US service member accused of assaulting two South Korean men with fire extinguisher

By MATTHEW KEELER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 4, 2020

A U.S. service member who allegedly sprayed two South Korean men with a fire extinguisher Sunday faces a charge of “special violence” and a maximum five years in prison, according to South Korean police.

The service member, whom police did not identify as common practice, wielded the extinguisher at 5:23 a.m. on two men in their 20s waiting for a taxi in a popular area of Seoul near Hongik University, according to the criminal division director at the Mapo police station.

The victims did not require medical attention, the police spokesman said.

Police arrested the service member at the scene, but not before he attempted to flee, the spokesman said. He said the service member was intoxicated at the time.

Police turned the service member over to U.S. military authorities, saying they will call him back later for questioning.

U.S. Forces Korea in a statement emailed to Stars and Stripes on Tuesday said it is cooperating with the Korean National Police, which has jurisdiction in the case.

“As this is an ongoing investigation, we will not provide any comments or statements until the investigation is complete,” the statement added.

The police spokesman said the service member is suspected of committing “special violence,” which is defined as a crime committed through the threat of collective force or by carrying a dangerous weapon. A conviction carries up to five years imprisonment, or a fine not exceeding 10 million won, or roughly $9,000, according to the National Law Information Center website.

Stars and Stripes reporter Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.

Twitter: @MattKeeler1231