Korean Students Invade Ambassador’s Home to Protest Pentagon Expansion

October 20th, 2019 - by Korea Collaboration & Bloomberg & Reuters

“No to $6 Billion to Station American Troops,” Korean University Students Protest

Simone Chun / Korea Collaboration

SEOUL, South Korea (October 18, 2019) — On October 18, college students from the Korea University Student Association staged a protest inside the residence of the US ambassador to South Korea to protest against a defense cost-sharing proposal. The students eventually climbed the walls surrounding the residence and entered the US Embassy, raising their voices and banners to condemn the US’s request for asking $  billion in military contributions.

In 2018, South Korea paid $920 million for the support of US troops based inside the country (as well as nearly $11 billion in extra costs for building the Camp Humphreys facility). Te United States is now reportedly demanding that South Korea spend an additional $6 billion for 2019. Negotiations will start in December. 

South Korean Students Break Into US Ambassador’s Residence

Kanga Kong and Jihye Lee / Bloomberg

SEOUL, South Korea (October 18, 2019) — A group of South Korean students broke into the residence of American ambassador Harry Harris on Friday, in a protest against Donald Trump’s campaign to get the Asian nation to pay more for US military support.

Nineteen students, who described themselves as members of a liberal university students’ group, were detained by police after staging a protest against plans to impose a bigger financial burden for the stationing of US troops in the country, the Yonhap News Agency reported.

The students used a ladder to climb the walls of the ambassador’s residence, next to an old South Korean palace, and urged Harris to leave the country.

The incident happened days before officials from the US and South Korea are due to meet in Honolulu for the next round of talks on sharing defense costs.

After the incident, Seoul police dispatched 80 more officers to beef up security of the envoy’s home, according to Yonhap.

Earlier this year, the two allies reached a one-year cost-sharing deal for maintaining about 28,500 American troops in South Korea. That deal expires at the end of 2019.

The relationship between the two allies soured after Seoul abruptly announced the termination of a three-year-old pact with Japan — another US key ally — for exchanging classified military information. That was in response to Japan’s move to restrict exports of key materials for the manufacture of semiconductors to South Korea.

South Korean Students Climb into US Envoy’s Residence in Protest Against Troop Presence

Hyonhee Shin / Reuters

SEOUL (October 18k 2019) — South Korean police detained 19 students on Friday after several climbed over the wall into the grounds of the US ambassador’s residence in Seoul in protest against the US troop presence in the country.

The group, which identifies itself as a coalition of progressive university students, posted photos on its Facebook account in which several members used ladders to climb over a wall surrounding the home of Ambassador Harry Harris.

In a separate video, apparently broadcast from inside the compound, they accused the United States of demanding a 500% increase in the cost of keeping some 28,500 troops in South Korea, holding a banner saying “Leave this soil, Harris”.

“Stop interfering with our domestic affairs,” they shouted, followed by other chants “Get out”, and “We don’t need US troops”, before being marched out of the residence by police.

Approximately 20 Korean nationals illegally entered the official residential compound of the US Ambassador and attempted to forcibly enter the residence itself, said William Coleman, spokesman for the US Embassy in Seoul said in a statement on Saturday.

This is the second instance of illegal entry into the Ambassador’s residential compound in 14 months.

“We are seriously concerned about the illegal breach of the Ambassador’s residential compound and urge the ROK to protect all diplomatic missions and residences,” Coleman said, using the acronym for South Korea’s official name, Republic of Korea.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said it had requested increased security for the US embassy and the ambassador’s residence.

“Any harm or attack on such a diplomatic mission cannot be justified under any circumstances, and the government will take all appropriate measures to protect the missions and prevent any acts that disturb their wellbeing,” the ministry said in a statement.

A police official told Reuters that 19 students were taken to a police station for questioning.

In June, the student group held a forum to present their “research findings” on the achievements of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, lauding him as a caring and influential leader.

The students also attempted to break into the US Embassy in Seoul last January before being stopped by police.

The two countries are currently in talks over how to share the expense of keeping the US troops who guard against the threat from nuclear-armed North Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War.

A fresh round of talks will be held in Hawaii on Oct. 23-24 to negotiate a deal that will replace one due to expire at the end of this year, the foreign ministry said.

“Our government will have close discussions under our basic stance that we will have a fair, reasonable share of the costs,” the ministry said in a separate statement on Friday.

“We expect the talks will take place in a way that reinforces the alliance and joint defense posture.”

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