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US troops advised to observe COVID-19 rules after beach havoc

Civic groups hold rallies in front of the US embassy in South Korea, urging the government to punish the American troops involved in the Fourth of July party that includes fireworks on Haeundae Beach in Busan, on July 7, 2020. (Yonhap)
Civic groups hold rallies in front of the US embassy in South Korea, urging the government to punish the American troops involved in the Fourth of July party that includes fireworks on Haeundae Beach in Busan, on July 7, 2020. (Yonhap)

United States Forces Korea on Tuesday advised its personnel stationed in South Korea to strictly observe the antivirus guidelines the country has been urging local residents to follow in an effort to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

The US military in a Twitter post highlighted wearing a mask, keeping a safe distance from one another and not eating or drinking on beaches, after soldiers caused controversy with a Fourth of July party that included fireworks on Haeundae Beach in Busan.

About 200 police were mobilized to break up the festivities that day after complaints from local residents, with one soldier detained and fined for a misdemeanor after aiming fireworks at police, while others were involved in traffic accidents including one in which the driver was under the influence.

“They practically occupied the road, hampered the traffic flow and flipped off folks around them,” a police officer with knowledge of the matter said. “They installed speakers and played music loud.”

Civic groups held rallies both in Seoul and Busan following the incident to demand an apology from the US military, which later issued a statement to calm public anger.

“All commanders will take appropriate action for those service members determined to be involved in this type of behavior,” the US military said, adding the “deeply troubling” behavior was not representative of the “strong respect” it held for the Korean people.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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