Protesters scale wall at Yongsan
Stars and Stripes June 14, 2003
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Members of an outlawed protest group scaled a wall Thursday, leaping onto the U.S. military’s headquarters in Korea, Army officials said.
All 14 resisted but were arrested using plastic and regular handcuffs, said Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, 8th Army public affairs officer. No injuries were reported and the base was not damaged.
The group was turned over to Korean National Police officers after about 30 minutes, Boylan said.
“We were not sure where they were trying to go,” Boylan said. “We support the right to protest and freedom of speech, but we do not condone one illegally entering the facility.”
The group videotaped its assault on the base and posted it on www.voiceofpeople.org
The video says the group was part of the Korean Federation of University Student Councils, known in Korean as Hanchongryun.
The group sympathizes with North Korea, advocating closer ties between the two Koreas. But membership violates South Korea’s National Security Law.
On the video, protesters are seen easily climbing a small concrete wall tipped with metal spikes that runs in back of the Korean War Museum, adjacent to the four-way stop by the Townhouse eatery. Uniformed U.S. soldiers are seen chasing them, then frisking them for weapons.
One protester shouts loudly in reference to the armored vehicle accident that killed two 13-year-old Korean teenagers on June 13, 2002. That day, a 2nd Infantry Division vehicle crushed Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-soon on Highway 56, about 15 miles north of Seoul.
“Make Hyo-soon and Mi-son live!” he shouts while an American soldier holds him and a police car siren blares, blocking his shouts. “American soldiers apologize to the Korean government!”
The deaths led to mass protests calling for withdrawal of the 37,000 U.S. servicemembers from South Korea.
Five of the protesters were taken to Chongryangri Police Station, a police office said, adding that the incident is under investigation. Other demonstrators were taken to Songpa and Chungnang police stations, said a police officer at Yongsan Police Station.
— Choe Song-won and Daniel Lee contributed to this report.