Internet lets Korean parents see sons are safe

Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:03am EDT
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By Ju-min Park

SEOUL (Reuters) - Oh Ju-ri, the mother of two sons doing their compulsory South Korean military service, naturally worries about their health and safety -- but especially now.

Bullying, suspicious suicides and shooting incidents in the military have left many parents fretting over the fate of their conscripted sons, and they are now turning to a new Internet service to keep tabs on them.

In July, telecoms company LG Uplus launched an internet-based free TV channel that lets recruits at army boot camps broadcast live, a service that the 50-year-old mother of two conscripts wants to use to check on her sons.

Oh also meets other mothers online so they can share news, concerns and a snapshot at the boot camp on the Web - glimpses that might answer a mother's questions: Is he eating OK? Is he losing weight? Does he look happy?

"I can share everything from joy, sorrow to happiness on the web and all mothers and fathers who never met each other can be connected," Oh said.

"More importantly, we, online, can find out if our sons are okay."

South Korean law requires all young men to serve around two years of military duty as the Korean peninsula is technically still at war.

But last month's shooting spree at a Marine Corps base that left four dead, and mysterious suicide incidents, have sparked debate over military reforms, as well as parents' interest in -- and worry about -- the fate of their sons.   Continued...