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Probe ordered into fatal shooting of soldier

Sept 29,2017
National Defense Minister Song Young-moo ordered a thorough investigation into the death of a 20-year-old private first class in Cheorwon County, Gangwon, who was shot in the head Tuesday.

The ministry, upon receiving Song’s order Thursday, sent the case to its criminal investigation command and opened a probe at 9 a.m., vowing to “objectively and transparently” dig for details. The Army said Wednesday it appeared the bullet unintentionally strayed from a shooting range 400 meters (437 yards) away, bouncing off some kind of an object, like a tree, before coming into contact with the soldier.

The case occurred Tuesday at around 4:10 p.m., when the victim was walking back to his base with 27 others upon completing construction work for a military installation near Mount Geumhak. The group was on a tactical road close to a shooting range, where 12 other soldiers were training with K2 rifles at the time.

The victim, who was at the back of the line, was shot in the head and collapsed. He was taken to a military hospital and died on the same day at 5:22 p.m. The Army does not know yet whose gun the bullet was from. The guns have been confiscated for study.

Family members of the victim doubt the bullet bounced off an object, suggesting that one of the 12 soldiers at the shooting range might have mis-aimed their weapon.

But an official from the Defense Ministry said troop members who were at the scene testified hearing a “ticking sound, rather than actual gunfire,” adding that the area was surrounded by trees.

BY LEE CHUL-JAE, PARK JIN-HO [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]