ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on June 13th, 2008 at 2:21 am

GI Flashback: The 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident

» by in: USFK

Prelude to Tragedy
On the morning of June 13th, 2002 it was just another hard day of training for the soldiers of Bravo Company, 44th Engineer Battalion, who were part of the US military’s premier combat unit in Korea, the Second Infantry Division (2ID). The 2ID is the lone US combat division stationed on the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and is responsible for maintaining a credible combat deterrent to any possible North Korean aggression. A major part of maintaining a credible combat deterrent is to make sure soldiers are properly trained in both individual and collective soldier skills and that they have confidence in the equipment they use. In order to develop these skills and confidence much of a soldiers’ time while stationed in Korea is comprised of field training exercises that can last for weeks at a time.

The soldiers of Bravo Company were participating in one of the routinely scheduled brigade level exercise that are conducted to evaluate a unit’s combat readiness that is so critical to ensuring a credible combat deterrent is being kept by the Second Infantry Division. Bravo Company had been in the field for two weeks conducting continuous operations and that morning the engineers were under orders to travel to the Twin Bridges Training Area (TBTA) to link up with a mechanized infantry unit in order to participate in an expected training event there. Twin Bridges is one of the most heavily used training areas in the Second Infantry Division and most soldiers in the division are quite familiar with it. The engineers that morning prepared their equipment and began their move down Highway 56 to the training area.

Google Earth image of convoy route to Twin Bridges from accident site.

Much like the soldiers of Bravo Company, Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun, both 13 year-old middle school students, were also beginning a typical day. They had both agreed to meet up and walk to a nearby restaurant in order to attend a friend’s birthday party being held there. As the girls were walking down the road and the engineers moved west down Highway 56, none of them had any idea that the events of this day would become one of the defining moments of the US-ROK alliance that is still causing ripple effects to this day.

Tragedy Strikes

Highway 56, like most of the highways in the 2ID area of operations north of Seoul, is a very narrow road with many blind corners and no shoulders. This highway is heavily used by both the American and Korean militaries to access training areas located adjacent to the highway. Bravo Company and other units had been travelling down the road all week due to the major training exercise. The engineers’ were organized themselves in a convoy with the company commander CPT Mason in a HMMWV (High Mobility Multi-Wheeled Vehicle) leading the convoy, followed by a M113 tracked vehicle and then the five largest vehicles in the convoy, M60A1 AVLB (Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge) who were followed by another HMMWV bringing up the rear of the convoy.

The AVLB driver is on the left side of the vehicle. Notice the blind spot caused by the bridge laying aparatus.

All was fine until about 20 minutes into the movement when the convoy reached a particularly narrow portion of the highway that featured a turn that sloped up a hill. As the Bravo Company convoy travelled up the hill another convoy of M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles was moving towards the Bravo Company convoy from the other direction. The engineers would find out later that this convoy of Bradleys were in fact the very ones they were travelling to meet up with. The appearance of this convoy would ultimately lead to a perfect storm of events that would that end with deadly consequences.

The lead HMMWV with CPT Mason in it saw the Bradleys coming down the opposite lane of the highway as well as seeing two young Korean girls walking along the white line on the shoulder of the road. The actions of CPT Mason at this critical moment would come under much scrutiny later on. The commander of the M113, Staff Sergeant (SSG) Murray, was directly behind Mason’s HMMWV and he saw the on coming convoy and the two girls as well. He immediately turned around and signalled to the AVLB behind him with his arms crossed to warn the vehicle commander of the impending danger.

Picture of the accident site. Notice how the road has no shoulder for pedestrians.

The driver of the AVLB Sergeant (SGT) Mark Walker saw the Bradleys coming down the left side of the road, but could not see the two girls walking on the right side of the road due to the shape and design of the AVLB that blocked the driver’s vision to his right. The commander of the AVLB, SGT Fernando Nino who was seated above Walker was overall responsible for directing the movement of the vehicle. He did see someone with a red shirt walking along the side of the road and tried to radio to SGT Walker to stop the vehicle. Due to the noise made by a large tracked vehicle like an AVLB, the vehicle’s driver and commander can only communicate through radio head-sets that are wired to each other in the vehicle. When SGT Nino tried to communicate his warning to Walker, there was a failure with the internal radio and Walker could not hear Nino’s warning because of cross talk on the radio[ii].

Example communications microphone system used by US military.

The AVLB has a width of 3.67 meters and the right lane of the highway they were travelling on was 3.7 meters wide. Walker moved the AVLB slightly to the right in order to give his AVLB more room between him and the on coming convoy of Bradleys. This simple reaction would become something that both men in the AVLB and everybody involved in the convoy that day would regret for the rest of their lives.

Reacting to Tragedy
SSG Murray sitting on top of the M113 in front of the AVLB was unfortunate enough to have a perfect view of the tragedy that had unfolded. As Walker maneuvered the AVLB to the right hand shoulder of the road he had inadvertently struck and ran over Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun who had very nearly made it to the restaurant to attend their friend’s birthday party when tragedy struck. Murray told his driver Specialist (SPC) Joshua Ray to immediately radio CPT Mason in the lead HMMWV. CPT Mason did not respond and SPC Ray increased the speed of the M113 in order to stop the lead HMMWV and report what happened to CPT Mason.

CPT Mason’s HMMWV and SSG Murray’s M113 pulled over in the parking lot of a near by restaurant. A tearful Murray told Mason what he had saw happen. Ray wanted to rush to the scene with a first aid kit, but Murray told him it was no use, he knew nothing could be done to aid the two girls.

School pictures of Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun.

As ambulances and local police arrived on the scene the busy highway became snarled with traffic and the accompanying sounds of angry motorists thinking that the road was blocked by yet another broken down army vehicle, which is not a uncommon sight in the 2ID area, instead of being the scene of a great tragedy that it was.

As the scene continued to grow a woman from the restaurant came out to see what the commotion was all about. When she found out what was happening she was shocked because her daughter had been waiting for two of her friends to come to her birthday party at the restaurant. She went back into the restaurant and the father of one of the girls then rushed out to the scene of the accident. He like everyone else at the scene was devastated by what had happened. There was no Americans or Koreans that day, just people saddened and at a loss of words at the tragedy that unfolded. It is too bad that such a unity in grief and sorrow would not last.

The Initial US Military Response
The day after the tragedy the commander of the Eighth United States Army at the time General Daniel Zanini, which is the higher headquarters for the Second Infantry Division, immediately apologized the day of the incident and vowed to conduct a thorough investigation in conjunction with Korean authorities of what happened[iii]. In the coming days the families of the two victims would be visited by the commander of the 2ID, Major General Russel Honore.

Former 2ID commander General Honore

General Honore would a few years later become more famously known for being the tough, talking General that commanded the military relief operation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Long before his hurricane fame, General Honore was dealing with a tragedy in Korea that may not have done the physical destruction of a Hurricane Katrina, but threatened to cause far more political destruction than even the fall out after the botched hurricane response.

General Honore apologized, accepted full responsibility for the accident, and offered the families an initial solation payment of one million won (about US $1,000) which is a normal Korean custom in response to such an accident. General Honore also vowed that an agreement would be reached according to Korean law to determine the overall sum of compensation payment to be given to the family since clearly 2ID was at fault for the accident.

2ID soldiers attend candle light vigil in memory of Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun.

Other efforts organized by 2ID in the wake of the accident, was a candle light vigil by the soldiers to express the grief of the division over the accident that was also used as a charity event to raise money for the victim’s families. The soldiers raised $22,000 from this effort that went to the families. Future fundraising drives would total another $30,000 that would be used to build a memorial in memory of the lives of the two girls[iv]. To this day I have never met a Korean yet that knows about these fundraising efforts immediately after the accident by the soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division.

Korean NGO’s Mobilize
For years Korean non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) have been chipping away at the fabric of the US-ROK alliance by finding issues to demagogue and then using effective media coverage to influence public perceptions about USFK. Many of the leaders of these groups were from the pro-Democracy movement of the 1980’s and many of them have spent time in South Korean jails at various times. These leaders blamed the US for the country’s tacit support of various military dictators that ruled the country in the past. It was illegal in South Korea to openly protest against the United States thus these pro-Democracy activists used the concept of creating NGO’s in order to mask their true anti-US intentions. A perfect example of this is a group named Green Korea, which was formed to advocate for environmental protection in Korea. However, the group very rarely advocates for any environmental causes outside of protesting US military camps for alleged environmental abuses.

Koreans protest outside US military base. Involving children is a common protest tactic.

These groups had been looking for a cause that they could rally the majority of the Korean general public around for years. The causes they had advocated before were effective to a degree but none of them truly mobilized the general public against USFK. This all changed on June 13, 2002. These anti-US groups could not have asked for a better issue to demagogue than the accident on Highway 56. Just days after the accident the anti-US groups were protesting outside of US military installations and demanding that the soldiers involved in the accident be tried in Korean courts.

On June 27, 2002 the anti-US activist groups waged a medium size protest of an estimated 200 people outside the Second Infantry Division headquarters at Camp Red Cloud in the city of Uijongbu. The protesters launched a well-planned assault on the camp in the hopes of creating effective propaganda images of US soldiers beating Korean civilians.

The protest organizers had set up a tent along the camp’s fence line that was supposed to serve as a place for people to sign a petition. However, the tent’s real purpose was to serve as cover for a group of activists who were at the back of the tent cutting a hole in the fence line. Once the hole was cut a pre-selected group of activists flooded through the hole and into Camp Red Cloud. The students marched through the main street of the camp chanting anti-US slogans and holding banners. They marched to the front gate where they confronted the US force protection guards there manning the gate. As the guards confronted the protesters to remove them from the camp the protesters chained themselves together to make the mass of protesters harder to move.

Additionally many of the protesters that had infiltrated into the camp were women. The anti-US group organizers had hoped to capture film of US soldiers striking over reacting and striking the protesters to remove them from the camp. The groups had cameramen positioned on rooftops of high apartments overlooking the camp and with bird’s eye views of the front gate. If any of these cameramen could get footage of a US soldier striking one of these protesters, preferably a female they would have won a massive propaganda victory for their efforts.

Korean protesters through objects over the CRC fence in June 2002.

To further provoke the Camp Red Cloud guards a second group of protesters infiltrated along the heavily forested western fence line of the camp and cut another hole to enter the camp through. Now the camp’s guards faced infiltrators on two fronts. US soldiers rushed to apprehend the protesters and seal the hole in the fence line. It is at this hole that the protest turned particularly violent.

The US soldiers who responded to the hole in the western fence line used shields and baton to stop the flow of protesters into the camp. As they sealed the hole with their shields the protesters continued to try and push themselves through the shields. As they did this, another group of protesters threw rocks and chunks of concrete over the fence at the US soldiers in order to get them to raise their shields to protect themselves thus exposing their bodies to attack from the mob trying to get through the fence. Due to this violent stand off on the western fence line, nine US soldiers had to be hospitalized for serious injuries after the protest.

With the help of the Korean National Police the US force protection personnel were able to remove all the protesters from the camp without the anti-US groups winning a large propaganda victory. However, this didn’t stop the Korean media from sympathizing and sensationalizing what happened at Camp Red Cloud that day.

The Korea Times newspaper on June 27th reported:

“Two reporters affiliated with an Internet news firm have been under arrest since Wednesday evening on charges of trespassing on territory occupied by US military facilities, local police in Uijongbu said yesterday. Police officers are also examining the claims by some witnesses that the two reporters were beaten with clubs and dragged in chains as they were being taken into US military police custody.”

The “reporters” in question are in fact simply administrators of anti-US websites who helped cut down the fences and infiltrated into the camp. Notice how the Korea Times makes no mention that the protesters in fact chained themselves and instead leaves the reader to believe the US military chained and beat the people including these “reporters” who infiltrated into the camp. Unsurprisingly absent from the Korean media reporting of the Camp Red Cloud protest was that nine US soldiers had to be treated in a hospital due to injuries sustained from the anti-US protesters throwing concrete blocks at them.

US soldier injured by Korean protesters is evacuated.

The absurdity of these claims reached a crescendo when on July 8th the Korean Human Right’s Commission demanded to interrogate the US military policemen who arrested the protesters for breaking into the camp. When USFK would not turn over the military policemen the Human Rights Commission fined USFK.

