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Wounded Riot Guard Remains Missing for 17th Day

Posted August. 11, 2008 06:49,   


A riot guard who suffered a concussion after being beaten by protesters in a candlelight vigil has been missing for 17 days.

Identified by his surname Lee, the 21-year-old officer from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency and 20 colleagues were attacked by tens of thousands of protesters June 29 in downtown Seoul.

Protesters wielded iron pipes, hammers and square bars for around two hours, smashing Lee’s helmet apart and knocking him unconsciousness.

Lee was diagnosed with a concussion and admitted to a police hospital the same day. He was discharged July 12 after the hospital cited no external problems and negative CT scan results.

He then immediately returned to his unit.

Lee’s mother told reporters over the phone that she could not understand the discharge. Lee reportedly complained of severe head pain until his last day at the hospital, which contradicts the hospital’s statement.

His family has been unable to reach Lee since he left home July 25, the day he was supposed to return to his unit. His mother said, “My son could barely eat due to severe headaches even when he returned home on special leave. I am worried sick that he might’ve fainted on the streets, heaven forbid. I cannot sleep at night anymore.”

An official from Lee’s unit called Lee, who joined the unit in March last year, a mature and thoughtful person. “He set an example for all of us by reaching out to his colleagues despite his own hardship,” the official said.

“I’ve known him for more than a year and he is someone who would never go AWOL for any reason.”

His mother said, “My son was always full of energy while on duty. He means the world to me, a widower. He could’ve been exempt from mandatory service since he’s the only son in 11 generations, but he insisted on doing it to fulfill his obligation to national defense.”

“His unit tells me it’s doing everything to find him but I don’t think they are really committed.”

Lee’s mother broke into tears, saying, “He never complained of pain even when he was sick before, but it was different this time. He was easily irritated because of headaches. I should’ve persuaded him not to get discharged early even when he said he didn’t want a disgraceful exit.”