News / Asia

    US Troops in South Korea Under More Scrutiny

    Sergeant Major of the US Army, Raymond Chandler III, speaking to reporters at 8th Army HQ, (Yongsan, Seoul, November 7, 2011)
    Sergeant Major of the US Army, Raymond Chandler III, speaking to reporters at 8th Army HQ, (Yongsan, Seoul, November 7, 2011)

    A series of criminal incidents involving troops and others affiliated with the U.S. military in the country has prompted a renewed curfew for U.S. troops in South Korea. The police and the U.S. 8th Army are at odds over whether the number of such serious incidents is on the rise.

    The U.S. military has extended a curfew for its personnel in South Korea until January 6. This comes after a young U.S. Army private was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a South Korean court for the rape of a high school girl, just north of Seoul.

    A 30-day curfew was implemented on October 7 following the sexual assault and other incidents involving troops, military family members or civilian workers for the U.S. military here.  The off-installation nightly curfew was ordered by the commander of all American forces in the country, Army General James Thurman. His predecessor, General Walter Sharp, who retired earlier this year, lifted, in July 2010, an unpopular curfew which had been in place for nine years.

    Sharp said the time had come to end the restrictions because he believed troops could be trusted to do the right thing. U.S. Eighth Army officials say nearly all of their troops in the country are doing just that.  They contend the number of serious incidents, involving no more than one-tenth of one percent of those falling under the Status of Forces Agreement, has been on the decline.

    However, the National Police Agency in South Korea has released statistics showing a rising number of rapes, robberies, thefts, and other acts of violence committed by the troops and other personnel working for the U.S. military, in the past few years.

    In the past decade, the total number of such incidents in South Korea has been about 225.

    But the crimes involving the U.S. military community sometimes become front-page news in a country where there is a deep seated unease among many about the continuing presence of foreign soldiers on their soil.  The sergeant major of the U.S. Army, Raymond Chandler, acknowledges that criminal incidents by American military personnel overseas tend to get intense scrutiny by those in the host country.

    "Any act of misconduct is bad. And, it doesn't matter where it is or where it happens. When a soldier doesn't do what they're supposed to do,  that's not right" Chandler stated. "It's even magnified or made worse when we're here in someone else's country as their guest."

    Chandler, the senior enlisted member of the Army, is meeting with U.S. and South Korean forces here this week.  His visit comes amid mixed reaction to the 10-year sentence imposed by a South Korean judge last week. It is the most severe ruling imposed on a U.S. service member in the country in 20 years.

    Twenty-year-old Private First Class Kevin Flippin was convicted of breaking into the room of an 16-year-old girl, repeatedly raping, beating and burning her and then stealing the equivalent o $4.50.

    Although the prosecutor and some South Korean civic activist groups demanded an even harsher punishment for the American, some observers - especially U.S. service personnel - contend the soldier, who expressed remorse and had no prior criminal history, received a more severe sentence because he is a foreigner.  Chandler is supporting the tough prison term.

    "This young man was found guilty of a heinous crime against a woman. And, the punishment that he received is well within the bounds of the law and I support that 100 percent," Chandler said.

    The U.S. government has apologized to South Korea for the rape. Another U.S. soldier is also facing sexual assault and theft charges for a mid-September incident in Seoul which allegedly followed a night of drinking in a university area.

    The U.S. military has had a significant presence in South Korea since the armistice halting the civil war on the peninsula in 1953.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora