(en) Tensions High In Seoul After Protests

Arm The Spirit (ats@locust.etext.org)
Wed, 4 Jun 1997 01:38:05 -0400 (EDT)

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Tensions High In Seoul After Protests; Autopsy Supports Student Claims Policeman Was Killed By Police Vehicle

The Japan Times - June 4, 1997

SEOUL - An autopsy on a South Korean riot policeman killed during campus violence this week cast doubt on reports he was clubbed to death by students and supported student claims he was killed by a police vehicle. Senior prosecutor Shin Gun-soo said it was possible the officer was hit by a pepper gas launcher as students maintained. Earlier, a left-wing campus body that orchestrated the violence issued a statement saying the 21-year-old officer was one of four run over by an armored teargas launcher in fierce clashes outside a Seoul university. The death raised the heat in a five-day confrontation between authorities and radical students. Assigning blame will have an important bearing on how the violence plays out. Police last August launched a military-style assault on a Seoul campus to end a student revolt. Officer Yoo Ji-woong died after thousands of students punched a hole in a police cordon around Hanyang University and began lashing out with metal bars at riot officers. Since violence began Friday, 215 police officers have been injured, 40 severely, according to police figures. A total of 34 students have been arrested. One student was in hospital recovering from brain surgery after being injured in hand-to-hand combat on a bridge leading to Hanyang University. Tuesday evening, several thousand students who had gathered at Seoul University slipped off the campus with bars and firebombs and occupied a large stretch of road in a downtown area. They later dispersed and no clashes were reported. The students have set up an altar at Seoul University to pay their respects to Yoo. Students are demanding Kim's resignation, picking up on a wave of popular anger against the head of state over his refusal to reveal his spending in 1992 presidential elections. The Hanchongryon statement expressed regret over the death of the officer, the first fatality of the recent violence. But it blamed authorities and defiantly vowed to continue its struggle to bring down the president. "We ask that the murderous and corrupt Kim Young-sam regime take full responsibility and resign," the statement said. After the last round of leftist-inspired violence at Yonsei University in August last year, authorities arrested 151 leaders of the Hanchongryon, dealing a severe blow to the body that the government says takes orders from North Korea. But it has rebounded to take center stage in the current political crisis surrounding Kim's campaign spending, extracting full advantage from the president's weakness.

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