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Navy chief urged to take 'special caution' after defense ministry inspection

Navy Chief of Staff Boo Suk-jong (Yonhap)
Navy Chief of Staff Boo Suk-jong (Yonhap)

The defense ministry called Wednesday on the Navy chief to take "special caution" in conducting his duties, a measure that followed an inspection into the allegations he failed to attend an emergency meeting on a missing officer earlier this month after drinking alcohol.

But the ministry dismissed the claims that Adm. Boo Suk-jong failed to properly handle the case involving the officer, stressing he had faithfully carried out his role as the chief of naval operations at the time of the accident.

On Jan. 9, a non-commissioned Navy officer was found dead after going missing near the western border island of Baengnyeong while on guard operations the previous day. His body was found in the Yellow Sea hours later.

"When it comes to maintaining the situation and taking measures related to the missing officer, he has faithfully carried out his role as the chief of naval operations and we have confirmed that there was no correlation between his dinner and the suspicion that he failed to properly manage the situation," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry, however, noted that given that having dinner with alcoholic beverages is out of step with government guidelines to curb the new coronavirus, his deed at that time was "somewhat improper."

"Thus, the defense minister called on the chief of naval operations to take special caution," the ministry said.

During the inspection, the ministry dispatched several officials to the Navy headquarters to confirm the facts surrounding the allegations. (Yonhap)