(en) Firebombs Blaze In Seoul

Arm The Spirit (ats@locust.etext.org)
Mon, 2 Jun 1997 04:20:13 -0400 (EDT)

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Firebombs Blaze In Seoul As Students Riot

Asahi Evening News - June 2, 1997

SEOUL - South Korea's militant students, brandishing iron pipes and crude firebombs, battled riot police in Seoul Sunday in protests demanding the resignation of President Kim Young-sam. As many as 10,000 students took to the streets over the weekend, dashing through the city's subway system and emerging suddenly at station entrances to engage police. Large areas of the city echoed to the sounds of splintering glass as gasoline bombs fashioned from beer bottles landed at the feet of riot officers, engulfing them in sheets of flame. Armored police teargas launchers sent volleys of gas shells arching into the sky in response. Some officers sprayed stinging gas into the faces of demonstrators, many of them young women, from hand-held canisters. The worst student violence in almost a year was sparked by Kim's refusal to bow to opposition demands and reveal how much he spent on his 1992 election campaign. Hit-and-run attacks by students were carefully orchestrated by an outlawed left-wing campus body that the government alleges takes its orders from rival North Korea. Subway trains were held up as long snakes of students scampered on foot along the tracks through long tunnels deep beneath the city. Among the students were members of far left groups affiliated to international socialist organizations. But most were fresh-faced undergraduates clad in jeans and sporting baseball caps, and carrying firebombs in backpacks. "Bring down Kim Young-sam!" and "Reveal the Election Funds!" they chanted for the third day of protests.

Riot Police Foil Student Rally; Violent Clashes Continue For Third Straight Day

Korea Herald - June 2, 1997 Violent clashes occurred for the third straight day in Seoul yesterday, with riot police squaring off against anti-government university students. Protesting students could be heard shouting "Down with Kim Young-sam". The insurgents attempted to organize a rally in front of City Hall, but the bid was foiled by thousands of riot police maintaining tight control in central Seoul. Armored vehicles were deployed around the Seoul administration building and riot police in full gear were posted near subway entrances. After the City Hall rally was aborted, more protests occurred across Seoul, as separate groups engaged in running battles with police. The demonstrators shouted anti-government slogans and hurled firebombs at police, who responded by firing tear-gas canisters. On Saturday evening, an estimated 1,000 students demonstrated violently, protesting a massive police blockade around Hanyang University in eastern Seoul. Masked radicals armed with firebombs and steel pipes spearheaded the standoff. A 19-year-old female student collapsed on the street from heart problems. She's in a coma at Kyunghee University Hospital. The street battle started Friday, when police sealed off Hanyang University to foil "Hanchongnyon", a rebellious student organization. Protesting students from across Korea came to Seoul Friday, including hundreds from a southern province, who hijacked a train to the capital. The weekend clashes inconvenienced citizens with traffic back-ups and floating tear gas. Hanchongnyon has stepped up its anti-government offensive, demanding the resignation of President Kim. Kim is reeling from a series of corruption scandals, including a prominent case involving his second son. Kim Hyun-chul was arrested last month on graft and tax evasion charges. The student confrontation occurred perhaps to put more pressure on Kim to reveal the source of his 1992 campaign finances. In a nationally televised speech Friday, the President conceded that past political practices forced him to spend "huge amounts" of money, but he refused to reveal details. Student protests will likely continue through this month, if not longer, authorities predicted. Security authorities have pledged to deal resolutely with student violence, and have accused Hanchongnyon of attempting to overthrow the nation's democratic system by violence means. The campus unrest is expected to culminate June 10, the same day 10 years ago when weeks of nationwide protests erupted against then unpopular President Chun Doo Hwan. The protests forced Chun's government and ruling party to submit to public demands for democratic reforms, including a Presidential election through direct, popular voting.

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