But it is unclear whether the military will agree to expanded oversight, as it has been reluctant to accept such changes since 2014, when the initial debate on an outside commissioner first took place. The military believes an outside commissioner would interfere with discipline on the inside.
“Whether the military would agree to put the changes in place is in doubt. The military is not ready to implement any change at all, given how everything went with revamping the military justice system,” said Lim Tae-hoon, head of the Center for Military Human Rights Korea.
He was referring to the latest legal reform, which limits military courts to handling first trials only. The military, under pressure to shut down its courts entirely, persuaded lawmakers to water down a bill that would have made that possible.
“What I don’t get is why we have service members on the panel when it was supposed to bring changes to their workplace,” said Shin Jong-woo, a senior analyst at the Korea Defense and Security Forum. The reform was a job half done, Shin said, adding the military still had a long way to go.