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 Tuesday, 31 December, 2002, 16:32 GMT
US policy stokes South Korea anger
Seoul demonstrators
Protesters have a number of grievances against the US
Thousands of people have been taking part in an anti-American demonstration in the South Korean capital, Seoul.

Oppose US pressure on North Korea, no more war on the Korean peninsula

Protest banner
The rally was originally called as a protest against the controversial acquittal of two soldiers following a road accident in which two South Korean teenagers died.

However, public anger has also been fuelled by the United States' approach to North Korea over its decision to restart a nuclear programme.

More than 10,000 police were deployed to prevent rioting and buses were used to block planned marches on the US embassy.

But the rally, which coincided with New Year celebrations, was largely peaceful.

Weapons doubts

People sang songs and chanted slogans by candlelight in the city centre in protest against the deaths in June of Shin Hyo-Sun and Shim Mi-Sun, who were crushed to death by a US military vehicle while on their way to a birthday party.

Sign at the e-ZENO restaurant in Seoul
The soldiers' trial increased anti-US feeling
There were calls, as in previous protests, for the two US soldiers cleared of negligent homicide over the incident to be retried, and for the Status of Forces Agreement (Sofa) stipulating US jurisdiction over its troops to be revised.

But many demonstrators were also critical of US efforts to get North Korea to stop its nuclear programme.

"Oppose US pressure on North Korea. No more war on the Korean peninsula," read a banner held by one of the protesters.

Others said they doubted whether Pyongyang's nuclear weapons, if they existed, were directed at South Korea.

"I don't think North Korea is going to aim them at South Korea," protester Min Keong-min told Reuters news agency.

"The North probably built them to protect itself from the United States."


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