S. Koreans rally at Camp Humphreys fence to protest U.S. presence
1,100 students demonstrate against expansion of U.S. base
Stars and Stripes
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — About 1,100 South Korean university students held a mostly peaceful demonstration outside Camp Humphreys on Monday calling for U.S. forces to leave the country.
They also protested a U.S.-South Korea government plan that would see Camp Humphreys triple in size in coming years and become the main base for most U.S. troops in South Korea. The demonstration was one in a series the students are making this month at various locations around the peninsula.
One police officer and nine protesters were injured in a 10-minute scuffle around 1:40 p.m., according to the Pyongtaek police. The injured were taken to a local hospital.
No other injuries were reported in the two-and-a-half-hour demonstration, which began around 11:30 a.m.
Repeated phone calls to protest organizers Monday were not answered.
The demonstrators, chanting and clapping, formed a long line outside the base’s northwest perimeter fence and shouted anti-American slogans.
Many students wore bright red kerchiefs concealing their faces. The students waved protest banners and threw paper airplanes toward the base’s fenceline.
The airplanes bore a printed “warning” message. About 200 were thrown, police said. Some rocks and plastic bottles also were thrown, they said.
About 6,000 Korean National Police officers wearing riot gear stood three-deep with the perimeter fence to their backs and the students in front of them.
The protest was nearly serene compared with a July 10 demonstration outside Camp Humphreys marked by fierce clashes between some of the 7,000 protestors and 10,000 KNP officers — the KNP’s largest deployment so far this year for a single demonstration. The protesters were against the plan to expand the base.
In that demonstration, protestors threw steel pipes and rocks at police and used ropes to pull down sections of the base’s perimeter fence. As many as 60 officers were injured in that demonstration. Protesters later said many of their number also were injured and accused police of using excessive force.
Meanwhile, police issued arrest warrants Monday for what they said were activist group leaders in connection with the July 10 protest. Police identified one of the men as the Rev. Moon Jung-hyun of the Pan National Solution Committee Against Expansion of Pyongtaek U.S. Troops. Police said they are also seeking Kim Ji-tae in connection with other alleged protest activity in Pyongtaek last month.