S. Korea Police Battle Students Holding Campus
Riot police swarmed into five buildings at Konkuk University this morning, battling about 800 dissident students on the fourth day of a bitter demonstration against the government and the United States.
Hundreds of riot policemen in combat gear charged the five buildings at 8:45 a.m. while police helicopters lobbed tear gas from above and fire engines shot water at the students.
The students retaliated by hurling firebombs, rocks and pieces of furniture. The youths had barricaded most staircases in the buildings, delaying the police assault. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Foreign reporters were forced off the school grounds early this morning, but a live telecast by the state-run Korean Broadcasting System showed scenes of the action.
Helicopters Swoop Low
Two police helicopters were seen swooping low over the roofs of the buildings where the demonstrators had assembled, dropping tear gas canisters and leaflets. Fire-fighting crews raised ladders alongside the four- and five-story buildings, spraying students with high-pressure hoses.
Several thousand riot police were posted in and around the sprawling campus in southeastern Seoul as the operation unfolded under the direction of Lee Yong Chang, chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau.
Lee said all dissident students would be apprehended and those who were leaders in the disturbance would be prosecuted, while others would face summary trials and other punitive measures.
Held Tuesday Rally
The students, said to initially have represented 26 schools in Seoul and some provincial areas, had gathered at Konkuk University on Tuesday for a rally that turned into a violent demonstration and brought clashes with riot police when they sought to move into the streets. After they were driven back into the campus, they seized the five buildings and began a sit-in that included rooftop demonstrations with shouts, leaflets, placards and signs of defiance.
About 2,000 students were reported in the original rally, forming the National Patriotic Students Alliance against “foreign influence and dictatorship” in South Korea.
The protests centered on the government of President Chun Doo Hwan. Student activists and other dissidents long have charged that the government is an illegitimate, repressive regime. It also protested strongly against what it contends is U.S. support for the Seoul government that the dissidents say serves to bolster its power.
On Thursday, the students rejected police orders to end their occupation peacefully. Police had warned they would storm the buildings.
Food, Water Dwindled
Despite dwindling food and water supplies, the students had vowed to continue the occupation against “U.S. imperialists” and the “military dictatorship” of Chun. They demanded the ouster of Chun’s government, the dismantling of nuclear bases and the withdrawal of the 41,000 U.S. troops in South Korea.
Chun, a lieutenant general, became president in 1980, succeeding President Park Chung Hee, who was shot to death Oct. 26, 1979, by the head of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency.
South Korea’s opposition has demanded a constitutional amendment to allow direct presidential elections in 1988, but Chun has resisted. The government and ruling party want a Cabinet type of government headed by a prime minister elected by Parliament. The dispute has erupted into violent demonstrations.
The students want an end to South Korea’s strong anti-communism and support many demands voiced by North Korea--including a call for Seoul and Pyongyang to be co-hosts to the 1988 Olympic Games.