U.S. Soldiers Held for Harassing Woman on Subway

Two Korean men try to stop U.S. soldiers after they harassed a woman on a subway train on Saturday. /Courtesy of subway police Two Korean men try to stop U.S. soldiers after they harassed a woman on a subway train on Saturday. /Courtesy of subway police

Three U.S. soldiers have been handed over to U.S. military police for sexually harassing a Korean woman in her 20s on the subway after she asked them to quiet down. Three other U.S. soldiers who were part of the same group ran away, subway police said on Sunday.

The incident occurred around 9:15 p.m. Saturday on the subway bound for Incheon from Dongducheon, Gyeonggi Province, when six U.S. soldiers played a boombox loudly, dancing and hollering. There were around 20 to 30 other passengers on the same train at the time. One of them, a 21-year-old woman identified only by her surname Jeon, approached the G.I.s and asked them to keep the noise down, but the men instead started taking photos of her.

When Jeon protested, the soldiers responded she was "cute" and "beautiful," according to witness accounts. Then the soldiers repeatedly touched Jeon's breasts, arm and wrist.

Jeon called the police, and when they realized, the soldiers tried to get off at the next stop and practically dragged Jeon out of the subway train when she attempted to block them. Two bystanders tussled with the soldiers for about 10 minutes, following them to the gate, and were able to hold on to three of them until police arrived.

Subway police said the three were handed over to U.S. military police in exchange for a written guarantee to investigate them. The other three are still being sought. They added that they plan to interview Jeon and the three U.S. soldiers on Tuesday.

U.S. Forces Korea personnel enjoy a degree of impunity since the U.S. side has jurisdiction over them, though a recent revision of the Status of Forces Agreement gives Korean law enforcement greater powers in case of major crimes.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 04, 2013 10:52 KST