Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- The South Korean military announced a reform measure Tuesday to counter bullying among soldiers in the face of a shooting spree that resulted in the death of four Marines earlier this month, according to the country's Defense Ministry.
The new rule will go into effect this week and aims at removing the rigid hierarchy among fellow soldiers based on seniority in service which can commonly lead to group bullying, a culture that an investigation team determined as the cause of the recent shooting rampage.
The change comes after a July 4 shooting spree that left four Marines dead on Ganghwa Island, west of Seoul.
Soldiers will potentially face legal punishment if found to be involved in bullying, beating or other coercive acts and will report only to their immediate squad commander rather than fall under all senior soldiers, according to the ministry.
The suspect, a corporal, was severely injured during the shooting spree and is in custody.
The country's military has seen a series of suicides over the past years, many which are believed to have connections to bullying or abuse within the barracks. South Korean men are required to fulfill two years of mandatory military service.
The military vowed to enforce these new rules as a means to win over the trust of the South Korean public after taking a blow from the Marine shooting.