However, overall these groups at the time were receiving very little media and public attention in the days after the accident because Korea was co-hosting the 2002 World Cup with Japan. The World Cup had the full attention of the Korean media and public due to the fact that the Korean team was in the midst of a stunning winning streak that ended in the World Cup semi-finals. The Korean soccer team’s amazing performance had brought nationalism in the country to an all time high that may never be surpassed. The anti-US groups may have failed to draw attention to their cause in June, but by July these groups were well prepared to capitalize on this rise in nationalism that would ultimately change the course of US-ROK relations forever.

Influence of the New Internet Media
In July the anti-US groups began to launch larger and more violent protests against USFK. The most heated protests were outside the two main camps of the Second Infantry Division, the largest installation, Camp Casey in Dongducheon and the division headquarters on Camp Red Cloud in Uijongbu.

In July, the anti-US groups began to launch an effective propaganda campaign on college campuses across the nation in order to swell their ranks during planned protests that month. They were able to do this through not only the common means of word of mouth and flyers, but through the use of internet message boards and text messaging as well. Korea is considered the world’s “most wired” country and internet cafes filled with youths spending hours at a time on the internet can be found in even the smallest towns. Nearly every South Korean walks around with cell phone, even children as young as seven years old can be seen walking and talking on a cell phone. Harnessing modern technology to spread the NGOs’ anti-US message would be easy the part, but creating a message that would mobilize the masses would prove to be the hard part.

Wanted posters distributed for capture of “US killers” involved in the accident.

Simply telling the truth about what happened on that road side that fateful June morning along Highway 56 would not be enough to cause the general public to join the anti-US groups’ cause to expel USFK from Korea. Instead of the truth to mobilize the masses, the NGOs had to create a perception, and the perception they chose to create was one of a great injustice against the Korean people that everyone could identify with. The NGOs launched a propaganda campaign centered around creating an image of evil, non-apologetic American GI’s mercilessly running over two angelic school girls on their way to a birthday party and getting away with it. This image is so powerful because Koreans love their children just like any culture, but it was also equating the US military with the Japanese Imperial Army that colonized the Korean peninsula prior to the country’s liberation after World War II. Due to this sometime extremely brutal colonial period, many Koreans today still hold a very bitter grudge against the Japanese. The fact that the Eighth United States Army headquarters is based out of Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, which used to be the headquarters of the old Imperial Japanese military only helped to feed this perception. It would be an easy leap of logic for someone in Korea to conclude that the Japanese had disrespected and brutalized Korea than and the US military is doing it now.

Additionally Korea is a homogeneous society that instinctively groups together against any slight made against the country by foreigners. A perfect example of this is when American late night comedian Jay Leno made a joke about how Koreans like to eat dogs. This simple joke was taken by many in Korea to be a racist attack against the nation by America and the fall out from this joke lasted for weeks with demands for apologies from the comedian[v]. The NGOs knew the attitudes of the general Korean public very well and they had a strategy to take advantage of the attitudes of their Korean audience. They had already decided on a perception they wanted to create about the accident and how they were going to spread it; the only thing they needed to do was figure out how to present this message so it seemed plausible to the general public.

The NGOs decided by spreading simple disinformation through the Internet about what happened would be the most plausible way to implement their strategy. Stories on internet message boards spread about how the American soldiers had intentionally ran over the two girls[vi]. The most famous story that made its way around all the Korean internet message boards was how the US soldiers in the convoy that day were laughing at the fact that they had ran over the two girls. The laughing so angered KATUSA (Korean Augmentee to the US Army) soldiers serving with the unit that they started a fight with the laughing soldiers. This story is not supported by any of the witnesses that were at the scene that day and additionally no one can produce the KATUSA soldiers that were allegedly involved in the fight. Despite the lack of evidence to support the claim that KATUSA soldiers fought with laughing GIs that day, it is still a common belief among many Koreans that this story is in fact true[vii].

As the misinformation spread, almost over night hundreds of websites dedicated to Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun were set up by Koreans who felt legitimate grief over what happened and demanded justice against the evil, unapologetic GIs who they felt had murdered these two girls.

Response of Major Korean Media Outlets
The initial response of the major Korean news outlets after the accident, had at first been marginal with newspapers publishing short articles about what happened and was largely ignored by the major television broadcasters[viii]. However, by July the major media could join the anti-US feeding frenzy that was already raging on-line because the thousands of foreign visitors and media representatives to Korea who had attended the World Cup had already departed. With the world’s attention away from Korea the major media outlets were poised to take advantage of this tragedy just like the on-line media had in the weeks right after the accident.

One of the common themes in the media was that even though the US military apologized for the accident, the apology was not “sincere”[ix]. After the accident every commanding US general in USFK issued an apology after the accident happened, the US Ambassador apologized[x], an initial solation payment was made to the family, a candle light vigil by US soldiers was held, and a fundraising drive was initiated that raised $22,000 for the girl’s families and another $30,000 for a memorial in their honor. Despite all this, the Korean media declares the US military’s response insincere. Incredibly even President Bush would later go on and apologize for the accident[xi].

Before long the misinformation being put out was not limited to internet message boards and print newspapers, but was on the average Korean’s television screen as well. The networks repeated much of what was already available on-line and is wasn’t too long before the networks produced sensational misinformation of their own making. The most infamous example of misinformation was when the major news network MBC aired footage of someone claiming to be a former Korean Army tank driver who was able to “prove” in an interview that the American soldiers in the AVLB intentionally ran over the girls and then ground guided the vehicle back over the bodies again to make sure they were dead. This interview entered into the common mythology of what happened that even to this day, much like the KATUSA story, many Koreans believe this story to be true.

The print media as well repeated much of what was on-line, but also focused repeatedly on the “one-sided” SOFA Agreement[xii]. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the US and South Korea lays out the legal framework of how US soldiers handled when crimes are committed in South Korea. Under the SOFA American military personnel in Korea can be charged, tried, and imprisoned under Korean law for crimes committed off duty. For crimes committed on duty these crimes would be handled by US military authorities. Since the accident on Highway 56 happened while SGT Walker and SGT Nino were on duty they do not fall under Korean law.

The Korean newspapers focused their disinformation on claiming repeatedly that no US soldiers have ever been tried in Korean courts because of the “unfair SOFA Agreement”. The newspapers continued to hype how US soldiers were allowed to commit all these crimes against Koreans and then fly back home due to the big, bad SOFA. The facts of the matter is that US soldiers that have committed crimes while off duty have in fact been tried in Korean courts and imprisoned in Korean jails since the 1960s, yet none of this information ever made it into the Korean media. To this day there are people in Korea who think that US soldiers are tried presently in Korean courts due only to the fall out from the 2002 armoured vehicle accident, when in fact they have been tried in Korean courts for decades.

Those newspapers that were at least intellectually honest enough to distinguish between crimes committed on duty and off, tried to use a 1957 decision by the United States military to allow the prosecution of a soldier who had shot and killed a Japanese woman while on duty in Japanese courts. However, what the media would not point out is that the soldier intentionally murdered the Japanese female and was rightfully handed over to the Japanese authorities for prosecution compared to the two USFK soldiers who were involved in a traffic accident.

Such sensationalism by the Korean media over this accident really should not have been unexpected. Korean journalists do not report the news in the sense that people in West expect. Citizens from western countries expect their news outlets to serve as a check and balance on the government and big business and provide factually based news. In Korea the media often reports what the government and big business want reported as well as what British journalist Michael Breen calls, “speculation, trial balloons, rumour, and deliberate distortions”[xiii] in the name of ratings.

Signs went up around Korea banning Americans from entering into restaurants and businesses.

The sensationalism by the Korean media of the armoured vehicle accident was made quite clear when on June 29, 2002 North Korean patrol boats deliberately ambushed a South Korean Naval vessel patrolling the maritime border between the two countries. Six South Korean sailors died in the attack and the South Korean government, NGOs, and media did everything possible to minimize the deliberate murder of six South Korean sailors while continuing to sensationalize the accidental death of the two school girls[xiv]. The hypocrisy is quite stunning but when it comes to the Korean media they could care less about hypocrisy and more about ratings and sensationalism of the Highway 56 traffic accident was bringing in those ratings. There would be plenty more sensationalism to come.

The slander and accusations against USFK continued to fly both on the web and through the television networks. The tragic accident had taken on a life of its own as the major media outlets competed with the new start up internet media sites in their rush to condemn these soldiers for murder. The propaganda against USFK would become so effective that US soldiers were being assaulted and spat upon on the streets of Seoul with waiting Korean news cameramen recording it all for the nation to see[xv]. Signs went up all around Seoul refusing service to Americans in restaurants, hotels, and businesses. Massive rallies were held where demonstrators burned and tore American flags.

US soldiers kidnapped, beaten, and forced to make false statements denouncing the US government on Korean TV.

Probably the most blatant example of anti-US hate was when three US soldiers on a Seoul subway were assaulted by Korean protesters travelling to a rally on university campus. The protesters beat the soldiers and then abducted them from the subway car and began dragging them towards the anti-US demonstration. Korean policemen were able to free two of the soldiers but the third soldier was dragged into the demonstration held at the university’s sports stadium. He was threatened and forced to make coerce statements against the US by the demonstrators and make forced apologies. Despite everything that happened to them, the soldiers were charged with assault by the Korean police[xvi].

It wouldn’t be long before such irrational behaviour and actions would influence the South Korean political climate as well.

Politicizing the Tragedy
In the summer of 2002, Korea was in the middle of a heated presidential election that year. With the NGOs and the major media taking advantage of the accident it was only natural that the politicians running for president would do so as well. Instead of responsible leadership from the Korean government mediating between the media, the public, and USFK to stop the exploitation of this tragedy; the Korean politicians in fact encouraged it and made it even worse. None of the politicians wanted to be accused by their opponents of being a lap dog of the US, so it quickly became a political race to see who could bash the US more.

Former Korean President Roh Moo-hyun

A little known human rights lawyer, Roh Moo-hyun began to attract popular attention with his populist anti-American rants and slogans that began to strike a cord with the general Korean people. Roh who had little political experience and did not even graduate from college became a serious contender for the highest office in the country simply because he ran on a platform of being more anti-American than all the other contenders.

Example of narrow roads that remain near military training areas today.

The Korean politicians had more than just political agendas to advance with their demagoguery of the 2002 armored vehicle accident. The politicians also had to deflect blame as well.Much of the infrastructure in the northern Kyongi Province where 2ID is located had not kept up with South Korea’s rapid economic progress. Massive highways, bridges, and tunnels can be found all over South Korea to the south of Seoul however, few of these infrastructure improvements can be found in the 2ID area. Most of the roads in the 2ID are extremely small, not well maintained, and heavily used by both the American and Korean militaries as well as many civilian vehicles and pedestrians. Despite the heavy use of these roads very few of them even have a shoulder for a broken down vehicle to park on or even a sidewalk for civilians to walk on. Accidents involving the US military as well as the Korean military are not uncommon due to the conditions and do lead to fatalities[xvii].

The Court Martial
Probably the most significant and biggest mistake made in the handling of the 2002 armoured vehicle accident was that the USFK commanding General Leon LaPorte decided to court martial both SGT Nino and SGT Walker. Since the accident happened while the two sergeants were on duty they were not subject to Korean law due to the US-ROK Status of Forces Agreement, and thus the investigation of the accident along with any potential charges against them would be handled by the US military. All though the Korean authorities had no jurisdiction over the case, USFK had the Korean police investigate the scene with them and kept the Korean authorities and media fully briefed on what was going on. Five months after the accident the Korean National Police concurred with USFK investigators that the deaths of the two girls was an accident[xviii].

Out of the 30 nations that compose the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Korea ranked as the most dangerous place to drive[xix]. The data gathered from 2003 just one year after the armoured vehicle accident showed that Korea had 137 car accidents per 10,000 vehicles on the road. Additionally for every 100,000 people involved in a traffic accident, 15 people died. Each statistic topped the OECD’s rankings. Probably the most dubious statistic is that Korea ranked first in the OECD in traffic related child deaths. 82 children died every day in Korea with 70 percent of those accident involving children walking alongside a road[xx].

Perfect example of how a narrow road is made even more dangerous due to civilian activity.

As the statistics show, a tragic accident like what happened in June 2002 is not uncommon in Korea and the reasons for these accidents happening has nothing to do with the US military and the Korean police who helped investigate the tragedy realized this. That is why the police concluded with the USFK investigators that this was a tragic accident like many other tragic accidents involving children in Korea; the only difference was that this one involved the US military.

