Charges filed against club manager in brawl with GIs

Four South Korean men protest U.S. military crime outside U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan on March 19, 2013, as photographers look on. (Ashley Rowland/Stars and Stripes)
Four South Korean men protest U.S. military crime outside U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan on March 19, 2013, as photographers look on. (Ashley Rowland/Stars and Stripes)

Charges filed against club manager in brawl with GIs

by: Jon Rabiroff and Ashley Rowland | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: March 20, 2013

SEOUL — A Korean night club manager who police say stabbed three U.S. soldiers during a brawl was in jail Tuesday after being charged with causing injury to others.

He was not charged with more serious crimes, such as assault or attempted murder, because he only stabbed the soldiers Saturday after being forced to defend himself, a Dongducheon Police spokesman said.

“He had no intention of murdering any of the soldiers, and only wielded the knife against them because he was being assaulted by them,” the police official said.

The case will be forwarded to the Uijeongbu District Prosecutor’s office for further consideration.

The 6 a.m. brawl in The Ville outside Camp Casey was the most serious of three incidents involving U.S. soldiers over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. The rash of bad behavior prompted 2nd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Edward Cardon on Monday to set a number of indefinite restrictions — including a ban on alcohol consumption and the end of three- and four-day weekend passes — on his 10,000 soldiers in South Korea.

The recent string of criminal incidents involving U.S. soldiers has received national media attention and calls from South Korean government officials for tighter controls on American servicemembers. A frequent target of South Korean media and government criticism is the Status of Forces agreement which, among other things, regulates how cases involving servicemembers accused of crimes are handled.

On Tuesday, four South Korean men held a short protest about recent American military crimes outside U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, but were outnumbered by a half-dozen South Korean news photographers and more than a dozen South Korean police officers.

The men wore headbands with slogans that read: “Inebriation stop!” “Indecent assault stop!” and “Attack as a mob stop!”

Police said everyone involved in the Dongducheon brawl had been drinking prior to the incident. The confrontation involved five Camp Casey soldiers and began when four of them tried to help a drunken Filipina woman who repeatedly fell down outside a club as she tried to stand up, according to police reports.

The woman’s husband, a Korean-American staff sergeant, saw the encounter and mistakenly believed the other soldiers were flirting with her. He took a plastic baseball bat from his car, handed it to his wife, and began fighting the four soldiers with a knife, police said.

The South Korean manager of a nearby club in The Ville, identified by police as a 33-year-old man surnamed Lee, jumped into the fray, grabbed the knife from the staff sergeant and stabbed three of the soldiers — one in the abdomen, one in the buttocks and one in the hand — police said.

Lee and the staff sergeant were acquaintances, police reported.

Two additional incidents involving U.S. soldiers occurred early Sunday morning.

Shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday, Mapo Police said a private was on his way back to his base after drinking in Hongdae — a popular entertainment district in Seoul — when he stopped to use a nightclub’s bathroom.

Police were called when the soldier broke a toilet cover and mouthwash dispenser, and got into a fight with one of the police officers, slapping him, breaking his glasses and tearing his shirt, reports said.

About two hours later, a U.S. Army sergeant was involved in an argument when police intervened. Police said the sergeant pushed an officer, forcing him to stumble down a set of stairs, injuring his knees.

Police said both cases will be referred to the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office.

Stars and Stripes’s Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.

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