Two U.S. soldiers shoved, spat on at Seoul Station
December 21, 2002
YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Two U.S. soldiers were shoved and spat on Thursday morning at Seoul Station by disgruntled Korean men, an 8th Army spokeswoman said Friday. The soldiers escaped without injury.
A staff sergeant and specialist, both part of the 1st Replacement Detachment at Yongsan, were waiting outside Seoul Station around 10:30 a.m. for other soldiers arriving from Taegu, said Maj. Holly Pierce. A Korean man in his mid-40s approached them, asking for a cigarette or money, she said.
Both soldiers were dressed in green fatigues. Their names have not been released.
The specialist, a Korean-American soldier who speaks Korean, asked the man to please go away, she said. The man began cursing, and the soldiers moved to a different area outside the station.
A second Korean man, also in his mid-40s, tried to grab the staff sergeant, Pierce said. The specialist stepped between the men and told the man in Korean the soldiers didn’t want trouble, she said.
At that point, the soldiers decided to move inside the station where there were more people, Pierce said. They moved near the south exit of the station, she said.
A third confrontation ensued. Another Korean man grabbed the specialist’s brassard — a U.S. Army armband identifying his unit — and poked him in the chest while cursing, Pierce said.
The two soldiers attempted to walk away, but the man followed and continued to curse at them.
“After that, they were telling him, ‘Please leave us alone,’ and then they basically tried to walk away from this individual,” Pierce said. “The Korean man continued to grab at them, continued to yell at them.”
By this time, a crowd and a Korea Broadcast System television news crew appeared, she said. Pierce said the Army believes the crew was there by coincidence.
A former Korean soldier who served with a U.S. Army unit came from the crowd and physically restrained the third assailant while the soldiers moved to the waiting U.S. Army bus, Pierce said.
While going to the bus, the crowd spat and made vulgar gestures to the soldiers, she said. The crowd also asked questions about the two young girls killed in the June armored vehicle accident. The soldiers coming from Taegu to Seoul by train reached the bus without incident, Pierce said.
No new restrictions have been made on soldiers traveling to Seoul Station, the central train station in Seoul, Pierce said. However, soldiers can’t wear green fatigues to the Inchon International Airport, Pierce said.
Officials contacted at Seoul Station and Yongsan Police Station said they have no knowledge of the incident.
Choe Song-won contributed to this report.