SEOUL, South Korea — More than a score of universities were shut down Wednesday in an effort to stem a wave of anti-government protests, but thousands of students continued to battle the police in much of the country.
The violence appeared to be less intense than it was Tuesday. Students on dozens of university campuses were busy preparing for what is expected to be a major protest today.
Nonetheless, there were more violent incidents in Seoul and other cities, among them Pusan, Chinju, Taegu and Taejon.
Students attacked police stations, set fire to police vans, seized two tanker trucks and threatened to blow them up, fought running battles with the police, hurled stones and firebombs and were tear-gassed in return.
The Associated Press reported from Pusan, on the southeast coast, that the U.S. Consulate there has been closed as a precautionary measure after the police fired tear gas at students demonstrating nearby.
Bands of students were reported to have attacked two police stations and burned three police vans in Pusan. Two officers were reportedly injured.
In Chinju, to the west of Pusan, students occupied a stretch of highway, hijacked two tanker trucks carrying liquefied gas and threatened to blow them up. The police retook the trucks before the threat could be carried out.
In Taegu, an inland city north of Pusan, several thousand people fought with the police, and in Taejon, in the central part of the country, students burned a police post.
In Seoul, students demonstrated on campuses, waved banners and sang revolutionary songs.
Student sources said today has been designated "Anti-Tear Gas Day" and that there will be demonstrations nationwide demanding that the police stop using gas.
Larger Protests Expected
They said they expect to see larger numbers of students taking part in the unrest because of the universities being closed. By Wednesday, classes had been halted at 28 universities, before final examinations, and dozens more were expected to be closed today.
President Chun Doo Hwan, according to government sources, had previously made it a special point of pride that he had not closed universities to stifle protests.
Joining the students today will be followers of the National Coalition for a Democratic Constitution, a new alliance of political, religious and dissident groups. The coalition has called for a nationwide protest.
Outside the universities Wednesday, about 250 opposition politicians, among them Kim Young Sam, head of the opposition Reunification Democratic Party, gathered near the home of Kim Dae Jung and demanded that he be released from house arrest.
Kim Dae Jung, who was the opposition candidate for president in the last free presidential election in South Korea, in 1971, has been under house arrest for more than two months. The demonstration was broken up by policemen firing tear gas. About 50 of the demonstrators were taken into custody.
Meanwhile, Kwon Bo Kyong, chief of the national police, announced that his 120,000 policemen will stay at the highest level of readiness for an indefinite period.
The present alert, which began June 9, was originally to last only two days, until after the ruling Democratic Justice Party convention that nominated Roh Tae Woo to succeed Chun in February.
Chun has made it clear that his successor will be elected, as he was, by an electoral college. The opposition wants a direct election.
Despite the unrest that has swept the country, and the unusual display of public support for those taking part in it, most people in Seoul and elsewhere appeared to be going about their business as usual.
The surge of "people power" that rose up last year in the Philippines and toppled President Ferdinand E. Marcos has not developed here. Many analysts, foreign and South Korean, think it is not likely to develop here.