DP lawmakers say police chief provoked crowd prior to assault
The chief’s decision to enter the crowd before a speech ended has been viewed as ‘excessively bold’
By Yu Sun-hui
29 November 2011
Controversy continues to rage over the assault Saturday on Seoul Jongno Police Station chief Park Geon-chan by participants in a candlelight vigil demonstration against the South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) on Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square.
Members of the Democratic Party who took part in the demonstration contended that the assault was deliberately provoked by Park.
DP Lawmaker Chung Dong-young said Monday that the incident occurred when Park deliberately signaled to him and thrust his way into the crowd during a speech.
Chung explained that he had been sitting with DP lawmakers and party leaders in front of a canvassing van at around 9:30 pm Saturday when a plainclothes officer approached and told him, “The chief wants to talk to you.” Chung answered he would designate a counterpart for dialogue and ascended the podium to make his speech, the lawmaker reported.
Chung’s claim is that Park made his way into the crowd when the speech had not finished and no dialogue participant had been designated.
Another DP lawmaker, Chung Sye-kyun, said, “While the violence was wrong, I have to ask whether the Jongno Police Station chief behaved appropriately.”
Park “basically leapt into a fire carrying a bundle of straw,” Chung said.
“The correct determination is that the Jongno Police Station chief behaved is an excessively bold manner,” Chung added.
“I would prefer it if people did not excessively play up” the assault, he also said.
A Korean National Police Agency (KNPA) official quoted Park as saying he had contacted Chung Dong-young and Democratic Labor Party Chairwoman Lee Jung-hee at around 9:15 to 9:20 p.m., but that there was no definite response.
“He merely thought that as the chief of the presiding police station exercising his public duty, he should be able to go [meet the opposition party chairs] even without a promise from them to meet with him,” the official said.
The Hankyoreh attempted several times without success to contact Park by telephone for his account.