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Police Nab 5 Anti-U.S. Beef Protest Leaders

Posted November. 07, 2008 00:16,   


Police took into custody yesterday five leaders of anti-U.S. beef protests who had slipped away late last month after hiding for months in Seoul’s Jogye Temple.

Taken from a hotel in Donghae, Gangwon Province, were Park Won-seok, 38, and Han Yong-jin, 44, co-directors of the People`s Association for Measures against Mad Cow Disease; Baek Seong-gyun, 30, president of MichinCow.net; Kim Dong-gyu, 34, policy director of the People’s Solidarity for Social Progress; and Kwon Hye-jin, 35, general director of the Center for Education Movement.

Park’s recent interview with the online news site Ohmynews was the decisive clue in providing their whereabouts. Based on a photo taken in the interview, police made their way to a café in the Shinchon district of western Seoul.

Park also had called the café to ask if he had left his shoes there.

The call was traced to an apartment-style hotel in Shinchon and Park’s cell phone number was confirmed on the hotel guest list. Police also identified his car with the help of surveillance camera footage.

By tracking the location of his cell phone, police found out that Park was staying at a hotel in Donghae. Twelve detectives were immediately dispatched to the coastal city early yesterday morning.

The Korean playing cards “hwatu” were also instrumental in nabbing the five suspects.

One of the five fugitives phoned a hotel employee to bring a deck to their room, but he refused. Kwon then left the hotel to get a deck from his car, and was quickly arrested after police saw him enter the hotel with the cards and snacks.

Afterwards, police sent an employee to the fugitives’ room with the cards to assess the scene and number of people in the room. Officers raided the room soon after the employee delivered the deck.

“When we entered the room, Park Won-seok, Baek Seong-gyun and Han Yong-jin were playing cards,” said a source from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. “Around them were 100-won coins and 1,000-won bills that they appeared to have been betting with.”

The anti-mad cow disease association, however, claimed the five did not play cards, but said they did ask the hotel’s front desk clerk to bring a deck to disguise themselves as tourists.

The fugitives were taken to Jongno Police Station in central Seoul early yesterday morning, and were questioned after talking to their attorneys. They reportedly kept a tight lip on who helped them escape from Jogye Temple in Seoul and hid them.

Police will seek arrest warrants against the five today and seek to apprehend four more protest leaders who remain at large. The four are Lee Seok-haeng, 50, chairman of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions; Oh Jong-ryul, 70, co-chairman of the People’s Solidarity for Social Progress; Ju Je-jun, 38, general secretary of the People’s Solidarity for Social Progress; and Kim Kwang-il, 34, a steering committee member at All Together.

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