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S. Korea defense minister sorry for conscript death

SEOUL--South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-Koo apologized Monday following the death of a bullied young army conscript, while the presidential Blue House urged a full inquiry.

“I extend my sincere apologies,” Han said in a televised statement, describing the death of the 23-year-old private as “an inhumane crime” that should not happen in a civilized society in the 21st century.

He vowed to punish anyone involved in the death and said an army division commander would be dismissed from his post and disciplined, together with other officers under his command.

Private Yoon died in April following an alleged assault by five soldiers, during which he was struck in the chest, causing a chunk of food to get lodged in his airway. He died of asphyxiation.

The five have been arrested on manslaughter charges after an initial investigation showed the private had been repeatedly bullied.

The case came on the back of two separate suicides by army privates last month, and a deadly shooting spree in June in which a sergeant killed five members of his unit for taunting him.

Investigators found Yoon had been the target of regular bullying and assaults, including sessions of crude water-boarding.

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