The NGO’s involved in the protests against USFK after the accident could care less about promoting traffic safety in Korea to prevent accidents like what happened in June 2002 from happening anywhere else in Korea. All these groups were interested in was promoting their anti-US agendas. These people have little concern about the welfare of Korean children killed every year on Korean roads and if Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun were killed by a Korean vehicle these groups would be shedding no tears and could care less.

After the results of the initial investigation were released these anti-US groups immediately started declaring it was a cover up. The claims of a cover up in Korea is very easy for the general public to believe because for decades the ruling Korean dictators had often covered up many crimes and scandals caused by the government. Even though democracy has come to Korea the old beliefs of government cover ups, especially involving USFK are easy to believe.

Korean NGOs demanded that USFK hand over the two soldiers to be tried in Korean courts despite their SOFA status. This demand was especially hypocritical considering that due to Article 2 of the Korean Military Court Act, the Korean military has jurisdiction over all crimes committed by their servicemembers whether they were off duty or not[xxi]. The fact that ROK military personnel never stand trial in Korean courts is an inconvenient fact that many Koreans would rather not acknowledge. A USFK servicemember on the other hand is subject to Korean civilian court for any crime committed while off duty. With the differences in jurisdiction between the Korean and American militaries, it makes you wonder that if the Korean civilian judicial system is not good enough for the Korean military than why should it be good enough to try American soldiers in? This is an inconvenient fact that is left unaddressed by the anti-US groups and their media allies. The hypocrisy is stunning, but like I said before hypocrisy is of little significance in Korea.

SGT Walker and his defense lawyer ambushed by the Korean media. 

Probably the most stunning hypocrisy of the SOFA criticism is the fact that the Korean military has status of forces agreements with every nation that is host to deployed South Korean military personnel. In these SOFAs, the ROK Army has primary jurisdiction of crimes committed by their soldiers both on and off duty. A couple of recent examples of when the ROK military’s SOFA was activated were both in Iraq and involved the deployment of the ROK Army’s Zaytun Division outside the Kurdish capitol city of Irbil. In the first case a South Korean soldier was playing with his rifle when an accidental discharge killed a nearby Kurdish soldier[xxii].

The SOFA was activated and the Korean soldier was handled by a ROK military court martial. In 2006 a Korean soldier driving a military truck was involved in a traffic accident where he caused the death of a 53 year old Kurdish politician. Once again the South Korean military activated their SOFA. This is what Colonel Ha Du-cheol told reporters after the accident, “The traffic accident occurred in the line of duty, so we are seeking ways to compensate the victim’s family.”[xxiii] Sound familiar? It should because it is the same thing the US military did after the 2002 armoured vehicle accident, which these groups were demanding SOFA revisions for. However, when a nearly identical situation happens with a Korean soldier it receives a small passage in the newspaper and no righteous indignation from anyone complaining about an unequal SOFA between Korea and Kurdistan.

The Korean military has never allowed one of their soldiers to be tried in a foreign host nation’s civilian courts, which shouldn’t be surprising considering that Korean soldiers do not even stand trial in civilian courts in their own country. Despite all of these inconvenient facts the anti-US groups and their media allies have the nerve to condemn USFK for an unfair status of forces agreement.

Despite the sheer hypocrisy of the demands, USFK Commander General LaPorte in an attempt to placate these groups and appease Korean public sentiment, ordered the two US soldiers court martialled for negligent homicide in the hope that if all the facts were laid out during the trial; everyone would see that USFK was not conducting a cover up. General LaPorte was new to the job and probably did not understand Korean customs very well. In Korea when a traffic accident happens that involves a fatality a solation payment is made to the family of the deceased. In accordance with Korean customs and in coordination with the Korean Justice Ministry, before the court martial was announced, USFK issued a compensation payment of $147,820 American dollars to each of the victim’s families[xxiv]. In a typical traffic accident in Korea the compensation payment and apologies would have been enough to settle the dispute.

When General LaPorte made the decision to court martial the two sergeants, it only aggravated the situation because court trials in Korea are not perceived like trials in the US are. Korea is not a “rule of law” country and is instead a “rule by law” country[xxv]. So when someone goes on trial in Korea the expectation is that the person is guilty to begin with; the trial is just a determination of how guilty the person really is. This sentiment is best expressed in a Chosun Ilbo editorial that declared: “Although we had not expected much, we had hoped that the US martial court might reach a verdict that showed a little understanding of Korean sentiment. That hope turned out to be misplaced.”[xxvi] As shown by this article what mattered most to the general Korean population was “Korean sentiment” that the soldiers were guilty, not any concerns of an open and fair trial to determine the facts of what happened that day.

50,000 Korean protesters tear up American flags before 2002 Korean presidential election.

By putting the two sergeants on trial General LaPorte had already declared to the general Korean public that the two sergeants were guilty. When the two sergeants were acquitted of all charges it played right into the anti-US group’s claims of a cover up. The acquittals just led to more protests, bad publicity, political demagoguery, and violence against American military personnel stationed in Korea.

Following the court martial, both SGT Walker and SGT Nino were flown back to the United States and both eventually left the Army[xxvii]. Four leaders within the engineering unit involved in the accident were disciplined by the US military. The commander CPT Mason, the first sergeant, platoon sergeant, and platoon leader all received written letters of reprimand from General Honore for not following traffic safety procedures, which effectively ended their careers[xxviii].

In a letter to the editor of the Stars & Stripes SPC Joshua Ray who was the driver of the AVLB in front of the one involved in accident stated that their commander CPT Mason has ignored safety measures by driving the large vehicle on the road where the accident happened as well as not giving soldiers in the unit enough sleep before departing on the convoy[xxix]. The points Ray brings up in the article are not unique to this engineer unit. During this timeframe 2nd Infantry Division trained heavily in the field and conducted “tactical movements” on civilian roads from one training area to the next. As Ray brings up in his article such “tactical movements” in civilian areas would never happen in the United States.

However, in the United States, military units usually do not have to travel through civilian areas to get to a training area because the training areas are often located adjacent to the military base. In Korea long convoys of both wheeled and tracked vehicles have to be conducted on civilian roads to get to training areas, with many of these roads being quite narrow and passing through small towns[xxx]. In the United States a tracked vehicle would never travel on a civilian road for any reason, in Korea it was common.

A 2001 image of one of my unit’s bradleys traveling through a densely populated Korean village.

From my own personal experience I know how dangerous these convoys can be. I have led multiple convoys of Bradleys before during my time in Korea around the timeframe and even on the very road in question that the accident happened. Korean civilians in the 2nd Infantry Division area grow up around the large military equipment and have lost respect for how dangerous the equipment can be. It was a common sight back then to see Korean civilians walking on the white line on the side of the road despite heavy armoured vehicles and tanks coming down the road behind them. They would simply continue to walk on the white line with the hands over their ears to muffle the sounds of the passing tanks.

My unit had plenty of close calls with one incident I especially remember when my Bradley was driving through the densely populated city of Pocheon and a lady talking on a cell phone walked in front of my Bradley. I yelled at my driver to stop over the intercom and fortunately he stopped in time to not hit the woman who simply looked up in surprise to see a Bradley coming at her when we were barely able to stop in time from hitting her. How she remained oblivious to a 25 ton hulk of metal driving down Highway 43 is beyond me?

Unlike the SGT Nino and SGT Walker’s AVLB, my internal communications in the Bradley worked. However, it is not uncommon for these radios to go out during a convoy. 25 tons of metal bumping around on a road has the tendency to cause things to shake things out of place. That is why my unit had an SOP of at least every minute saying something over the radio to the driver to ensure communications are still working. There was a time my internal communications went out during a convoy and I started throwing candies from the turret at the open hatch of my driver to get his attention. This was our standard operating procedure to stop because it meant our communications went out and it worked the one time we had to use it.

Pedestrians and communications failures weren’t the only danger on these convoys, impatient civilian drivers were also a source of much concern. A convoy of Bradleys on a civilian road is a long, slow movement. The convoy is usually travelling around 20 miles per hour. Civilian vehicles would try to pass our convoys on blind turns and other areas where they cannot see oncoming traffic. The most dangerous civilian vehicles were the buses because they would try and pass a Bradley and then have an on coming car coming and then the bus would then merge right sometimes forcing Bradleys on to the shoulder of the road to avoid an accident. Many of my peers and I felt that it was only a matter of time before a tragic accident happens and were actually surprised it hadn’t happened already.

Highway 56 Accident Memorial built with funds raised by the soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the US military was not the only ones to use tracked vehicles on these roads. The Korean Army actually used these roads much more than the US military due to their much larger force footprint in the area. I have personally seen for myself tracked Korean Army vehicles in accidents with civilian vehicles[xxxi]. The dangers of driving on Korean roads in the 2ID area of operations was danger faced by both militaries.

To make matters worse is that many of these roads with heavy civilian traffic and pedestrians in the 2ID area are small and narrow and should not have tracked vehicles on them in the first place. The stretch of road on Highway 56 where the accident occurred is a perfect example of one of these poorly built roads, because there was no shoulder or sidewalk for the girls to walk on to avoid traffic. It is clear that USFK bears responsibility for what happened that day, but the US military shouldn’t be the only ones held accountable for what happened that day.

With such poor road conditions in the 2ID area that were posing a risk to civilians, why had the Korean government not done anything to expand the roads or even add sidewalks along roads with heavy military traffic? This is a question Korean politicians do not want to answer. A simple sidewalk along that road would have saved those two girls lives that day. Because of this fact it was in the interest of the Korean government to deflect any responsibility for what happened solely on the US military.

Site of the accident today. Notice how the government has since widened the road and added a sidewalk.

Also since the accident the Korean government has quietly begun expanding roads and adding sidewalks in the 2ID area in order to prevent future accidents. However, this is all too little to late for Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun. These two girls tragically became the victims of something that could have been easily prevented. If Korean societal attitudes were different (pedestrians not giving way for military vehicles), if the Korean government expanded roads and sidewalks, if the breakdown in basic safety measures within the unit did not happen, and finally if the internal communications systems of the AVLB worked properly these two girls would be alive today. It is a shame that everyone involved with this accident will have to live with for the rest of their lives.

Another shame from the aftermath of the tragedy is the wilful demagoguery and manipulation of this accident by Korean NGOs and politicians to advance their own agendas. The US military had sacrificed over 37,000 lives during the Korean War and had been helping maintain security on the Korean peninsula for over 50 years which was directly responsible for setting conditions for the economic miracle that took place in Korea. Despite all the US military has done for the Republic of Korea, not one person in the Korean government had the moral courage to mediate what happened and instead they all competed to see who can demagogue the accident the most for their own domestic political purposes. With his anti-US platform and the aid of the media, Roh Moo-hyun would prove he was the biggest demagogue of them all, by going on to win a narrow victory in the 2002 presidential election[xxxii]. Incredibly the aftermath of the June 2002 armoured vehicle accident had been enough to elect a political nobody to the presidency of South Korea.

Next Posting: Top Five Lessons Learned from the Tragedy

Related Posting: Scenes of the Highway 56 Memorial and accident site.

Recommended Reading: USFK Accident & Anti-American Orgy

Note: I am trying to make this posting as accurate as possible a depiction of what really happened on June 13, 2002 in order to disspell the number of Internet rumors and urban myths surrounding this accident. If you were a member of the unit involved in the accident please leave a comment to further clarify exactly what happened that day. Likewise if people have any more information about the Korean and USFK reactions to the accident please feel free to leave a comment as well. Please save any comments for USFK recommendations for the upcoming posting. Thanks.

Joshua Ray, Korean Mediator,, accessed 10 July 2007

Joshua Ray was a member of the unit involved in the accident and he recounts the convoy and what happened that day on both his blog and a follow up Stars & Stripes article he wrote.

