Top S. Korean military officials face golf probe amid soaring tensions with N. Korea

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea is probing reports that top military officials played golf last weekend instead of tending to surging tensions with North Korea, a presidential spokesman said Monday.

Various newspapers reported that a military golf course in Seoul was crowded with senior army officers, including ranking generals, on Saturday and Sunday.

South Korea is currently bracing for a possible military provocation from North Korea, which has announced it is scrapping the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, as well as separate peace pacts signed with Seoul.

"The office of the senior civil affairs secretary has immediately launched an inquiry to determine what has exactly happened regarding the reports about military golf," presidential spokesman Yoon Chang Jung told reporters.

The defence ministry confirmed some generals had played golf at the weekend, but stressed they did not include commanders in sensitive positions.

Golf is enormously popular in South Korea - both as a sport and a networking opportunity.

In 2006 then prime minister Lee Hae Chan stepped down after a golf outing with businessmen sparked a criminal investigation into alleged influence-peddling.

In 2007, the air force chief resigned after playing golf while the country was mourning the death of a Korean soldier in Afghanistan, and in 2009 the defence ministry sacked the military's chief medical officer and court-martialled 50 military doctors for playing while on duty.

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