The army has rejected claims that such a search is occurring.

“If military personnel who served without any problem are forced to be dishonorably discharged and sent to prison due to their sexual orientation, it is hard to distinguish Korea from the worrisome countries where homosexuals are detained, tortured and executed,” said the MHRCK in a statement.

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South Korean military officials are allegedly conducting an army-wide search for gay men among the country’s troops, after a sex tape between two soldiers was uploaded online, according to an investigation by a non-profit group.

Army investigators have been trying to dox suspected homosexual soldiers through the use of dating apps, with at least one soldier arrested so far for allegedly engaging in homosexual acts, according to the Military Human Rights Center of Korea (MHRCK), an activist group.

In neighboring Taiwan (paywall), which also has compulsory military service for men, openly homosexual and bisexual people have been allowed to serve in the military since 2002.

Even as attitudes towards homosexuality in other traditionally conservative Asian countries begin to loosen up, including in Japan, acceptance of LGBT people in Korea remains relatively poor.

If left alone, this presents a serious risk of direct harm to the preservation of fighting strength.” Because of the Korean military’s outsized influence in Korean life and the belief that the country is in a near constant “pre-war state” because of the threat from North Korea, the military and conservative establishment are “afraid of excessive liberalism as it might affect the readiness of their young people to die,” said Vladimir Tikhinov, a professor of Korean studies at the University of Oslo who has studied the military in Korea.

All able-bodied men in Korea are required to serve about two years in the military, which has about 630,000 active-duty soldiers (for comparison, the US has about 1.3 million active military personnel).

“The Korean Peninsula is facing a North Korean nuclear weapons crisis.

Gays have a questionable logic in demanding the resignation of the army chief of staff to justify their sexual urges,” Han Hyo-gwan, an anti-gay activist, told local newspaper Kookmin Ilbo (link in Korean).

Jang, the army chief of staff who allegedly ordered the investigation into gay soldiers, is also the head of the Korea Military Christians Federation (link in Korean).