Gov't to Rethink USFK Agreement After Rapes

The government wants to take another look at the Status of Forces Agreement with the U.S. military to bolster the authority of Korean police after a series of rapes of Korean teenagers by American soldiers.

A Foreign Ministry official on Monday said, "We will assess the problems and difficulties encountered by police in investigating U.S. soldiers accused of crimes and demand improvements." The ministry plans to comb through SOFA and discuss possible improvements next month.

Under SOFA, which was revised in 2001, the U.S. military must hand over soldiers accused of 12 major crimes, including murder and rape, after prosecutors here indict him. That was an improvement from the old SOFA regulations between the U.S. and Germany, whereby the U.S. hands over a suspect only after a court sentences him. But unless a suspect has been arrested by Korean police, a U.S. soldier accused of a crime cannot be held in custody, making it difficult to determine his whereabouts in the initial stage of investigations.

The official said, "Under existing SOFA rules, the U.S. military is bound to respond immediately to requests by our side for an American soldier to appear before investigators, so we plan to focus more on finding a better way to manage the agreement rather than on revising it."

englishnews@chosun.com / Oct. 11, 2011 12:00 KST