Woman who started Yongsan fire makes final appeal
September 3, 2006
SEOUL — The South Korean woman convicted of setting a fire earlier this year on Yongsan Garrison has made her final appeal to South Korea’s highest court, officials confirmed Friday.
Kweon Jung-ja lost a similar appeal last month after arguing that she had poor representation and that the judge acted improperly in her case.
South Korean authorities have determined Kweon suffers from mental illness but also decided she was competent to stand trial.
In June, Kweon was sentenced to two years in prison. Before she begins her jail time, she must be treated for her mental illness.
Prosecution officials explained that there is no timetable on how long Kweon might stay in the medical facility before serving the jail sentence. She’ll transfer to prison after medical officials determine she can make the move, he said.
Kweon has admitted to South Korean police that on March 16 she found an open gate to the Korean Service Corps compound, a U.S. military base next to Yongsan’s Main Post, and entered. She used a lighter and workers’ gloves to start the fire, she told police then.
During a May hearing, Kweon testified that she set the fire because she couldn’t obtain a U.S. visa to visit her family. She said she spent years protesting America and South Korea for refusing to help her reunite with her sons.
Three buildings were destroyed and three South Korean workers were burned in the early-morning fire.
The Supreme Court of Korea likely will rule on the case with no oral arguments.
No date has been set for any answer from the court in the case.