[ii] Jeon Ick-jin, “Radio Blamed for Accident”, Joong Ang Ilbo, 06 August 2002,

[iii] “Lee Ho-jeong, “US Vehicle Kills Two Korean Teens”, Joong Ang Ilbo newspaper, 14 June 2002,

[iv] “USFK Statement on Highway 56 Accident”, US Embassy Korea press release, 27 July 2002,

[v] Donald Kirk, “America on Thin Ice In Korea”, International Herald Tribune, 01 March 2002,

[vi] Jennifer Veale, “Just the Facts”, Foreign Policy, January/February 2007,

[vii] “USFK Statement on Highway 56 Accident”, US Embassy Korea press release, 27 July 2002,

[viii] “Lee Ho-jeong, “US Vehicle Kills Two Korean Teens”, Joong Ang Ilbo newspaper, 14 June 2002,

[ix] “Clear Up US Army Tragedy”, Joong Ang Ilbo, 04 July 2002,

[x] Lee Chul-jae, “US Ambassador Apologizes for Deaths of Girls in June Accident”, Joong Ang Ilbo, 30 July 2002,

[xi] Min Seong-jae, “US Envoy Extends Apology from Bush”, Joong Ang Ilbo, 28 November 2002,

[xii] “Clear Up US Army Tragedy”, Joong Ang Ilbo, 04 July 2002,

[xiii] Michael Breen, The Koreans, (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2004), Chapter 1 The Three Miracles

[xiv] “West Sea Battle Survivors Struggle to Build Future”, Chosun Ilbo, 28 June 2006,

[xv] Jeremy Kirk, “Two US Soldiers Shoved, Spat On at Seoul Station”, Stars & Stripes, 21 December 2002,

[xvi] “Statement on Three Soldiers’, US Embassy Korea Press Release, 18 September 2002,

[xvii] “Two Dead as Tank Falls from Rural Bridge”, Joong Ang Ilbo newspaper, 18 February 2003,

[xviii] David Scofield, “The Mortician’s Tale”, Asia Times, 28 January 2004,

[xix] Hwang Hae-rym & T.D. Flack, “Korea Plans Drive for Safer Roads”, Stars & Stripes, January 18, 2006,

[xx] David Steinberg, Korean Attitudes Toward the United States (M.E. Sharpe, 2005), pg 206

[xxi] “USFK Statement on Highway 56 Accident”, US Embassy Korea press release, 27 July 2002,

[xxii] “Korean Soldier Accidentally Killed Iraqi”, Chosun Ilbo, 13 April 2005,

[xxiii] Jung Sung-ki, “Kurd Official Killed in Traffic in Erbil”, The Korea Times, 02 February 2006,

[xxiv] “South Korea Decides Compensation Sum for Girls Killed by US Armored Vehicle”, People’s Daily, 20 July 2002,

[xxv] Franklin Fischer, “Lawyer: Americans Can Expect Fair Trial In Korea”, Stars & Stripes, 15 April 2007,

[xxvi] “Not Guilty Verdict”, Chosun Ilbo newspaper, 22 November 2002,

[xxvii] Teri Weaver, “Three Years Later, Walker Still Haunted By Deaths of Two Korean Girls”, Stars & Stripes, 01 May 2005,

[xxviii] Jeon Ik-jin & Park Hyun-young, Army Reprimanded Four After Accident that Killed Two Teenagers”, Joong Ang Ilbo, 16 December 2002,

[xxix] Joshua Ray, “Higher Ups Put Safety Second”, Stars & Stripes, 22 November 2002,

[xxx] Jeremy Kirk & Choe Song-won, “As Exercise at the DMZ Begins, Area Residents Say Relations with the US Are Better”, Stars & Stripes, 02 October 2003,

[xxxi] “Two Dead as Tank Falls from Rural Bridge”, Joong Ang Ilbo newspaper, 18 February 2003,

[xxxii] Jennifer Veale, “Seoul Searching”, Foreign Policy, January/February 2007,

  • Your page is now on StumbleUpon!
    10:40 am on June 13th, 2008 1

    [...] Your page is on StumbleUpon [...]

  • Kalani
    12:11 am on June 13th, 2008 2

    Rechecked my history page of these events from back in 2002 at… and saw how the same characters have popped up again in the latest beef issue.

    Lee Hoi-chang and Roh Moo-hyun were promising to renegotiate the SOFA if elected. Only now Lee Hoi-chang of the LFP has helped bring the National Assembly to a standstill — and Roh is making commentary on the Candlelight vigils and LMBs problems from the sidelines. Our favorite radical priest Fr. Moon moved from Kunsan to Seoul to head up the anti-hate movement in 2002…but now is too weak after his last ditch fight at Daechu-ri in Pyeongtaek. The cast of other anti-American activists have all shown up at the latest Candlelight vigils.

    Things haven't changed that much. I just hope the teeny-bopper Korean kids with their signs of "F_CK USA" back then have now matured into reasonable college kids of today and don't bring up all that vomit from the past.

    The photos of the masses of people filling Seoul Plaza up to Dec 2002 look the same as the latest Candlelight vigil. I wonder how many of those folks from back then want to relive the wonderful days of hating Americans. I hope not many.

    What a vile experience it would be to live through it all over again…

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    12:35 am on June 13th, 2008 3

    I don't think the beef issue will match the 2002 hatefest but I do expect the anti-US elements behind the beef protests to try and mobilize these people to take up their anti-USFK causes such as with the funding or pollution issues in the coming months.

    God forbid if another traffic accident should happen in the coming months as well because the anti-US groups will jump all over it just like they did in 2002.

    The beef protests is just the prelude to get the masses riled up in order to mobilize them to take on the anti-US groups real agenda which is bashing USFK.

  • Scribblings of the Metropolitician: On the Anniversary of the Middle School Girls Accident, Another Point of View
    7:16 pm on June 13th, 2008 4

    [...] clearly-discernible facts for what it was. THE POINT OF THIS POST Yet, I suggest that you read this very concise and useful post from the ROKDrop, with which I concur on the major factual matters of the case, because I did a lot of research of [...]

  • Jax
    5:10 am on June 13th, 2008 5

    I am looking forward to the next posting's list of lessons learned.

    Somehow, I seriously doubt that any lessons learned would be institutionalized by the Korean government, media, NGOs, and population. They all would do the exact same thing again.

  • Brian in Jeollanam-do: Required reading, and I never use that term lightly.
    12:04 am on June 14th, 2008 6

    [...] and I never use that term lightly. Y’all need to make some time and read GI Korea’s post “GI Myths: The 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident.” He recaps in great detail the events surrounding the deaths of two middle school girls six years [...]

  • Korean Job Discussion Forums :: View topic - Why doesn't the USA just leave South Korea?
    1:03 am on June 14th, 2008 7

    [...] ends. Required reading for all ex-pats, particularly Americans. Brian in Jeollanam-do’s entry GI Korea’s entry The Metropolitician’s [...]

  • Benicio974
    8:14 am on June 13th, 2008 8

    You covered everything with this post and absolutely nailed the hipocrisy of it all!

    Just sickens me how so many Koreans will believe the most absurd anti-American propaganda lies:

    In 2002, I had some of my university students (and this is a good university) swear that it was totally true that the vehicle drivers "laughed and celebrated their kill" and the backed up and ran over the girls again for fun.

    I was absolutely stunned that someone could believe something so absurd and implausible.

    I asked where they got that information and the answers were either "I read it on the Internet" or "My senior told me".

    I tell you, it's scary how well the anti-American propaganda groups know how to manipulate their audience and get them to believe all the lies without question.

    They're accomplishing so much with the anti-beef thing- very cleverly disguising it as anti-Lee Myung Bak and a "health concern".

    Why can't the Lee government, the American interests, and the pro-American groups understand how to really get the truth to the people and help them to believe it?

    Or, at least properly let the people know they are being lied to and manipulated?

    Seems we are fighting a losing battle against the anti-American groups who have the majority of the Korean public and a few Quislings wrapped around their finger!

  • DPRK Studies
    10:02 am on June 14th, 2008 9

    Must Read: GI Korea on The 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident…

    GI Korea has an excellent and lengthy post on the background, events, and aftermath of the 2002 accident where a U.S. armored vehicle killed to schoolgirls. I arrived in Korea a few days after the accident, but things didn’t start to heat up unti…

  • Annie
    7:13 pm on June 13th, 2008 10

    When I heard about this tragic news of two teenaged girls, I saw it on Korean-American news in California. I am Korean myself so I know bits of current events going on in Korea when my mom watches news every night.

    When I saw this news, I thought it was just tragic and sad. Then I went on my merry ways at high school. What I didn't realize that this tragedy had turned into political mass campaign of anti-American sentiment there. I learned about it just now and I began to wonder why my mom failed to tell me that it was going on.

    The act of hatred toward a country is very brutal and evil because they turn the individual's responsibility into nation's but Korea is not the only country that have done that. (Examples would be prior and during WWI & WWII, Red Scare) But considering today is today even back then was fairly modern and Korea is "democratic", I am really ashamed.

    I'm not apologizing for Korea because I, myself, was a victim of its racial discrimination (I don't look like a typical Korean which is why I was mistreated while living in Korea).

    I also didn't know how Korea reacted to Virgina Tech tragedy. Again, I didn't really pay attention (but I do now, thanks to beef issue). When I read about it, I was touched that Korea was showing its condolences but when I knew its intention, I was upset.

    Thanks for writing about it. It really opened my eyes how strong the nationalism that Korea now have. America doesn't even show its nationalism as strongly as several decades ago. When it does, it's about troops overseas with concerns and hope.

    I want to talk with Korean students on my campus (Upstate New York) and ask them how they feel about it. I wonder if they share the same sentiment after living here for few years. But there aren't many Koreans around here during the summer…

  • hanbokcho
    7:35 pm on June 13th, 2008 11

    Annie, Koreans hate the USA. That is why the USA should never let such a people in her boarders. I would put all Koreans in camps if it was up to me. :)

  • Annie
    7:58 pm on June 13th, 2008 12


    I don't appreciate the way you reply. It's very immature and insensitive comment. Please think before you say anything.

  • Hindsight Is Easier Than Acting Intelligently | The Marmot's Hole
    3:05 pm on June 14th, 2008 13

    [...] copious evidence gathered by GI Korea in his comprehensive post on the accident shows that this is a [...]

  • Gerry Bevers
    8:52 am on June 14th, 2008 14

    Great post, and a important record of that history.

    As you pointed out, it was US soldiers honoring the memories of Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun who introduced Koreans to candlelight vigils, which was not mentioned in a Korean Herald article HERE, which credited the idea for candlelight vigils to some anonymous Korean "netizen".

  • Required reading on anti-Americanism in Korea and the 2002 armored tank incident
    5:09 pm on June 15th, 2008 15

    [...] have taken.  Anyway, the article you really ought to read is from the blogger GI Korea: "GI Myths:The 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident."  I also recommend checking out the information on, as well as a small [...]

  • Memory of Shim Mi-son & Shin Hyo-sun Hijacked By Anti-US Beef Protesters
    7:07 am on June 16th, 2008 16

    [...] it is absolutely disgusting what these groups are doing once again demagouging and hijacking the memories of Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun for their own partisan political purposes. Then again these are the same people that would [...]

  • Top Five Lessons Learned from the Tragedy of 2002
    3:10 am on June 17th, 2008 17

    [...] are plenty of lessons to be learned from the 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident from all sides of this issue to include the Korean public, government, and media, but I am going to [...]

  • Roboseyo: More mad cow. Cripes I'm tired of this.
    7:16 am on June 17th, 2008 18

    [...] deaths of two girls who were run over by a U.S. Armoured vehicle near an army base north of Seoul. ROK Drop has a really amazingly excellent write-up on what happens when misinformation, lack of crit…(re: that 2002 armoured car incident) that shows just how far you can go on anti-american emotion [...]

  • OneFreeKorea » B.S. Stands for ‘Bovine Spongiform’
    11:24 pm on June 17th, 2008 19

    [...] to paralyze or seize the reigns of national power.  The reaction to the 2002 traffic accident certainly seemed irrational enough (must-read link), but two girls did die; the tragedy was at least real.  This year, lacking a [...]

  • Mooo! « ???? ??
    11:54 am on June 18th, 2008 20

    [...] a great blog for US Forces in Korea, recently did a fantastic job of uncovering the facts of the case. Koreans still believe a lot of the lies surrounding this incident and it is an emotional issue for [...]

  • Gusts Of Popular Feeling: Thoughts on the continuing protests
    2:52 am on June 20th, 2008 21

    [...] girls run over by a US military vehicle on June 13, 2002 (for more background on the incident, this post at ROK Drop is well worth reading, and the Metropolitician offers his analysis of those that used [...]

  • Brian Deutsch on the tank protests - Expatkorea
    2:33 pm on June 20th, 2008 22

    [...] the report done last week by the blogger "ROK Drop" on the incident and the aftermath:…icle-accident/ Reading that put me in the state of mind to write this latest KT piece. While I know Koreans will [...]

