S Koreans protest US base pollution
Mon May 30, 2011 10:1AM GMT
Frank Smith, Press TV, Waegwan
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Hundreds of South Koreans gathered in a small southern town to protest the dumping of Agent Orange on a nearby U.S. military base.
Former U.S. servicemen seeking medical support said they dumped the toxic chemicals in 1978 - leftovers of those American forces used to kill and maim hundreds of thousands in Vietnam. Local leaders suggest the U.S. is dragging its feet in investigating the site.
Under considerable pressure from the Korean public, the U.S. military has began an administrative investigation, citing a 1992 study which said it had buried and then removed some chemicals, but has not admitted to the charges regarding Agent Orange. Politicians demanded several measures.
Leading a lengthy procession of demonstrators to Camp Carroll were Benedictine Monks whose monastery lies adjacent to the U.S. base.
Meanwhile in the capital Seoul, the conservative government sought to play down the furor over the pollution and demonstrate a cooperative approach.
The town near the base is divided on the issue, as banners ask residents not to demonstrate and discourage press coverage.
South Koreans are familiar with the American military polluting their environment. The 2005 film “The Host” the number one box office draw in Korean movie history, draws its inspiration from the contamination of the Han River, which in the film spawns a giant lizard that terrorizes the Korean public.
Following the demonstration, activists marched to Camp Carroll, site of the alleged dumping. They sent their messages into the camp, demanding the site be dug up. Seoul said Monday it would survey land previously hosting U.S. bases as the furor over American forces pollution of South Korea's environment widens.