Demobilized from the Army for surgery: South Korea's first transgender female soldier has died

Demobilized from the Army for surgery: South Korea’s first transgender female soldier has died

He was discharged from the army for surgery
The first female transgender soldier died in South Korea

Her case caused a sensation in South Korea: Byeon Hee-soo volunteered for military service and underwent a gender reassignment. The army classified the loss of her genitals as a disability and released her in 2020. She is now found dead in her apartment.

The first transgender female soldier in the South Korean Armed Forces was found dead a year after she was discharged from the military for changing her gender. South Korean newspapers and radio reported that the body of 23-year-old Byun Hee Soo was found in her apartment in Cheongju on Wednesday after a psychiatric clinic called the police. No information was received on the cause of death. Cheongju is located about 150 kilometers south of the capital, Seoul.


when Transgender people are people who do not accept the gender role assigned to them based on their biological gender. Transgender is also used as a generic term that includes, for example, people who do not identify the gender of the man nor the gender of the woman. The word “trans” comes from Latin, meaning something like “over” or “otherworldly,” and the term “sex” refers to (social) sex.

She added that the clinic where she was being treated in Pune has been trying in vain to contact her since last Sunday. According to KBS, the facility was concerned that Pune might commit suicide. Accordingly, the trans woman had tried this before.

Classification as “a person with a disability”

Pune filed a lawsuit against her dismissal from the military. The procedure should start in the next month. The Korea Herald newspaper writes that their goal is to change their designation as a “person with a disability” by a military medical team. Pune’s lawyer was quoted as saying that his client was a “fully qualified soldier”.

The case attracted a great deal of attention in South Korea. The state bans transgender people from serving in the military, but there are no specific rules for dealing with anyone who undergoes a sex reassignment surgery while serving in the military.

The soldier underwent surgery in November 2019 while on vacation in Thailand. However, she wanted to stay with the armed forces. In January 2020, she was forced to leave the service against her will. The examination board had concluded that the operation was a cause for layoff.

The Ministry of Defense offered its condolences on the death of Pune. A spokesman for the ministry was quoted in the “Korea Herald” as saying that so far there has been no discussion in the armed forces about changing the rules for transgender people who want to serve.

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