  • Brian Deutsch in the Korea Times
    5:32 am on June 21st, 2008 23

    [...] It will be interesting to see if Brian Deutsch the K-blogger who raised the ire of Korean netizens due to his objection to the Crazy Cow Madness, with his latest article in the Korea Times taking a stab at the myth making of the 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident. [...]

  • james
    2:48 pm on June 20th, 2008 24

    I think that maybe sometimes Korean civilian courts are too lenient. For example, there was a U.S. soldier in his early 20's who raped and beat an elderly Korean woman, but he only got something like 3-4 years in prison (he was tried by an ROK civilian court, as he was off duty at the time).

    That said however, it is despicable how some South Koreans are dishonouring the memory of the two schoolgirls by trying to pursue an anti-American agenda at any cost. Of course, Korea activated its own SOFA with Kurdistan in Iraq, when an ROK soldier accidentally killed a 53-year-old politician in a traffic accident. Why were there virtually no articles or comments in the Korean press about that? Aren't Kurdish people important?

  • torreypines
    1:44 pm on June 24th, 2008 25

    A well-written post from a GI's point of view, although I, as a Korean citizen, have to disagree with you on several points which I would rather not elaborate. BTW I agree with you that it was a very unfortunate "accident" and some of Korean NGOs grossly distorted the truth. But it also has to be true that somebody in that convoy made a fatal mistake (or a few mistakes) and got away. I believe it's what angered most Koreans, because there had long been a perception in Korea (which may partly be true) that Americans can do whatever in Korea and get away with it.

    A few factual errors: ex-president Roh was from Gyeongsang province, not Cholla. Maybe you were mistaken because Cholla province is his party's stronghold. And he was not a little-known lawyer at that time, he had been a widely respected politician (a rarity in Korea). You may also be surprised that he refused to participate in the anti-US rally, saying that it would be imprudent for a presidential candidate to do so. All the other major presidential candidate did participate, including the leading conservative candidate Lee Hoi-chang. That he was elected in the midst of anti-americanism does not mean he was anti-american; it just is not logical.

    Korean court martial sentence is generally harsher, that's why Korean soldiers are not allowed to be tried in civilian courts. Not because of hypocrisy.

  • The final cut
    9:43 pm on June 25th, 2008 26

    [...] it is absolutely disgusting what these groups are doing once again demagouging and hijacking the memories of Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun for their own partisan political purposes. Then again these are the same people that would [...]

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    10:04 am on June 25th, 2008 27

    torreypines thanks for commenting and let me answer some of your points.

    The perception that GIs can do whatever they want and get away with it in Korea is false as I have shown over and over again:

    However the perception held by GIs that Koreans can commit crimes against them and get away with it is actually based on reality:

    As far as Roh yes point taken and correction made he was not from Cholla but his base of support was there. As far as Roh being anti-American the fact that he played up how he wouldn't "kowtow to the Americans" or how he had never traveled to America and my all time favorite "is going anti-American a big deal?" all are pretty indicative of him trying to shore up the anti-American vote.

    The fact that Korean soldiers are not tried in civilian courts is hypocritical if Korean citizens do not want to hold their own soldiers to the standards they expect of USFK. Also using your logic that Korean court martials are harsher then civilian courts that means that all US soldiers should be tried in court martials as well since they are harsher then Korean civilian courts.

    Case in point in 2003 when a KATUSA was sexually assaulted at Camp Jackson. Since the crime happened off duty Korean courts had jurisdiction however the family of the KATUSA wanted the US to court martial him because they knew the punishment would be greater. They US soldier was sentenced to 30 years in jail. Such a sentence would have never been handed down in a Korean court.

    Compare this to a ROK Army court martial that did not send a ROK Army soldier to jail for sexually assaulting a female US Army soldier on Camp Casey:

    Well at least the ROK Army court martial put the soldier on probation unlike the Korean court who let a cab driver who raped a US Army soldier go:

    As far as the accident you need to provide specific criticisms in order to properly respond because CID investigated the unit and no criminal intent was found on the leaders of the unit and the charges brought against the two soldiers in the vehicle were politically motivated as I have shown. Also as I have shown safety infraction violations led the unit leadership to all be reprimanded and their careers ended.

    Also as a Korean you should know full well how traffic accidents are handled in Korea. As long as the person shows proper remorse and pays the blood money that the family accepts they don't have a lynch mob coming after them like what the two soldiers involved in this tragic accident had coming after them.

  • chefantwon
    12:05 am on June 26th, 2008 28

    Interesting report, how our vaulted left wing media didn't run this into the ground is beyond belief.

    My heart goes out to the familys of those 2 girls.

    To the commander of that movement, he should of had a lead vechile out there to watch out for traffic and pedestrians. That's the guy who should be punished.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    12:18 am on June 26th, 2008 29

    The commander was in a HMMWV leading the convoy. Also remember the girls were hit by the fourth vehicle in the convoy which shows they knew they were standing in the midst of a military convoy and continued to walk on the road any way.

    Soldiers in the convoy including the TC of the vehicle of that hit the girls saw them but the radio issue prevented the driver from being aware that they were walking on the road.

    The fact that civilians walk on the road and do not move is not unusual in the 2ID area because the people are so used to the ROK and US military equipment and have thus lost respect for how dangerous the equipment can be. Likewise many military units got used to the civilians as well and slacked on safety procedures like this unit did by having tired drivers and no proper convoy rehearsal. I would also like to reemphasize that the commander and the other leaders in the unit were punished with General reprimands which are career killers.

    It was a tragic accident that was preventable from many angles, but in no way was it worthy of the xenophobic hate that followed it.

  • Hamel
    5:26 am on June 27th, 2008 30

    "The most infamous example of misinformation was when the major news network MBC aired footage of someone claiming to be a former Korean Army tank driver …"

    Was this "PD Notebook"? I cannot be 100% sure and the page from where that video is sourced doesn't say what program it was from. I seem to recall kimsoft had it on his site, but no more. Can anyone confirm the name of the program? (If the owner of this site knows, could you email me at the address provided please?)

  • Exposing the Anti-US Activists as Violence Continues In Seoul
    12:42 pm on June 29th, 2008 31

    [...] Oh has been behind anti-US-ROK FTA protests as well as anti-US protests in 2002 in regards to the USFK armored vehicle accident.  He was also involved in protests to shut down the USFK bombing range at Maehyang-ri in [...]

  • Jag D
    8:46 am on July 7th, 2008 32

    That's not a picture of Walker and Nino at their court-martial. They were tried separately, and acquitted separately. That's a picture of Walker's military defense counsel, with Walker behind him. They are at the Uijongbu courthouse, months before the court-martial.

    We were supposed to meet with Korean prosecutors as a bona-fide SOFA/international law requirement that the defendants be made "available" for questioning. It ended up being a set-up: Korean prosecutors never met with us, the Korean press "infiltrated" the courthouse (when someone opened the front door and led them to us), and our U.S. security detail got us out of there in a hurry.

    I know because I was Walker's military defense counsel. I'm holding up my black University of Akron Law binder in that picture. I still own it.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    11:06 am on July 7th, 2008 33

    Jag D, thanks for commenting and clarifying the picture. Is there anything else in the posting that needs additional clarification because I am trying to make this posting as accurate as possible in regards to what happened.

  • Jag D
    5:50 pm on July 7th, 2008 34

    Your posting is excellent, thank you for providing it. Your sources are spot-on, and your opinions are very accurate. Only other thing I would add is there were no photographers or reporters allowed in or around the courtroom at Camp Casey, except for one from Stars and Stripes I believe (T.D. Flack).

    That is because the entire trial was televised closed-circuit to a Korean VIP/family/press room located a few buildings away, complete with translator services, all paid for by (who else?) the USG. Everyone in that VIP room seemed fine with the arrangements and the proceedings themselves until the consecutive not guilty verdicts were returned. Then of course the cries of kangaroo court, bad SOFA, etc. etc. began anew.

  • US Beef Protests Dwindle as Anti-US Groups Show Their True Colors (://URLFAN)
    6:45 pm on July 19th, 2008 35

    [...] I think the most disgusting example of the political nature of these protests is when the anti-US groups set up a memorial tent outside City Hall in Seoul that has blatantly linked the US beef protests with the 2002 USFK armored vehicle accident: [...]

  • 1985 USFK Driver’s Safety Video
    11:15 am on August 14th, 2008 36

    [...] as a reminder that military driver’s safety is not something that came about because of the 2002 armored vehicle accident but in fact something that has been emphasized for [...]

  • Huh?
    8:03 pm on September 20th, 2008 37

    Totally disagree with you korean bashers here. The driver of the military vehicle that KILLED Ms. Shin and Ms. Shim was a professionally trained driver of that vehicle. If he wasn't then why was he driving it?? While he may not have intentionally killed these young ladies, he did, in fact, kill them. Therefore he is at fault and should have received a korean prison sentence. If you drive an automobile and you hit someone and kill them, because you are considered a professional driver because you have a driver's license, you will face a prison sentence – seen it done in another province. So don't try to shift blame onto Ms. Shin and Ms. Shim, the solder was at fault! BTW: Ms. Shin is a distant cousin of my family's so I do take this very personally when you bash her.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    12:17 am on September 21st, 2008 38

    Idiot, nobody is bashing Ms. Shin.

    Koreans involved in fatal car accidents are not automatically thrown in jail.

    For people like me, it isn't "Korea-bashing" it is Korea's anti-US culture bashing.

    In another thread, you pull out many of the shallow Korea-defending arguments – like – It's their country, you are guests, blah blah blah.

    And now this claim that people attacking the orgy of hate South Korean society put on in the 2nd half of 2002 are bashing the poor girls who died.

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    12:29 am on September 21st, 2008 39

    Just to second what USinKorea said, Huh? is using the same old, tired arguments.

    In just the last two years there were two GIs killed by taxi cab drivers and those drivers were never sent to jail for killing the GIs. The second incident was an accident but the first innocent was definitely shady with the cab driver committing a hit and run.

    Here is what the cab driver was charged with after the accident:

    South Korean police identified the soldier as Shannon Chalfant, according to Sgt. Chang Won-il of the Yangju police accident investigation division.

    The car’s driver, Maeng Chang-je, 50, was not injured, according to Chang.

    Under South Korean law, Maeng could face a fine of 40,000 won, about $40, for hitting a pedestrian, according to South Korean police.

    It will be interesting to hear Huh?'s rationale when Koreans are responsible for killing GI's in traffic accidents and are only charged a $40 fine.

  • james
    2:32 pm on September 21st, 2008 40

    I'm not even an American, but, because I'm visibly foreign, I experienced some of that anti-American (and later generally anti-Western, anti-foreigner) horsesh** as well.

    I understand that in 2006 (correct me if I'm wrong), a Korean soldier accidentally ran over a Kurdish man in Iraq and killed him. The Korean army then activated its own SOFA they had with Kurdistan, so that the soldier wouldn't be tried in a Kurdish court.

    I also understand that Korean soldiers in the ROK are never tried in civilian courts for crimes they may commit, whether they're on duty or off.

    Finally, weren't there a number of South Korean sailors who were deliberately killed by North Korean forces at about the same time in 2002? Not to mention the many young Koreans killed in traffic accidents by their fellow countrymen that year…yet, because U.S. troops were involved in that one particular, accidental tragedy, the xenophobic fit hit the shan.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    9:35 pm on September 21st, 2008 41

    Last Question first:

    Traffic Accidents in Korea:

    On the ROK soldier, I remember hearing something like that. The one that comes to mind more is of an ROK soldier who accidently shot a Kurd, I think it was, by being careless with his rifle.

    The story on how ROK soldier crimes are handled I like best is one in the late 1990s when a guy robbed a bank with a machine gun and stun grenade. He wounded at least one person with the gun. That is highly unusual in Korea. It was a shocker. When they caught the guy several days later and heard he was a soldier – it was stunning but then the news accounts dried up. —- He was handled in Korean military court – even though the bank was off base and civilian.

    In the water dumping case this guy also commented on on another thread, a month or two after that case, a Korean logging company was finally dragged into court and fined for having pumped, was it thousands??, of gallons of fromaldehyde into the Han River directly – well, through run-off due to how close to the river they were treating the wood.

    That case got a fine after the practice had been ongoing. But, the USFK case gets months of protests and an ever-lasting story/justification.

  • shattered
    10:24 pm on September 21st, 2008 42

    Good boy "Huh" keep up the good work showing the Korean/ Kyopo mindset.

