Seoul: police attack occupied building, kill protestors

Six dead, many injured and arrested after police attack protestors near American Military Base.

Submitted by akai on January 21, 2009

Yongsan in Seoul is to be "redeveloped", that is gentrified. This is effecting not only residents, but many small family-run businesses in the area. Members of the Committee of Residents Forced Out of Yongsan District 4 in Seoul and the National Coalition of Forcefully Relocated People decided on Jan. 19 to occupy a building in protest. The developers want to build an International Monetary Center there.

The next morning, Jan. 20, the SWAT team commandos attacked before at 6:45 AM. About 1300 police were mobilized into action against the 40 people in the building. About 100 commandos landed on the roof.

It is not clear what happened next. Police claim that protestors were throwing Molotov cocktails and somehow the roof caught on fire because of this. But anybody who can recall a few similar situations know that police have been know to set fires on rooftops to get the occupants out. The place went up in flames. 5 protestors and one cop died. 28 people were arrested. 23 are injured, some seriously.

Families wanted to see the bodies of the victims but they were carried away without their consent. It looks as if many of the victims were middle-aged, the oldest victim a 70-year old man. A large demonstration was held that night and demonstrators clashed with police.

Disputes over gentrification are becoming more and more frequent in Seoul. There is a lot of corruption and money involved and poor and working class residents are often screwed as they are displaced usually with only a paltry compensation.

(Thanks to Kumokor for information.)



15 years 4 months ago

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Submitted by akai on January 23, 2009

Update: Jan. 23: Five protesters were arrested Thursday after an investigative division of the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office asked a court to issue arrest warrants for six people on charges that they threw Molotov cocktails to prevent police from removing them from the site and caused the fire that resulted in the deaths of six other people, including one policeman.

Three of the five are members of a group called Federation Against House Demolition. They are being pinned as the "organizers" of the protest.

The police and media are doing a PR hachet job on these protestors, claiming even that the activists of the Federation organized the protest against the will of local resudents.


14 years 11 months ago

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Submitted by Hieronymous on July 20, 2009

According to Korean tradition, a funeral should be within 3 days of a death, but the 5 bodies of the victims of the attack are still in a hospital 6 months later.

So protesters have been trying to get the bodies in order to have a public ceremony at the plaza in front of Seoul City Hall (where demos have traditionally gathered; in 1987 over 1,000,000 gathered after student Lee Han Yeol was killed by a tear gas canister at a demo at Yonsei University).

The following photos are from today (Monday, July 20, 2009) as protesters brought coffins to try retrieve the bodies from the hospital's morgue in order to have a proper commemoration. But as you can see, they are thwarted by the riot police.