The U.S. military on Friday issued a peninsula-wide curfew for all U.S. troops in South Korea, one day after South Korean authorities took custody of a U.S. soldier accused of raping an 18-year-old Korean woman.
The off-installation curfew is in effect from midnight until 5 a.m. on Monday through Friday and 3-5 a.m. on Saturday, Sunday and U.S.-observed holidays, according to a U.S. Forces Korea release.
In the release, Gen. James D. Thurman made no mention of the high-profile rape case that has sparked a public outcry, but he said curfew will extend for the next 30 days. The curfew applies to all U.S. servicemembers while in Korea, except for military personnel attached to the U.S. Embassy. Military family members, DOD civilians and contractors and also are being encouraged to observe the curfew, according to the news release.
“The overwhelming majority of our personnel make the right choices and conduct themselves in a professional and courteous manner, while enjoying all that the Republic of Korea has to offer,” said Thurman, who commands U.S. troops in South Korea. “Given the incidents that have occurred over the last several months, I’m reinstating the curfew to assess current conditions, mission requirements, and potential force protection concerns.”
In addition to the curfew, Eighth Army leaders directed a training stand-down “to remind all soldiers that they represent the United States here and to remind them that Army Values are non-negotiable – 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” the release said.
The release also stated that the Eighth Army had established a Sexual Assault Prevention Task Force in May to address the underlying causes of sexual assaults.
On Wednesday, the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division announced that a Camp Casey soldier accused of the Sept. 24 rape of an 18-year-old South Korean woman would be handed over to South Korean custody in connection with the allegations.
The soldier, a private first class whose name has not been released, is accused of entering the woman’s small dormitory-style home and raping her, according to Park Sang Yung, chief of the Dongducheon Police Station.
According to Dongducheon police, the 21-year-old soldier also used scissors and a knife in the attack. The soldier has confessed to the rape and said he was drunk at the time, the official said.
The case has provoked public outrage in South Korea, where curfews have been instituted before after high-profile misdeeds by U.S. troops.
The command lifted a previous curfew in July 2010, which had been in place for nine years.
It’s the second high-profile criminal case this year involving a 2ID soldier. In April, Pvt. Lloyd Daniel, of the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, was sentenced to seven years in a South Korean prison for breaking into a home and assaulting an elderly Korean couple in February.
Thurman made the decision to reinstate the curfew after careful consultation with service component commanders and ROK leaders, according to the press release.
“Personal discipline and accountability are essential elements of my top priorities and contribute directly to mission readiness and the strengthening of the Alliance,” Thurman said in the news release.
U.S. law enforcement personnel in Korea will work with their local Korean counterparts for assistance with curfew monitoring and enforcement, the release stated.