Despite being one of the largest cities in the world, Seoul is incredibly safe and quiet. In a strangely action-packed incident last Saturday afternoon, Seoul police were involved in a high-speed chase with shots fired.
After receiving reports that there individuals firing air guns and threatening people outside the Hamilton Hotel, police arrived on scene, but the shooters immediately tried to escape. In doing so, one of the responding officers was hit by the escape vehicle, and fired three shots and hit the driver in his shoulder.
This was followed by a 30 minute chase through the city, in which the police lost the suspect vehicle. It was later discovered that the two men involved in the shooting incident were US soldiers, and the driver had sought treatment for his gunshot wound in a US military hospital.
Under the current set of laws between the United States and Korea, all soldiers accused of being involved in criminal activity are handed over to the local police who are given an opportunity to prosecute first.
In the past there have been a multitude of incidents involving US soldiers, often in the Itaewon area. In response, the army has had to impose limits on the areas in which GIs are allowed to spend their time, as well as curfews and other restrictions. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the United States has had a continuous military presence in South Korea since 1950.
Hopefully, the incident won’t reflect poorly on the United States, nor their service men and women. Having lived here and encountered many members of the US Armed Services over the past three years, I can vouch that the vast majority of them are disciplined, respectful, and honorable.