[EDITORIALS]Be rational in protestsDespite a relayed apology from U.S. President George W. Bush, protests against the recent acquittal of two American soldiers involved in the June road deaths of two South Korean girls have increased. Demonstrations have been held one after another, and Internet users have sent email en masse to the White House to lodge complaints. A candlelit service on Sunday night caused the streets of downtown Seoul to glow brightly.
Few Koreans accepted the "not guilty" verdicts of the U.S. courts-martial, which said there were two victims but no wrongdoers. And yet the jurisdiction over the accident belongs to the U.S. Forces here, and South Koreans should no longer persist in our sense of legal justice because there are clear distinctions between the two countries' justice systems and cultures. We have stressed such points repeatedly. What is important at this point is eliminating unfair clauses from the current Status of Forces Agreement between the two countries so that any similar tragedy will never happen again. If this incident contributes to fair and reciprocal relations between South Korea and the United States in the 21st century, that will be the most valuable way to sublimate the two girls' sacrifices.
The emotional responses to the current SOFA have turned into a social movement of anti-Americanism, and that is our chief concern. Some argue that the U.S. troops here provided the root cause, demanding the military to withdraw from the peninsula. Others demanded that the courts-martial be voided and the two acquitted soldiers be tried in a local court, making unrealistic claims.
It is not the right time to fuel anti-American sentiment with admonishing lectures on the SOFA at elementary and middle schools, or to sing anti-American songs. The deaths of the two teenage girls and anti-American sentiment must be dealt with separately and rationally. By using a calm strategy, the domestic justice system and human rights conditions, which have long been blamed for the U.S. demands of privileges, will likely be improved.
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