One of the world’s largest armies is allegedly using dating apps to out gay soldiers

Apr 21, 2017, 01:00 PM

South Korean military officials are allegedly conducting an army-wide search for gay men among the country’s troops, after a sex tape between two soldiers was uploaded online, according to an investigation by a non-profit group. Army investigators have been trying to dox suspected homosexual soldiers through the use of dating apps, with at least one soldier arrested so far for allegedly engaging in homosexual acts, according to the Military Human Rights Center of Korea (MHRCK), an activist group. The allegations draw attention to Korea’s conservative attitudes towards homosexuality, particularly in the military, which is one of the country’s most powerful institutions. It’s a crime for Korean soldiers to engage in consensual homosexual acts, but that’s not true of same-sex relations; outside the army, same-sex relations are legal but not widely accepted. On Monday (April 17), the center released screenshots of in-app conversations dated Feb. 15 showing a discussion between two soldiers about exchanging photos and which military units they serve in. MHRCK alleges that prosecutors coerced a soldier, already under investigation, into approaching another officer on an app widely used by gay and bisexual men in order to extract information about the officer’s name, rank and military unit. MHRCK also unveiled a leaked guideline from the High Army Prosecutors’ Office dated March 23 that urges “strict handling of same-sex sex acts to prevent a proliferation of soldier-on-soldier sodomy.”

South Korean military officials are allegedly conducting an army-wide search for gay men among the country’s troops, after a sex tape between two soldiers was uploaded online, according to an investigation by a non-profit group. Army investigators have been trying to dox suspected homosexual soldiers through the use of dating apps, with at least one soldier arrested so far for allegedly engaging in homosexual acts, according to the Military Human Rights Center of Korea (MHRCK), an activist group. The allegations draw attention to Korea’s conservative attitudes towards homosexuality, particularly in the military, which is one of the country’s most powerful institutions. It’s a crime for Korean soldiers to engage in consensual homosexual acts, but that’s not true of same-sex relations; outside the army, same-sex relations are legal but not widely accepted. On Monday (April 17), the center released screenshots of in-app conversations dated Feb. 15 showing a discussion between two soldiers about exchanging photos and which military units they serve in. MHRCK alleges that prosecutors coerced a soldier, already under investigation, into approaching another officer on an app widely used by gay and bisexual men in order to extract information about the officer’s name, rank and military unit. MHRCK also unveiled a leaked guideline from the High Army Prosecutors’ Office dated March 23 that urges “strict handling of same-sex sex acts to prevent a proliferation of soldier-on-soldier sodomy.”

All able-bodied men in Korea are required to serve about two years in the military, which has about 630,000 active-duty soldiers (for comparison, the US has about 1.3 million active military personnel). The Korean army said Friday in a statement that its prosecutors launched an investigation after a video clip of two men in uniform having sex surfaced online, and that it wasn’t ordered to do so by the army commander. The army “strives to ensure that the human rights of gay men in service aren’t violated, and forbids involuntary outing and discrimination as well as guaranteeing privacy according to the law.” A defense ministry spokesman said it couldn’t comment on ongoing investigations. Domestic and foreign human rights groups have criticized human rights violations by Korea’s military in the past. Physical abuse and bullying of soldiers is rife, for example, and public outcry (paywall) against such violations have become more vocal since the particularly gruesome deat...