S. Korean soldier's killing spree 'sparked off by SpongeBob teasing'
A soldier who went on a deadly rampage last month was humiliated by fellow soldiers who mocked him and drew cartoons depicting him as SpongeBob SquarePants.
The 22-year-old South Korean sergeant, whose surname is Lim, opened fire on members of his unit at a guard post near the border with North Korea on June 21, killing five and wounding seven.
He was caught two days after he shot himself in the chest in a failed suicide attempt. This was after a 24-hour standoff with thousands of troops.
South Korean soldiers taking position during a search and arrest operation as troops standoff with a conscript soldier who shot and killed five comrades in Goseong.
Soldiers standing guard at a temporary checkpoint during the search for Lim on June 22.
Army personnel taking Lim, who is wrapped in a blanket, to hospital on June 23.
Announcing the result of a formal probe into the case, senior military investigator Seon Jong-Chul said Lim had been repeatedly mocked by both lower and higher-ranking members of his unit.
On the day of the shooting, he had been especially enraged by cartoons drawn on the back pages of the unit’s daily border patrol logs, depicting Lim as a series of goofy, immature cartoon characters, including
“Other troops saw it as a small joke, but (Lim) said he had been greatly distressed by it,” Mr Seon said, adding that the cartoons had “triggered a flashback” to when Lim was bullied in high school.
Although other soldiers in the unit were also caricatured in the log book, Lim took the cartoons depicting him as a personal attack.
Lim was a conscript who joined the army in 2012. He was three months away from being discharged.
He had difficulty adapting to the army and psychological evaluations had advised senior officials to pay special attention to him.
South Korean soldiers taking part in the search for Lim on June 23.
Before shooting himself, Lim had written a brief note reflecting feelings of persecution and inadequacy.
"Anybody would have felt that life was more painful and difficult than death if they were in my shoes," he wrote.
"Like little children who kill insects without feeling guilty... they do not know how much pain they can give to someone."
Lim was arrested on multiple charges including murder, attempted murder, and stealing military equipment.
Grieving relatives at the group memorial altar of the five soldier killed by Lim.
Six surviving members of Lim’s unit who had took part in the bullying will face disciplinary punishment.
Last week, Lim himself filed a lawsuit against a senior officer in his unit for insulting behaviour.