South Korea students fight police, rally at border

The Anarchives (tao@presence.lglobal.com)
Fri, 16 Aug 1996 15:35:39 +0000 (GMT)


^South Korea students fight police, rally at border@
SEOUL, Aug 14 (Reuter) - Hundreds of South Korean students
fought pitched battles in Seoul with riot police blocking them
from marching towards the border with North Korea on Wednesday,
witnesses said.
A police spokesman said about 18,000 riot police had been
deployed outside university campuses and along the road leading
to the border to stop students from heading for Panmunjom.
Police said an estimated 5,000 students gathered at several
Seoul campuses and tried to join about 2,000 students at Yonsei
University.
Yonsei is about 40 km (25 miles) from the border village of
Panmunjom, where about 1,000 North Koreans rallied to call for
the reunification of the Korean peninsula, divided since the end
of World War Two, Seoul's Korea Broadcasting System reported.
Two South Korean students who went to the communist North
last Saturday to attend a festival promoting the reunification
also attended the Panmunjom rally, it said.
The two from Hanchongryon, a nationwide council of radical
university students, have said they will try to cross the
heavily fortified border along with 100 North Korean students to
attend a similar festival at Seoul's Yonsei University.
North Korea's radio said the North Korean students had asked
the South to allow their passage through Panmunjom and guarantee
their safety.
``At this moment in Panmunjom, the 100-member delegation of
the North and overseas branches of the National Alliance of
Youth and Students for the Country's Reunification is waiting to
pass through Panmunjom to participate in the sixth grand
reunification festival due to be held in Seoul,'' the radio,
monitored by British Broadcasting Corp in London, said.
Panmunjom is the only crossing point along the
four-kilometre (2.5-mile) wide Demilitarized Zone that bisects
the peninsula.
Outside Yonsei, several hundred students threw petrol bombs
and stones at riot police in an attempt to break a police cordon
and march toward the border to welcome the two South Korean
students, witnesses said.
Police fired volleys of tear gas canisters to break up the
protesters who repeatedly regrouped to challenge police, they
said.
The protesters, masked and wielding iron pipes, chanted
slogans: ``Oust (President) Kim Young-sam's government'' and
``Unify the Korean peninsula.''
South Korea, which seeks detente before discussing
reunification with Pyongyang, has outlawed the festival. Seoul
officials said the students supported North Korean propaganda.
The clashes and the border rally marked the eve of the 51st
anniversary of the end of World War Two that liberated Korea
from 35 years of Japanese colonial rule but divided the
peninsula into the communist North and capitalist South.
More than 100 police and students have been injured during
protests over the past two days in which demonstrators called
for the unconditional unification of the peninsula's 68 million
people.
The two Koreas are still technically at war after their
1950-53 conflict ended in a truce.
Seoul, which bans all unauthorised contacts with the
communist North, has said the two students who illegally went to
the North would be arrested on their return home.