Angry old man rams his truck into Japanese embassy

Posted on : 2012-07-10 15:30 KST Modified on : 2012-07-10 15:30 KST
Arrested man tells police, “If I die, please cremate me and spread my ashes in the waters off Dokdo”

By Um Ji-won, staff reporter

Already tense relations between South Korea and Japan have taken another blow, this one from the bumper of a truck belonging to an enraged man in his 60s.

According to July 9 reports from Seoul’s Jongno Police Station, a 62-year-old man identified by the surname Kim was arrested for violating the Act on Punishment of Violence, etc, by driving his one-ton truck into the entrance of the embassy in the Junghak neighborhood of the city’s Jongno district. Kim is currently being questioned.

The incident is apparently related to a case from June 18 when a Japanese rightist desecrated a statue of comfort woman in front of the embassy by tying a stake to it with claims that the Dokdo Islets belong to Japan.

No one was hurt in the incident, which left the iron gate to the embassy forced inward by about one meter.

Kim, who transports antiques and artworks by profession and has no fixed residence, attached a banner reading “Dokdo is Korean territory” to his truck before driving it into the gate at around 4:55 am Monday. “Japanese people come to someone else’s country and put stakes into their sculptures, so why can’t I do this in my own country?” police reported him as arguing during his arrest.

The sculpture in question was erected as a monument to comfort women drafted as sexual slaves to the Japanese military during Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea (1910-1945).

Based on their questioning, police ascertained that Kim personally staked out the embassy on June 28, July 2, and July 5 and had a memo in his pocket at the time of the incident. The message read, “I say this to Japan: you deserve divine punishment for your act in driving a stake in front of the statue of the young comfort woman. If I die, please cremate me and spread my ashes in the waters off Dokdo.”

A police official said that the incident cannot be treated lightly because it is connected to diplomatic relations.

The official added that questioning was proceeding with plans to keep Kim in custody while the investigation is carried out.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Osamu Fujimura, said in a press conference Monday morning that Tokyo had made a stern protest to Seoul through diplomatic channels and demanded that steps be taken to ensure no future incidents.

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