Korea mayor boycotts concert after alleged US troop assault

Members of the group "One Mind," perform at Camp Red Cloud, South Korea, on Sept. 3, 2014. Uijeongbu City and Gyeonggi Province officials hosted the concert dedicated to the 2nd Infantry Division, but Uijeongbu mayor Ahn Byung Yong boycotted the event in protest of recent incidents, including an attack on a local taxi driver, purportedly involving U.S. servicemembers.



SEOUL, South Korea — The Uijeongbu mayor boycotted a friendship concert at Camp Red Cloud last week after a 2nd Infantry Division soldier allegedly assaulted a taxi driver.

A second incident further exacerbated simmering resentment among local residents at what they see as a never-ending string of crimes by American soldiers, said a spokesman for Mayor Ahn Byung Yong.

2ID commander Maj. Gen. Thomas Vandal apologized in writing and in a telephone conversation with Ahn. Brig. Gen. Richard Kim, assistant division commander for maneuver, met with the mayor.

The soldier, identified by Uijeongbu police as a sergeant, is suspected of assaulting a taxi driver shortly after midnight on Sept. 2 on a road near the base’s back gate. The driver was taken to a hospital after losing control and running onto a curb. No information on his injuries was available.

After the incident, the soldier entered the base but was later questioned by South Korean police. Their investigation is ongoing; no charges have been filed.

The incident prompted Ahn to skip a Sept. 3 “One Mind Concert” at CRC hosted by 2ID and Gyeonggi province for the local Korean and U.S. military communities. South Korea’s Yonhap News reported that a ruling party lawmaker and other officials also stayed away.

The city spokesperson, said Ahn declined to attend because he was unhappy about misbehavior by U.S. Forces Korea personnel in general, not just the alleged assault on the taxi driver. But the soldier’s claims that he couldn’t remember what happened made the public and the mayor unhappy, he said.

“Residents know U.S. troops are here to defend our country, but they felt it was undesirable for the mayor to attend the event,” the spokesman said.

Another soldier was accused of flirting with a 26-year-old South Korean woman around 10 p.m. on Sept. 7 at Hoeryong Station, one stop from Uijeongbu, then shoving her toward a wall.

Arrested at the scene, the soldier admitted to being drunk and told police the woman, who was not injured, resembled his ex-girlfriend. A Uijeongbu police official identified the soldier as a private stationed at Camp Stanley. No charges have been filed. Police said they have completed their investigation and will forward the case to prosecutors.

Ahn’s spokesman said residents are skeptical that 2ID can do anything to stop troop misbehavior.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say people can’t step out onto the street at night. But they are nervous, and they are scared (of U.S. soldiers),” he said.

Scott Rawlinson said in an email that although Ahn did not attend the concert, 2ID has developed a close relationship with Uijeongbu city leaders and “we look forward to future positive engagements with the community leaders.”