  • shattered
    10:25 pm on September 21st, 2008 43

    Sheesh!!! Has anybody ever heard of the "Darwin awards"

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    12:40 am on September 22nd, 2008 44

    Everyone can read about US-ROK SOFA as well as the SOFA's Korea has signed with other countries to include the Kurdish incident and the ROK soldiers who held up the bank at the below link:

  • GI Myths: Is the US Military Crime Rate in Korea Out of Control?
    8:29 pm on September 23rd, 2008 45

    [...] a soldier committing a crime and getting away with it because of the SOFA, they always bring up the 2002 Armoured Vehicle Accident as evidence. I always appreciate them bring up that tragic accident because it is so easy to [...]

  • The Golden Klog Awards: Survey is Up. Go vote! » The Hub of Sparkle!
    6:36 am on January 28th, 2009 46

    [...] Ruin Everything Popular Gusts “Protests, public space in Seoul, and cyberspace” ROK Drop – GI Myths – The 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident Samedi: Korean Temples Series Gord Sellar, Roboseyo, The Korean, et. al.: Why Do Expats Complain So [...]

  • The Golden Klogs: Results are In! » The Hub of Sparkle!
    10:57 am on February 5th, 2009 47

    [...] Ruin Everything Popular Gusts “Protests, public space in Seoul, and cyberspace” ROK Drop – GI Myths – The 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident Samedi: Korean Temples Series Gord Sellar, Roboseyo, The Korean, et. al.: Why Do Expats Complain So [...]

  • kesumo
    10:14 pm on February 23rd, 2009 48

    Is this post available in Korean? A Korean co-worker mentioned this accident to me at lunch this week, claiming that there was no apology. I told her she was misinformed, and sent her a link to this post. Her English is pretty good, but if this is available in Korean, I'd like to send her that as well. And if it isn't available in Korean, I think this and all of your "GI myth" posts should be translated. I think there are many fair-minded Koreans out there who simply have never been told the truth. Maybe the "Korea Beat" guys could do it?

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    1:13 pm on February 25th, 2009 49

    I have had offers to have the posting translated for my site but I do not have the Korean language skills to answer comments that may begin to come in from Korean commenters to answer questions and criticisms of the posting.

    If someone wanted to post it in Korean on their site to where they could respond intelligently to questions from Korean commenters I would be all for it.

  • silentgrayfellow
    4:40 pm on March 18th, 2009 50

    I will be showing this to my Korean girlfriend today, along with some of your other postings. She is under the impression that U.S. military personnel are never brought to trial in Korean courts and that there are no U.S. military personnel in Korean jails. Her evidence is "everybody says so".

  • silentgrayfellow
    4:42 pm on March 18th, 2009 51

    Oh, and she brought up this incident (the 2002 death of these schoolgirls) as evidence that GIs are never brought to justice. She claims that they were sent back to the U.S. to avoid prosecution in the Korean court system. I asked for her evidence…"well everybody says it's true…"

  • usinkorea
    9:50 pm on March 18th, 2009 52


    I haven't been in Korea teaching Korean adults since 2000, but that was what everybody knew as the truth back then.

    Even after a couple of major cases came up in the late 1990s, and we had gone over news articles that showed the GIs were tried and convicted in a Korean court, some of my long-term students would still end up saying some weeks later that "no" GIs are ever held to Korean justice.

    This link is to a scan of an article on the first GIs to be convicted and sentenced by Korean courts: it was in 1967.

    GI Korea has a lot of great information about contemporary cases. I've also got up some older cases that I was able to locate in the US news archives:

  • guitard
    8:43 am on March 20th, 2009 53

    Video of the protesters who cut the hole in the fence at Camp Red Cloud:

  • General Honore Talks about the 2002 Accident in New Book | The Marmot's Hole
    7:13 pm on May 6th, 2009 54

    [...] Korea has a detailed post clarifying misinformation surrounding the 2002 accident and its [...]

  • DanDanNoodles
    5:33 pm on December 3rd, 2009 55

    Just wanted to add. Since that accident, every soldier that comes to Korea is briefed on the accident as part of the inprocessing procedure. The soldiers are taken to the site of the accident and briefed the 5Ws (and How). Also, no longer are tracked vehicles allowed to move during the day time, and I would say that 95% of tracked convoys are moved by Heavy Equipment Truck Transport run by the Korean Service Corps. So very rarely are trackes even on the ground anymore.

  • Josh Ray
    2:58 pm on March 22nd, 2010 56

    Was doing some fact checking today on the incident I was part of nearly 8 years ago today. Great blog post that tackles the topic from the angle I typically view the events and the aftermath from. I may be reading wrong, but one part of your article seemed to suggest that our unit (B Co, 44th Engineer Bn) left a staging area to go TO Twin Bridges.

    In fact, we were staged on the outskirts of the training area awaiting Bradleys to reach us so that we could continue into the training area. Instead, CPT Mason informed us that we would leave the training area and travel a few miles down the road to the Bradleys, THEN travel back over the same road back to our staging area. We would effectively be traveling miles over the same small road twice, when we only needed to wait in place.

    I personally mentioned something to CPT Mason about it during staging. So did my squad leader. I can't quote him directly due to years of separation from the conversation, but he said something very very close to "it's my company and I'll do what I want".

    I was interviewed by PD Notebook in 2005 (2006?) about the incident while in Korean language school in Monterey, CA, and have been trying to get a copy of that show since then. I am very worried that they did not represent my words correctly, since Korean media has been very spotty as you have addressed well in this blog.

    Currently I am back in school continuing toward my goal of intelligence/PR work in Korea while working full time for the government. I have matured since then, but there is still a lot to learn. In those days, I had a very small piece of the responsibility. That being said, I still feel three things very strongly:

    1) Korean media did a great disservice to both U.S. servicemembers and the Korean people.

    2) CPT Mason made a horrendously poor decision that was indicative of his and 1SG Williams' leadership at the time.

    3) I still feel like I owe a debt to the families of Shim Mi Son and Shin Hyo Soon that I am trying to repay further down the road by continuing my studies of Korean history and culture.

    I am subscribing to this comment thread and would enjoy chatting with you about Korea.

  • QL
    3:15 am on May 28th, 2010 57

    Sgt. Chalfant's still alive and in therapy as of Feb. 2009:

  • elementary school te
    7:19 pm on June 13th, 2010 58

    heard from my korean coworker today about this event. we joke sometimes about how koreans get offended when any foreigners 'diss' korea. today it came up at lunch and she asked how i would feel if someone insulted the US. i told her many americans hate the US, so i people's negative opinions don't bother me.

    she's pretty fair about discussing cultural issues, so i was surprised at how somber she got later in the afternoon when explaining america's injustice toward korea in the armored vehicle incident. i'm glad there is some thorough, fact-grounded information in this post to help me process her expression of korea's disdain toward the US. i've heard so much about japan's atrocities since being here (and about the dokdo conflict, etc), and have therefore come to somewhat resent korea's 'everyone says so' mentality.

    thank you for working to bring this incident into a new light…i do hope the tolerance and investigatory skills of korean society soon catch up to their amazing technological and economical development.

  • Marcus
    12:55 am on September 1st, 2010 59

    For all your citations, you got the Girard situation completely wrong (the US military who killed a Japanese woman). You say he "deliberately" killed her but that's not what he was sentenced for, he was sentenced to 3 years for causing her death. Also strictly speaking the US shouldn't have handed him over as he was on duty while the incident happened – in the end, mounting Japanese antagonism made sure he was handed over, which was widely protested in the states at the time.

    So the Korean media def. had a point when they mentioned this case. You got it all wrong.

  • JAG D
    1:55 am on September 1st, 2010 60

    Marcus, here's a link from Time magazine, 1957. The Girard case involved a soldier actually firing an empty cartridge from a GRENADE LAUNCHER — AT a group of Japanese scavengers. The cartridge stuck and killed a woman.,9171,…

    The Sec Def at the time (1957) decided that Girard's actions were not authorized. Well, no kidding. Firing anything from a grenade launcher at a group of civilians is pretty "unauthorized."

    The Korean media, true to form, sensationalized and hyped the Walker incident to actually compare Walker's actions to those of Girard. Sorry, but a soldier following his commander's orders to drive an AVLB during a training exercise, was totally authorized. The fact that Walker got in a vehicle accident — which was admittedly a horrible accident — is in no way the same act.

    Unless of course you're trying to sell papers and get Koreans enraged. Mission accompished, obviously.

  • JAG D
    3:19 am on September 9th, 2010 61

    One more thing I wanted to clarify is that the 2002 SOFA contained something called a "first right of jurisdiction" for on-duty incidents. In other words, once an on-duty determination was made (driving an AVLB during training was definitely on-duty), then the second question was whether the U.S. would exercise or waive its "first right" to retain jurisdiction of the soldiers. The U.S. could have waived jurisdiction and handed the soldiers over to the Korean government. Even though the incident occurred on-duty.

    So when the U.S. execrcised its "first right" and announced in a press release it would retain jurisdiction, Korea went crazy for a third time (the first time being immediately after the incident, the second when Camp Red Cloud was assaulted two days after Korea's World Cup elimination). As the article points out, this was particularly hypocritical in light of Korea's military jurisdiction at home, and existing Korean SOFAs for its own troops abroad.

    Shortly after the announcement a U.S. soldier was kidnapped by a mob under the guise of having committed an assault. He was forced to read a prepared statement saying the SOFA was bad and needed to be changed. That's why I say "went crazy."

  • guitard
    8:05 am on September 9th, 2010 62

    JAG D

    10:19 am on September 9th, 2010

    So when the U.S. exercised its “first right” and announced in a press release it would retain jurisdiction, Korea went crazy for a third time (the first time being immediately after the incident

    There was very little reaction for several days after the accident – as Korea was completely wrapped up in the World Cup.

  • JAG D
    8:43 am on September 9th, 2010 63

    Maybe I was too close to the event, or "crazy" is too strong to describe the initial reaction — but the protestors and stories on the Korean press wire — especially the myth about the Katusa fighting Walker — were nearly instantaneous / contemporaneous with the accident itself.

    I'll grant that because of the WC, a lot of the initial incendiary reaction was overshadowed. But it's not like people just all of a sudden decided to show up at CRC and breach the Main Gate after the WC loss. The propaganda machine, and leaks of gruesome photos on protest placards (being held by citizens and kids), mobilized by the weekend of the incident, esp in Dongducheon, Uijongbu, and Yongsan. After the WC, the full movement of "crazy" found a nationwide audience, to be sure.

  • Orbit
    2:35 pm on September 9th, 2010 64

    #63 JAG D terrible, terrible grammar.

  • JAG D
    5:31 am on September 10th, 2010 65

    If anyone has any constructive comments or questions on the litigation itself, just let me know. I'll defer to Strunk & White for grammatical foibles.

  • bruce
    6:58 am on November 27th, 2010 66

    the comanding general should walk into the korean parliment ask them if they want us to leave them to mercy of north korea.then if they don't respond to the ngos we walk see how they like that.

  • bruce
    8:07 am on November 27th, 2010 67


  • StandingInTheTwiligh
    11:26 pm on January 28th, 2011 68

    As an American-raised Korean, I have an admittedly unique perception on the surrounding attitudes of the incident. While certainly I acknowledge that there was quite a large departure from rationality on the part of the protesters, I hesitate at your willingness to paint the entire country with the same brush. Surely there has been (and still is, to some extent) similar expressions by Americans and American media, if only against themselves.

    Take, for example, the Vietnam War. Surely you are familiar with the photo of the public execution that was spread across the nation that demonized your presence there. What wasn't told to the public was that the executed prisoner was guilty of espionage and that the legal penalty for such was indeed death. And yet had you told anyone who had seen that picture on TV, can you really say that the response you would have gotten would have been too different from "everybody says so?" Perhaps it may have been closer to disbelief that you could be so "stupid" as that is closer to the American Way, but even so, the basic tenet would have been the same.

    The media (and by extension, liberals) are quite dangerous, and if they feed on the public's more basic instincts (such as preservation of children and women), it becomes easy to see why the nation may have become so incited. Also keep in mind that the entire country is about the size of Delaware. Organizing the entire country is not so far-fetched, especially with the support of the media (which is already traditionally left-leaning).

    And, sadly, I am sure there are those who simply went along with it because the vocal majority was so forceful with it.

    Regardless, I can tell you now that while there is a faint lingering of those emotions, they are by and large gone. There are new liberals spreading new reasons to hate America, but at least they are tempered by somewhat cooler minds. The fact that there is a conservative in the Blue House helps. The fact that North Korea recently showed its true colors twice in one year helps even more, although I'm afraid that the liberals are again making the nation weak in leaning on the president to become softer.

