Maskless beach partiers in Busan Saturday cause complaints

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Maskless beach partiers in Busan Saturday cause complaints

Video footage from Saturday night at Haeundae Beach in Busan shows many people partying without masks on. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Video footage from Saturday night at Haeundae Beach in Busan shows many people partying without masks on. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

 
Up to some 2,000 people partied at Haeundae Beach in Busan last Saturday, many dancing and drinking without masks on, according to the police in Busan.  
 
“We received 38 reports of people at the beach partying and not wearing masks on Saturday night,” a Busan police officer told the JoongAng Ilbo.
 
Arriving at the beach, the police estimated around 1,500 to 2,000 people were there.
 
“Many gathered were foreigners, and many of them didn’t have masks on,” a 31-year-old surnamed Ji told the paper. Ji works at a coffee shop near the beach and saw the crowd as he was going home after work on Saturday.
 
“They had beer bottles and cans in their hands, many of them dancing together,” Ji said.
 
A beach security worker said he received a number of complaints from passersby who asked why they weren’t regulating the party and enforcing social distancing rules.
 
Social distancing guidelines currently in place in Korea ban personal gatherings of more than five people nationwide. Everyone is asked to wear a mask in public spaces and can be fined if caught violating the rules.
 
Videos taken at the beach on Saturday night and shared on social media also show some people setting off fireworks, which is banned at the beach, coronavirus or not.
 
Busan police said they dispatched six teams to the beach on Saturday night after receiving reports, but that they couldn’t send people home because it was such a large crowd.
 
“We didn’t see acts of violence like the ones we’d seen during the July 4 weekend last year,” a police officer said.
 
On the weekend of the U.S. Independence Day last year, a group of Americans were reported to the police for shooting firecrackers toward buildings and Korean passersby near Gunam-ro of Haeundae District in Busan. One American soldier was arrested and fined.  
 
The U.S. Naval Forces Korea is headquartered in Busan. 
 
Last weekend was also Memorial Day weekend in the United States. Authorities are determining how many American soldiers, if any, were among those at the beach not following social distancing guidelines.  
 
“We plan on working with the American military police to try to find out if there were any members [of U.S. forces] and other foreign nationals who might have violated the quarantine rules last weekend at the beach,” said a police officer of the Busan police. “We will have some 70 officers dispatched at the beach to ensure the social distancing rules are followed.”
 
BY HWANG SUN-YOON   [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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