in military service for a new generation that has never experienced war or privation.
The accused soldier, who had been on guard duty at the frontier, faces a possible court martial for murder. He confessed soon after the incident and was arrested, Thursday’s 18-page statement said. It said 44 shots had been fired.
Defence Minister Yoon Kwang-ung offered to resign on Wednesday over the killings, but President Roh Moo-hyun has not decided yet whether to accept the resignation.
The accused soldier re-enacted the incident at the scene for investigators on Wednesday. Relatives of the dead also watched.
The soldier – described in the statement as a loner and introvert – was assigned to the border in January after basic training. South Korean men are generally conscripted for two years, although some serve longer. The Demilitarised Zone is one of the toughest assignments for conscripts or professional soldiers because of the constant tension and remoteness.
The statement said a corporal had chastised the soldier on May 11 with the words: “You are annoying me. Go away to another unit.”
One sergeant was quoted in the statement as saying the soldier had repeatedly said he would “do his best”.
“Therefore I did not mark him down as someone who needed to be watched,” the sergeant was quoted as saying.
((Writing by Martin Nesirky; +82 2 3704 5640; Reuters Messaging: [email protected]))
Thursday, 23 June 2005 19:54:15RTRS [nSEO189259] {C}ENDS

Sounds like he actually COULD distinguish reality and gaming, else he would´ve not tried to hide his crime and he didnt went into a suicide attack on his comrades.

The Demilitarised Zone is one of the toughest assignments for conscripts or professional soldiers because of the constant tension and remoteness.

I think people could be affected by games, but actually when something like this happens there is something wrong in the greater scheme of things with that persons mind. Sounds more like he couldnt bear the service anymore and gaming is the scapegoat. A cheap shot by the ministry.

no kidding. the guy is on one of the most stressful military outposts, bullied, but the fact that he plays online games(whatta shocking and totally unexpected hobby for a south korean) gets the most ink.

And here’s the part that would never happen in the US.

And here’s the part that would never happen in the US.

Yes, because top cabinet officials should immediately resign over one fragging incident.

Well, he offered to resign, he still might end up keeping his job. But this means that he accepts a measure of responsibility for something that happened on his watch (ie. not “the torture was committed by little people, I had nothing to do with it.”)

No, I don’t think they should. I just thought the cultural contrast was interesting. In the US, we have generally have a “CYA” mindset, so seeing a top official offer to resign over something that very obviously wasn’t his fault and which he had nothing to do with and couldn’t have prevented… it just feels sort of alien.