- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 8, 2002

SEOUL About 15,000 people carrying candles protested across the street from the U.S. Embassy yesterday in the largest show of anti-U.S. sentiment in years.
The protesters, upset with what they say is preferential treatment to American soldiers in Korea, booed and chanted "President Bush apologize" and "Let's drive out the murderous American GIs."
About 9,000 police armed with helmets, batons and plastic shields spread out in districts around the embassy. Police buses surrounded the embassy compound.
The protest underscores how sensitive ties between Washington and Seoul have become. The allies' bond, forged during the Korean War, is being tested by widespread anger that followed acquittals of two American soldiers whose armored vehicle struck and killed two 13-year-old South Korean girls in June.
The two soldiers left the country after they were acquitted last month.
"The trial may be over, but the judgment continues," said Yoon Kyong-hee, a student leader.
After a two-hour rally, the protesters broke through a police barricade and spilled into the 12-lane boulevard in front of the embassy. Police rushed to occupy five lanes to keep back the protesters, who hurled dozens of eggs at the building. No serious injuries were reported.
In the past, anti-American protests had usually attracted small numbers of activists. Most of the protesters yesterday were ordinary citizens who ignored South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's warning that anti-Americanism and demands for the withdrawal of U.S. troops hurt South Korea's national interest.
Because of the protest, a delegation of U.S. lawmakers led by Rep. Henry J. Hyde, Illinois Republican, canceled a trip to Seoul yesterday. Mr. Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, "did not want the delegation to become the focal point of demonstrations here," the embassy said in a brief statement.
Mr. Hyde's delegation had planned to fly to Seoul yesterday from Japan.
Protesters distributed leaflets urging citizens not to buy American goods including Coca-Cola, Marlboro cigarettes and McDonald's hamburgers.
News reports said there were also smaller protests in 40 provincial towns across the country and that 50,000 to 100,000 Koreans turned out in all. Police could not confirm the figures.
A six-person vocal group sang a song during the rally in Seoul that was rife with American slogans and a refrain of "Yankee go home."
President Kim maintained that U.S.-Korean ties remain strong.
"The United States is an ally that cooperates with us in keeping the stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula," his spokeswoman said.
U.S. troops fought on the South's side during the 1950-53 Korean War, and 37,000 U.S. soldiers are stationed in South Korea.
The soldiers' acquittals ignited outrage among South Koreans who believe the agreement that oversees the U.S. deployment gives special treatment to the Americans. Protesters said the two men should have been tried in a South Korean court.
Polls show that view is shared by a majority of Koreans who say they will vote in the Dec. 19 presidential election. All candidates have said the accord, which has been revised twice, must be changed again.

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