    Korea is indeed quite homogeneous, and while there are some bad points (perhaps too many), certainly there are still yet some good parts of it. America is a nation that is no longer proud of itself, a nation that is beginning to self-destruct because not only does it not defend itself but it also openly attacks itself with words, a stronger weapon than bullets or bombs could ever be. It even goes to the extent of demonizing those who *are* proud of their American culture and heritage, how can such a thing strengthen a union?

    And, if the result of your multi-culturism is unending terrorism and submitting to Islam, I would then feel quite safe in our xenophobia.

    But I do grant you that our country has yet a long way to go regarding certain crimes. We do not have an exemplary record in our government. That said, barely a century ago, we did not have widespread electrical power or railroads and lived under a monarchy (soon to be annexed by Japan). Today we are on the cutting-edge of technology. Sadly, our societal advances have been lagging behind, but we will catch up. America began its industrial revolution in the early 1800s, had it in full swing by 1860, and passed the 19th Amendment in 1920. And even then, it took some time before women were considered equal, as even as late as the 1950s, women were seen as little more than kitchen adornments. I'll be generous, however, and say that from the beginning of America's advance into the future and the social recognition of women was roughly 120 years. Given that Korea has had but sixty with which to catapult from a war-torn nation to one of the strongest economic, technological, and communication powers of the world, I believe I can safely wager that they will soon catch up socially, and faster than America has.

    America has had the luxury of time and (perhaps more importantly) democracy, something I would remind readers that the Republic of Korea has not truly enjoyed until the early 1990s. We are still adjusting, and there is quite the sore spot for any perceived injustice, as there has been quite a few valid injustices already committed. I'm afraid it is a case of the victim seeing muggers everywhere they go. That, and comparatively, America has an atrociously short memory. Most of Asia (Korea included) have histories that are decidedly longer, and the memory of committed wrongdoings done by outsiders will unfortunately taint our perceptions of any further mistakes.

    For the record, "outsiders" haven't had the greatest record, and that goes all the way back to the French Catholic missionaries that spat on our culture. And while you may not be French, I am afraid that you all do indeed look quite alike. So it is not too hard to understand why we are not overly fond of foreigners.

  • Retired GI
    12:18 am on January 29th, 2011 69

    68, So it all boils down to (we look different). Check. Quite good of you to admit your country of Korea is a racist country. (Not like I didn't know that already)

    More justification for the black, white and brown people to leave korea to the Chinese.

    Too bad Obama will not listen to me.

  • James
    2:14 pm on January 30th, 2011 70

    Standing in the Twilight:

    Have you ever actually been to France? Paris in particular is home to several millions of blacks, Arabs, Viets, Chinese, Latin Americans, etc. "You all look alike"?….spare me.

    Why do so many Korean people condemn Japan for colonial crimes committed by Imperial Japanese over 65 years ago, but totally overlook North Korea starving 1.5 million Koreans to death, gang-raping female inmates, doing medical experiments on prisoners, administering forced abortions, torturing inmates, kidnapping foreigners (not just Koreans and Japanese, but also Filipinos, Thais, Romanians and Lebanese, amongst others), counterfeiting U.S. currency, and illegally building nuclear weapons and selling arms to terrorists? By the way, the late Kim Dae-Jung and Roh Mu-Hyeon facilitated the latter by giving so much bribe money to Kim Jong-Il.

    Some Koreans will say, "That's different, because we're the same race/ethnic group as North Koreans." So that makes North Korea's current injustices accepatble, but Japan's past ones unacceptable? Alrighty then…are you saying that it's all right for some Koreans to disrepect foreigners and their cultures (without whom and which South Korea wouldn't even exist today), but only vice-versa is wrong?

  • Vince
    4:00 pm on January 30th, 2011 71

    Why do the ROKs overlook the north Korean atrocities?

    Because it's Bush's fault!

  • james
    2:32 pm on February 13th, 2011 72

    BTW, in the litany of North Korean crimes I have listed, I forgot to mention extensive narcotics production and trafficking (eg. heroin, methamphetamines ("meth"), cocaine, etc.). Let's not forget to touch on that as well.

  • giericd
    12:49 am on June 20th, 2012 73

    I was a MP that responded to the accident scene where Shin and Shim were killed. Forget what you heard from people who dont know, i can tell you first hand no one was laughing, no one thought it was funny! The driver of the tank was so upset I had to physically help pull him out of the tank.The images of those girls haunt me to this day and i cant sleep at night from what i saw there that day. I pray that they will never be forgoten, god knows i will remember them for the rest of my life. may they RIP and my heart goes out to their family. and for the record every soldier i know feels the way i do. some one dieing is never funny and is a sad loss.

  • Jerry Foley
    3:09 am on August 10th, 2012 74

    Well I certainly remember all we heard about this, over and over. Then I also remember when we stopped hearing about it. Does anyone else?

  • Chris
    11:28 am on September 15th, 2012 75

    I drove the Bradley that was coming up the other direction.
    The way that this story was told is inaccurate. This has caused me alof of nightmares
    Over the years.

  • kor-amer
    6:12 pm on November 7th, 2012 76

    *sigh* this is y u Yankee bastards have to leave. maybe more kids won’t be turned into roadkill if there werent as many huge ass vehicles rolling around

  • James
    5:14 am on November 18th, 2012 77

    Kor-Amer: and how many South Korean kids get killed by reckless and/or aggressive Korean drivers each year, including in 2002? Except the anti-U.S., anti-Western, ugly xenophobic and racist bigotry was in full force that year, so that particular incident was used by radical civic groups to blame everyone who looked foreign.

    The South Korean government pays the U.S. to stay, and most South Koreans just about puddinged their pants when Donald Rumsfeld threatened to pull out all the U.S. troops in response to the bigoted violence against them at the time. Of course, if that happened, then North Korea would be very tempted to reinvade, and they’d stand a fair chance of winning the second time round.

    Then, instead of having a handful of South Korean kids getting killed or injured by U.S. army vehicles in tragic accidents over a period of many years, millions of them would starve to death like their counterparts in the wonderful, foreigner-free paradise of North Korea, while the magnamimous elite there gorges on gourmet food and Hennessay whiskey, drives Mercedes-Benzes, goes to Singapore, China and Switzerland for shopping, etc.

  • Psy’s Anti-American Past « Giant Robot
    11:01 am on November 30th, 2012 78

    [...] a military vehicle accidentally killed two teenage girls in what would later be deemed the “Yangju Highway Incident.” The tragedy sparked a greater wave of anti-American sentiment along with Apolo Ohno 2002 [...]

  • rus858582
    12:20 pm on December 3rd, 2012 79

    hanbokcho, Retired GI, shattered, Ik zou graag je gezicht gesneden in linten

  • Mike Morgan
    12:35 pm on December 3rd, 2012 80

    rus858582, you talk big on the interwebs; but you’re just a racist, cowardly troll that is acting in support of the butchers in Pyongyang… like so many others here…

    The girls killed themselves by walking where it was not safe and they should have known it was not safe…

    It’s still tragic; but it’s not the GI’s fault. No matter how many banners someone makes. No matter how many curses one utters. No matter how many protest vigils one attends.

    And nothing we do will bring them back. So let’s try to make fewer wars and spread less hatred and BS so eventually all the soldiers can go home.

  • PSY-Ops on Pearl Harbor Day? | San Gabriel, California
    6:13 pm on December 7th, 2012 81

    [...] and killed them.  It was also a period of heart-rending tragedy that saw an American military vehicle kill 13-year-old middle school girls Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun, who were walking along the roadside just outside of Seoul on the [...]

  • Bob
    8:13 pm on December 7th, 2012 82

    I talked to a Korean a few months ago about this and he too still believes that the soldiers took it as a joke. I was dumbfounded, I simply said “You understand soldiers have daughters, and sons, and mothers, and farther, and a heart as well”

    I then pointed out several ROK Military accidents, to which he hushed up.

    I sometimes find the Korean attitude towards foreigners a little disheartening.

  • Tom
    8:55 pm on December 7th, 2012 83


    We had several people presumably Americans here who were joking about it for the last few days right here in this forum. I also heard many American soldiers in clubs, joking about it, and making lots of disparaging remarks about the dead kids and Koreans in general whom the Americans had nothing but contempt for, right after the killings happened. I would say very few if any American soldiers at that time cared for those girls. The ones who claimed otherwise, were all bull sh1tters.

  • PSY apologizes for ‘inflammatory and inappropriate’ anti-American rap /
    4:58 pm on December 8th, 2012 84

    [...] At an progressing concert, in 2002, PSY crushed a indication of an American tank, Korean media sources say, protesting a exculpation of dual U.S. troops group who were concerned in an collision that killed dual South Korean teenagers. [...]

  • dry mouth symptom
    7:56 pm on December 8th, 2012 85

    Everything is very open with a really clear clarification of the challenges.
    It was definitely informative. Your site is useful. Many thanks for sharing!

  • K.S
    9:13 pm on December 8th, 2012 86

    I want to tell you about The Yangju highway incident as korean.
    Please.. understand my grammar is not perfect.

    At first, you should know, we always thank for people who fought for freedom and democracy. Korea government set up memorial monument which be carved veteran names of the Korean war. so you should know it different with ani-america that be caused by The Yangju highway incident. (in korea called 효순이 미선이 사건)

    Most important is that American soldiers did not deserve punishment.

    After the Yangju highway incident, we just want to deserve punishment for death. So, we suppressed a demonstration with holding candlelight to US army for giving jurisdiction. (candlelight vigil)

    but they did not …and…. say “not guilty”. then, ani-american wave was spreaded in korea. ( I can’t sure… perhaps…that time, psy sang ani-american)

    it’s wrong!!! whoever, anyone if they make someone death, they should pay their guilty.

    what would you do if korean army kill two american girls(age 12) by tank, then korea court judge “oh. not guilty.”

    To tell you the true, before we had an illusion that USA is always righteous. Because… they fought with us against north korea…. we love them.. I think that time, may be.. korean felt sense of betrayal to USA.

    well…. now… korean still love USA but we never forget Hyo-sun and Mi-seon.

    *if you search ‘효순이 미선이 사건’ on the internet, you can watch girls body picture which was not blotted out by a camera. then you can understand korean angry and sad.

  • Teadrinker
    9:27 pm on December 8th, 2012 87


    You would have had to have been in Korea to hear Americans soldiers joking about it, if they were indeed making light of the tragedy.

  • Teadrinker
    9:41 pm on December 8th, 2012 88


    What you’re not considering is why that traffic accident remained unnoticed until months later. Don’t you think that’s odd?

    Tell me, how do you feel about South Koreans who cause traffic accident deaths in South Korea? Do you burn your passport in protest? Of course not.

    And, face it, the reaction was not limited to ‘candlelight vigils’. In my hometown, for example, some idiot spray-painted “USA F@cking” (his grammar mistake, not mine) on a building downtown for all people to see, even kids who probably asked their parents what that obscene word meant. There aren’t any US bases anywhere near my town, which confounded me. The only Americans that I knew of were a handful of hagwon teachers and the kids of a few of my US-educated Korean colleagues.

    Moreover, some American soldiers were attacked (one was killed) in the months following this.

    And, to make matters worse, it wasn’t just Americans who were targeted, but anyone who seemed American to the xenophobes and the racists.

  • Don'tCriticizePatrioticAmerica
    10:12 pm on December 8th, 2012 89

    No American soldiers have been killed by South Korean since 2000. And that was done by an insane homeless man who heard voices. So puhleessee..don’t spread more unfounded rumors about what happened years ago.

  • K.S
    10:20 pm on December 8th, 2012 90


    Actually, if korean kill korean by traffic accident, they have to deserve punishment: may be go to jail. but not judge no guilty.
    Important is if you make crime or not, it’s no matter where come.

    i’m so sorry to hear that. may be.. I think, that time which you suffered hardship was after US soldiers was declared not guilty.

    That time I was young, so I can’t remember exactly. but after that judgement, korean was angry. we think it’s not fair.

    Like many american can’t distinguish asian nation, we was same.
    if your skin is white, then some people consider as american. because korea most have been effected US than other country. we just see as american sight.

    I don’t know that ->some American soldiers were attacked (one was killed) in the months following this.

    but whoever, they have to pay their guilty for victim right and social justice

  • Ole Tanker
    10:20 pm on December 8th, 2012 91

    Tom #83.

