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S. Korean Demonstrators and Police Clash; 20 Hurt

March 04, 1987|Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — Demonstrators fought for hours Tuesday against nearly 50,000 riot police in hit-and-run clashes on the streets of Seoul during a day of remembrance for a student who died during police torture.

Violent confrontations were alsoreported in six other cities. Police said that 20 people were hurt in all--two seriously--and that 395 were detained.

At least four opposition lawmakers were injured, one seriously, in leading protesters against police, who fired tear gas and used shields and truncheons to fend off demonstrators.

49 Days After Death

Tuesday's "Grand Peace Marches for Anti-Torture and Democratization" were called by the main opposition New Korea Democratic Party and 47 dissident and church groups to mark the 49th day after the death of Park Jong Chul, 21. The 49th-day rite is a Buddhist practice to mark the entry of the deceased person's soul into another world.

Park, a dissident student from Seoul National University, died Jan. 14 while being questioned by police using water torture. An official investigation found that Park died after his throat was pressed against a bathtub during police interrogation. President Chun Doo Hwan dismissed his home minister and the national police chief as a result. The government arrested two police officers in the case and promised steps to prevent any recurrence, but it accused the opposition of exploiting Park's death.

National Police Director Lee Yong Chang said Tuesday that 20 people were put under house arrest. But Dong-A Ilbo, the nation's biggest independent national daily newspaper, and Yonhap News Agency said at least 72 people, including top dissident leaders Kim Young Sam and Kim Dae Jung, were confined to their homes.

123 Students Detained

Lee said 123 students were among those detained. He said 171 people were held in Seoul and 25 in Pusan, the nation's second largest city, 205 miles southeast of the capital. Other arrests were made in Taegu, Kwangju and Taejon.

Demonstrations also were reported in Chonju, 120 miles south of Seoul, and Chongju, 70 miles south-southeast of the capital.

Despite the violence, police were largely in control of Tuesday's street actions, through which critics of the government sought to point up their demands for greater democracy and protection of human rights in South Korea.

The number of marchers obviously fell short of organizers' expections. Many students chose to hold their own rallies on campus.

Chun's Seventh Year

The opposition protests clouded the start Tuesday of President Chun's seventh year in office. The usual tributes accorded Chun on such an occasion were buried in coverage of street clashes.

The South Korean constitution limits a president to seven years in office. Chun, a former general, has said several times he will step down in 1988 when his time is up.

Thousands of students and dissidents began marching from 15 different locations at noon, heading toward Pagoda Park in central Seoul.

Lee said only 1,000 people marched in Seoul. Dong-A Ilbo, however, said about 2,000 people were involved in one clash in central Seoul.

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