President vows to punish assailants of Buan governorPresident Roh Moo-hyun said yesterday that persons that took part in Monday’s brutal mob beating of Kim Jong-gyu, governor of Buan county, North Jeolla, should be strictly punished.
Kim was attacked outside a village temple by protesters who oppose a government plan to build a nuclear waste disposal facility on nearby Wido island.
The governor was beaten for 15 minutes until he fell to the ground, bleeding. Mr. Kim suffered a broken nose, a cracked skull, broken ribs, and his lungs were partially filled with blood from the pummeling. About 10 county and police officials were also injured in the attack. Mr. Kim’s car was overturned by the mob and its windows were smashed.
At a cabinet meeting, the president called yesterday for tighter regulation of protests and rallies.
“Diverse opinions should be respected in a democratic society. But no violence should be allowed,” Yoon Tai-young, Blue House spokesman quoted Mr. Roh as saying. “Ministries should go over current regulations on rallies and protests to see whether they need to be revised so that illegal and violent rallies be prevented.”
Prime Minister Koh Gun also issued a statement on the beating of the Buan official. “An inconceivable incident took place. We will bring the legal order back there,” he said.
Mr. Kim was taken to the Chonbuk National University Hospital where he remains. Officials from Seoul, including Kim Doo-gwan, the politically embattled home affairs minister, visited the stricken governor yesterday at the hopsital.
The attack was captured on film and was shown Monday on national television, prompting public outrage. The police said they will be able to pick out those who were responsible from the video and punish them.
The Blue House spokesman, Mr. Yoon, said the Roh administration is following the Buan incident closely. He said at the next cabinet meeting the prime minister will introduce specific measures to punish those involved.
Buan residents put out a statement yesterday saying that they will keep on fighting against the government. “The beating of Mr. Kim took place accidentally,” the statement read. “The ongoing clashes between authorities and Buan residents have been taking place totally because of Mr. Kim who did not seek Buan residents’ permission when he sent an application to the central government to select the county as the nuclear dump site.”
by Choi Hoon, Yoon Chang-hee
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