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S. Korea Police, Students Clash Over Protesters

May 24, 1985|Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — Police clashed with hundreds of students today at five universities where demonstrators shouted slogans in support of a group holed up in the U.S. Information Service building. The protesters hurled rocks and firebombs and the police fired tear gas.

Earlier today, two leading dissidents urged restraint on the student protesters who have barricaded themselves in the second-floor library of the USIS building and vowed to "fast to the end."

At the prestigious Yonsei University, police fired tear gas to break up about 800 demonstrators who fought with gasoline-filled bottles and stones.

Urged to Depart

Witnesses reported similar demonstrations at Sungkyunkwan, Korea, Sogang and Seoul National universities.

A message from U.S. Ambassador Richard L. Walker, urging the 70 barricaded students to depart with "quiet dignity," was delivered to them late in the day.

The students are protesting a 1980 military operation in the southern city of Kwangju in which the government says 191 people died. Dissidents and human rights groups put the toll much higher.

The students have demanded that the United States withdraw its support for the South Korean government, apologize for an alleged role in the Kwangju crackdown and "withdraw all economic measures disadvantageous to the Korean people."

U.S. officials repeatedly have denied any U.S. involvement or responsibility for what occurred at Kwangju.

Began After Martial Law

The Kwangju revolt began shortly after President Chun Doo Hwan's government declared martial law on May 18, 1980, and the fighting continued for nine days before troops put it down.

Walker's message to the students said: "We have reached a point where it is doubtful whether continuing your current actions can really contribute to the goals which you seek.

"May I implore you to depart from the USIS building with a quiet dignity befitting representatives of the Korean nation."

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