Stories differ in alleged cab theft by soldiers in South Korea
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — South Korean police are trying to determine what happened early Saturday when four 2nd Infantry Division soldiers allegedly stole a taxi and injured two South Korean men in Dongducheon.
The soldiers say they were fleeing an angry crowd after two South Korean men assaulted them, according to police statements. The two South Korean men say the soldiers attacked them and dragged them nearly a mile dangling from the taxi, police said.
“At this point, all we can say is the case needs further investigation because everybody told different stories,” Yangju Police detective Rho Jung-hyun said.
The soldiers, whose names have not been released, belong to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Division’s headquarters company, a 2nd ID spokesman confirmed Monday.
About 2 a.m., the soldiers jumped into a taxi and told the 25-year-old driver to leave, police said.
Meanwhile, two men identified by police as Mr. Lee, 19, and Mr. Kim, 29, ran toward the taxi shouting, “Stop the car!”
At least one of those men was bleeding, police said.
The taxi driver got out of his car, opened the door and told the soldiers to leave, according to police. Instead, one of the soldiers allegedly grabbed the wheel.
Lee, who still was hospitalized Monday, and Park tried to get in the taxi as it pulled away.
The soldier allegedly driving the taxi later registered a legally drunk .10 blood alcohol level, police said.
Park said one soldier held his leg while he dangled from the taxi, according to his police statement.
After chasing the car for nearly a mile, police fired a blank shot at the taxi. The soldiers stopped and were arrested, Rho said.
The soldiers have since been returned to their unit; however, Yangju police want to further question them.
Lee said he and the soldiers bumped shoulders outside a bar near Camp Casey, spurring a fistfight. However, Lee’s second police statement differed from his first statement, Rho said. Rho would not elaborate on those differences.
A crowd saw Lee’s bloody face and swarmed the soldiers, according to police.
According to a 21-year-old soldier allegedly involved in the incident, about 20 people gathered to help Lee, causing the soldiers to flee to the cab.
South Korean news service YTN reported that Lee has been charged with assault and that police are investigating whether others should be charged. However, Yangu police were unavailable to confirm the report Monday afternoon.
A 2nd ID spokesman said that they would continue to cooperate with the investigation.
Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this report.