Soldier says friend not at fault for assault in South Korea
October 10, 2007
UIJEONGBU, South Korea — A soldier on trial for assaulting two South Koreans outside a Dongducheon bar was actually the victim, his “battle buddy” testified Monday in South Korean court.
On Monday, Pvt. Dustin T. Roper listened as the soldier with him during the April 25 incident, Pfc. Roy Anderson, described his version of what happened that night.
Roper has been the focus of anti-U.S. military protesters since being arrested next to a May 19 beauty shop blaze. Prosecutors did not charge him with arson but he is likely to face lesser charges.
In the alleged assault case, Anderson testified he and Roper walked into the JJ Bar in Dongducheon’s New Town, where they soon met two Korean women.
They sat down and ordered drinks for the women. Kim Yung-soon and another man named Baek, both of whom appeared to be in their 20s, arrived later and joined them.
Anderson said he ordered beer and soju for Kim and Baek. Roper only drank soda, Anderson testified.
They all got up to leave when a bar employee stopped Anderson and said the two women had ordered a meal before the soldiers walked in but hadn’t paid for it, Anderson testified.
Anderson didn’t have the money for their meals, so he went outside with the bar employee to find them.
“We heard screams from the stairs,” Anderson testified.
Roper claims he was pushed and rolled halfway down a staircase with the Koreans.
Anderson said that when he walked out the bar doors, he saw Kim and Baek holding Roper, who was curled up.
“I yelled real loud to stop,” Anderson said. “They didn’t pay me much attention … I ran over and grabbed Roper to pull him back and when I grabbed him, that’s when I was grabbed.”
Anderson said one of the Koreans ripped his shirt as he tried to get Roper out of the fight.
Roper and Anderson then ran to a nearby train station where they were intercepted by three South Korean police officers.
Kim and Baek weren’t far behind. Anderson said one of them ran up to him and punched him in the face in front of the police.
Nevertheless, Anderson said he offered the two Koreans an apology after being advised by a status of forces agreement liaison to do so.
Roper and Anderson both were treated for their injuries that night.
Anderson said he thinks the incident was the result of Kim and Baek seeing the soldiers with the women that they had come to the bar to meet.
“I think that was what the confrontation was about,” Anderson said.
The next trial session was scheduled for Oct. 17 at 2 p.m.