    I never heard a soldier or civilian “joke” about the 2 girls getting run over, everyone thought it was a tragedy.

    But, I do know of one older Korean man(Mr. Hwang) who laughed giddely about the people jumping off of the World Trade Center on 9/11, so funny to see those flaying arms and legs.

    The same guy cried when relating about North Koreans eating their own children.

    I could never figure out how this guy could find the 9/11 incident amusing.

    He was a typical Korean older guy.

  • Don'tCriticizePatrioticAmerica
    10:36 pm on December 8th, 2012 92

    Sure, Ole Tanker, typical Korean man jokes about jumpers at 9/11 and laughs evily muhahahahaha… while rubbing their paws together, sure. :roll:

  • JoeC
    10:55 pm on December 8th, 2012 93


    In the American justice system, if no intent or negligence can be proven, it’s possible to be found to be an accident where no one is at fault. I understand that that perception is different in the Korean justice system where there is an expectation that someone is at at fault and must be found guilty. Some Americans here who are not covered under the US military’s in-the-line-of-duty protection have been shocked to find out that even if someone runs out in front of their car and is hit, they (the driver) will always be found to be at fault.

    In the situation of this accident, was there negligence? Reading through the whole article there seems to have been many places where there was negligence. However, in the public rush to fix blame on the vehicle operators, much of the negligence that existed elsewhere went unnoticed.

    It’s like a plane with faulty parts that is directed to fly a mission near a populated area. If the plane fails, the crew has to eject and the plane hits an occupied home, are the plane’s crew members guilty of a crime?

  • K.S
    12:34 am on December 9th, 2012 94


    well I think. military troop have negligence , not to driver.
    In korea, because of small country, sometimes, military troop be built near small town. so if they go out for training with tank, they have to charge that inform people for prevention using road during training. but by driver statement, they did not.

    After accident, we also try to investigate accident, for confirmation a statement, prosecution called driver, but US troop did not to send..

    So government asked to giving jurisdiction, (because of SOFA, if US troop did not agree, korea government can’t investigate US soldier crime.)

    but they rejected our asking, and judged ‘not guilty’ without our opinion. there was only US troop judge.

    yes. your right. korea justice system different with america justice system. our system is similar Germany justice system.
    if driver take judge in our court, they might judge accidental homicide, even though they did not go to jail.

    well maybe.. korean just angered that we couldn’t do anything even our little girls death. (that make us more sad)

    anyway. I want to tell you Mi-seon father words after 10 year (2012)
    “at first I was so sad but I didn’t think, they make dead intentionally. I hope diver become free from guilt.”

  • NachoGrande
    7:31 pm on December 9th, 2012 95

    Tom: you make some good points. Also, after the Apolo Ohno incident in Salt Lake City, there were some Koreans putting up pro-bin Laden websites and praising the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the U.S.

    As others have pointed out, the so-called “Sunshine Policy” was an abject failure, as North Korea didn’t reciprocate and start to reform itself. The billions of dollars given to the DPRK has simply made it more dangerous, as witnessed by torpedo attacks which have killed many South Korean sailors, or the shelling of the Yeon-Pyeon Island.

    It also has made Iran more dangerous, since North Korea has conducted extensive trade in nuclear and missile technology with that country, which wouldn’t have been as great if South Korea hadn’t been funneling money to the North. Israel and Saudi Arabia would not be wrong in expressing some anger against South Korea for that, as Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened both of those countries (Saudi abd Israel) before.

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  • KorAmerican
    1:55 am on December 15th, 2012 99

    As a Korean American, the facts posted on this site regarding the above referenced incident angers me. I am angry at the Korean media and its leaders for portraying American soldiers as evil doers who murdered with intent or were “laughing” at having created “roadkill”.

    1> Anti-American leaders (including educators) have taken over the system in Korea and are maintaining an ideology of hatred towards America.

    2> The U.S. military may have had issues with their radio system BUT the GIRLS WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO HAVE BEEN THERE!!!

    Death is always tragic, no matter the circumstances. However, the media was also tasteless in posting pictures of the disfigured girls’ bodies online and in papers. The pictures just incited more negative reaction.

    Lastly, to all the idiotic people protesting against the U.S., GET YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY MEMBERS OUT OF THE STATES BEFORE PROTESTING!

    The hypocrisy behind the anti-American protesters never cease to amaze me – almost every single one of them have relatives or friends who are in the U.S. Most are here legally, some are not. Some came to chase after the American dream, others came to give birth to anchor babies. Bottom line: they are all in the States to “receive” and not “give”.

    A message to native Koreans: It is okay for you, native Koreans, to hate on the U.S. It is your right. However, please stay out of the U.S. If you have friends or family members, please have them leave the U.S. We don’t want you/them here, either! Don’t bother learning English, if you hate the U.S. so much. Learn anything other than American style English and please don’t feel that your entitled ar$e is OWED anything by Americans.

    I love my Korean identity but the way native Koreans have been behaving on the political platform regarding military and anti-American issues really makes me consider otherwise. I love the culture but hate the idiot anti-Americans.

    -Angry Korean American (or should I write, American of Korean descent)-

  • Teadrinker
    2:10 am on December 15th, 2012 100

    Someone was attacked, stabbed. So, I might have confused two different attacks. Remains that someone tried to kill that soldier.


    I was disgusted by the way certain people used the death of these two girls to further their political agenda. I’m happy Koreans nowadays aren’t going to allow themselves to be so easily fooled by these pro-North Korean groups.

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  • pjamese3
    7:06 am on January 16th, 2013 103

    I remember this incident. I was in Korea then. The thing that stuck out in my mind – but was too insensitive and politically incorrect to say – was that the girls bear a little of the blame themselves. In typical Korean style, they kept walking even though a loudass group of tracks were coming up behind them. Now my unit in the States used to share a motor pool with Abrahms tanks, and when you were walking down the vehicle rows and heard them behind you…you got out of the way.

    Same with this. There’s no way those girls didn’t hear or feel the vibrations from the tracks. They should have got off the road or ran ahead to cross the bridge instead of trying to walk along the bridge letting the tracks pass just a few feet from them.

    It was a sad loss of life, but it could have been avoided with a little common sense.

  • AnotherLongDay
    10:59 am on May 9th, 2013 104

    I will always remember this day. I was in the convoy right behind the bridge layers. I was riding along with my CPT in a hummer with a group of LMTVs behind us. We where taking parts to a different part of Twin Bridges. I remember seeing the other convoy approaching and every one in the convoys trying to make room by inching the vehicles closer to the edge of the pavement. Then everything came to a stand still and my CPT dismounted to see if there was a problem. He came running back to grab poncho liners / blankets to cover the bodies and had us set up a Traffic Control Point (TCP) to turn around the vehicles behind us. I remember walking up to inform him that the TCP was set and saw a dozen or so Soldiers standing around the girls, silent, most had tears in their eyes. I had never seen a senior leader cry before. I’m glad you have this page outlining the facts of the situation. I was a young Soldier then and didn’t understand what was going on in the media. I was stationed at Casey and only knew that certain days we couldn’t leave the base or could only leave by going out through Camp Hovey (sp?). We pulled guard at the gates and set up vehicle check points after the Red Cloud incident but I never really understood why. I knew it had been a terrible accident but had never heard that the media was portraying the accident as a blatant murder. Those streets where narrow and dangerous but what was worse was how they had us drive for hours on end with little to no sleep. I will never forget this day and continue to use it as a reminder when ever I give a Convoy Safety Brief.

  • kushibo
    1:59 pm on May 9th, 2013 105

    what was worse was how they had us drive for hours on end with little to no sleep

    This was an accident waiting to happen.

  • Smokes
    3:30 am on November 23rd, 2013 106

    Stumbled upon this while looking for news on that 2ID accident. Having read the stories and seen all the arguments and sensationalism I had never actually seen visuals from the time of the accident. I think it really gives better context to the whole thing:

    (These are pretty raw, if you don’t want to see pictures of dead girls on the road don’t click the link! :x)

    Here’s how it looks today:

    You can see based on the driver’s position and that there’s machinery blocking his view to the front-right that there’s no way he’d of seen them actually getting hit. The right tread’s touching grass and the left is touching the median line so there was literally no more room. Of course this isn’t to say the driver is free of any repsonsbility.

    There’s blame enough for all in this event:
    * Why’d the convoy try to pass knowing those kids were to the right? It should’ve stopped and forced them to get to the other side before passing.
    * Why’d the Korean government find it acceptable to keep roads in such conditions despite the massive buildup in vehicular traffic, why did it also agree to allow immensly wide, slow to control vechicles travel these roads? They are responsible for providing safe lanes of travel.
    * Why’d USFK continue to drive super heavy track vehicles while fully knowing how Koreans aren’t the most aware travellers and that traffic density added to poor road conditions meant sooner or later something real bad was going to happen.
    * Why didn’t the girls get over to the right? You surely could hear that beast coming up the road and I know if it were me I’d of gotten the hell out of there, I’m not one to put my life into the hands of another.

    You can see now via Daum that there’s a sidewalk but as all too often with government, too little too late. There’s still roads in Korea on and off base with heavy traffic and moderate pedestrian traffic with no sidewalks (yeah I’m looking at you USAG Yongsan, you’ve been there like 70 years what the F were you waiting for? :evil:).

    In any case if you’re going to be one of those people who like to use this event to bolster some other argument pro or anti US(FK) that really has nothing to do with this event then I suggest right before you do so to look at those photos and get it deep in your head that you’re using those dead girls, you should be ashamed.

    (And here’s the soapbox, I’m done with it…)

  • ChickenHead
    8:06 am on November 23rd, 2013 107

    Too late, Smokes.

    We have been through this… well… since 2002. Eleven years. There is little you can add to the discussion.

    Yes: Why didn’t the girls walk up the incline out of the roadway when the big, slow, noisy tracked vehicles started to get close.

    No: Did the drivers of the tracked vehicles decide they were going to hunt middle school girls that day.

  • guitard
    8:17 am on November 23rd, 2013 108

    This event, and the protests than followed it, probably generated more discussion than any other event I’ve ever discussed.

    Oddly enough, if the World Cup hadn’t been in full swing in Korea at the time, it might have been even worse.

  • Smokes
    8:34 am on November 23rd, 2013 109

    On the whole look at how complex it was by the time everything had setlled down. What started as an accident turned into a huge mess staring misinformation, ignorance, subversion, ____ism, etc…

    Social poisoning was at its highest in Korea I’d say, thanks to the dubious Roh’s and incompetent LaPorte’s actions. Wouldn’t be surprised if LTG “Grandstand” Honore excaerbated things but haven’t seen anything to indicate as such. :???:

    Makes me wonder why it takes things like this and the Osan Hundcuff’ing to get the RoK and USFK talking to ensure the relationship stays a good one?

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  • SJM
    9:15 pm on April 12th, 2014 111

    Thanks for this post. It’s hard to find detailed information on what actually happened. I know someone who was a KATUSA soldier stationed there during that time, and he has talked about how he was asked to go talk to protestors, but he was afraid of them. It made me very curious about the full story – thanks again.

    I do want to mention one thing after reading all the comments. I don’t think this was the drivers’ fault, but I also disagree with the folks blaming the girls. They were not adults, they were 14, an age where you have really developed a sense of bravado and invincibility, and are much less likely to be careful, especially in the presence of a peer. If it had been two adults walking, it probably would have turned out differently, because they would have had a better sense of danger and not care about following what the other was doing. I’m not saying that better common sense on their part wouldn’t have helped – just that there’s a reason we don’t charge kids with making life and death decisions or send them into dangerous situations. They can’t be expected to be developmentally equipped at that age to handle situations with proper caution.

    Based on comments from those who were there, this seems to be a tragic accident, with the only fault factor being a systemic lack of sufficient caution by command. Several other commenters have mentioned this incident’s use in training, now. It’s very sad that a lack of caution had to be remedied by the death of two kids… but then, that is the case for many major accidents and disasters.

  • Vincent Costanzi
    4:11 am on August 3rd, 2014 112

    I served in Korea Feb 1978-Feb 1979 HHB 2/17FA and luckily we had wheeled vehicles, no tracks and also operated in much rural areas. I looked at the site of former Camp Pelham and was surprised at how built up Sunyu-ri is now. I do remember taking my Gama goat M561 on a mail run to Seoul during the winter and that was harrowing enough.


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