South Korean Marine Corps commander summoned by CIO in influence-peddling probe

The Marine Corps’ top leader, Lt. Gen. Kim Kye-hwan, was summoned by the anti-corruption agency amid suspicions of influencing the inquiry into Marine Chae Su-geun’s death during a flood rescue operation.

The anti-corruption agency summoned the top leader of South Korea’s Marine Corps on Saturday as part of an investigation into allegations of influence peddling related to the death of a Marine last year, according to officials.

Lt. Gen. Kim Kye-hwan, Commandant of the Marine Corps, appeared in the morning at the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials in Gwacheon, near Seoul. He chose not to respond to questions from reporters.

Authorities suspect Kim’s involvement in improperly influencing the military prosecution’s inquiry into the case of Marine Chae Su-geun, who died during a search and rescue operation for civilian flood victims following heavy rains last summer. The investigation aims to determine if undue pressure was exerted in handling Chae’s case.

Colonel Park Jung-hun, the former chief investigator of the Marines, faced indictment in October on charges of insubordination and defamation of his superior. This came after he passed on the investigation findings concerning Chae’s death to civilian police, despite then Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup’s directive for the Marine Corps’ top commander to retain the information for further legal review.

Park, leading the initial inquiry into the case, alleged that Kim had instructed to downsize the investigation, citing purported requests from the Presidential Office.