May 31, 2021 12:10
Around 2,000 U.S. soldiers and other foreigners gathered on Haeundae Beach in Busan on Saturday night to celebrate Memorial Day in flagrant violation of lockdown rules.
According to Busan police on Sunday, 38 complaints were filed by local residents about large groups of foreigners gathering in the area without wearing masks. Police estimate between 1,500 and 2,000 foreigners gathered in the area to celebrate the American military holiday.
Video clips of the party on social media showed large groups dancing on the beach either without masks or covering only a part of their faces at around 11:40 p.m. Many of them lit fireworks, which is also banned on beaches.
Police converged at the scene, but their numbers were not enough to disperse the revelers, many of whom refused to leave. Haeundae district officials admitted they have only six staffers on duty at night to crack down on lockdown violators.
The U.S. Forces Korea have been vaccinated since late last year and more than 70 percent of the 28,500 troops are now fully inoculated. But locals said they were afraid because they have no way of telling who has been vaccinated and who has not.
On July 4 last year, another American holiday, U.S. soldiers on leave also converged at the beach and lit fireworks, some even aiming them at local residents. But police said no incidents of violence were reported this time.
Haeundae district officials said they will make regular announcements at night in English informing visitors to the beach of social-distancing rules and ask U.S. military police for assistance.
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