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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on June 13)

2017/06/13 07:01

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Ruining US 2ID's centennial party

The disruption of a concert is worth looking at from the standpoint of the top brass of the U.S. military and members of its mainstay, the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division (2ID). In Uijeongbu, north of Seoul, Saturday, the concert to celebrate the centennial of the division, also known as Indianhead, was disrupted as singers didn't show up, and the same performances had to be staged twice and was cut short well ahead of schedule.

Among the spectators were 2ID commander Maj. Gen. Theodore Martin, the 8th U.S. Army commander Lt. Gen. Thomas S. Vandal, U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Vincent Brooks and hundreds of soldiers from the division and its Korean sister the 26th ROK Army Division. The 2ID was the first unit that was dispatched by the U.S. after the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War and has been stationed here ever since.

Insooni, a popular singer born to a Korean mother and a GI father, and punk group Crying Nut took the stage to apologize for not being able to perform without elaboration. Other performers didn't even bother to show up.

Then, a municipal traditional dancing troupe performed twice to make up for the no-show performers. The concert ended 30 minutes ahead of schedule, shortly after Gen. Brooks arrived late due to prior functions.

Both American and Korean attendees were taken by surprise as they were not fully informed about what was happening. One attendee said, "I am worried how American soldiers will think about their service. After all, they put their lives on the line to defend Korea."

   A Korean who served with the Americans but didn't attend the concert said, "2ID serves as a tripwire to hold off invasion by the North until reinforcements come from the U.S. It is like a birthday party ruined and nothing less than that."

   The cause for the disrupted concert were protests by NGOs over the fact Uijeongbu, the host of the concert, used the city's budget for the concert, which they said would have been better used for its elevated light rail transportation system. Also leading the picket line was a civic group opposing the concert that was held three days before the anniversary of the deaths of two girls crushed by a U.S. armored vehicle during a training mission.

The concert was proposed and staged by the city, a frontier town that has relied on the U.S. forces for a large portion of its revenue. The city could have handled the situation better by rescheduling the event or changing the venue or doing a proper job of persuading the NGOs but it just pressed ahead.

Now, the 2ID members have seen their birthday party tarnished and surely might feel unappreciated for their service. The tragic death of the two girls has lost its chance to be remembered more broadly. The fear is that the ROK-U.S. alliance is being further damaged.

(END)

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