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Man booked for alleged assault on Japanese woman

Suspect claims attack had nothing to do with Tokyo tensions
Aug 27,2019
Police booked a 33-year-old man on Monday for allegedly assaulting a Japanese woman near Hongik University in western Seoul last week.

“We are still investigating if he verbally abused the victim,” Mapo Police Precinct told the press on Monday.

Photos uploaded by the Japanese woman on her Twitter account around 6:10 p.m. Friday show the man appearing to assault her, with at least one photo showing the woman on the ground and the man pulling her hair with his right hand and holding up his left hand, as if he’s about to strike her.

The alleged victim wrote that a Korean man approached her and began bothering her, and when she ignored him, he swore at her, grabbed her hair and assaulted her.

The post went viral almost immediately, with more than 14,000 retweets and 850 messages written in response within four hours of its publication on Twitter. It had 136,000 retweets as of Monday afternoon.

After identifying the man and woman, Mapo police called in the two for questioning on Saturday.

Following the questioning, the suspect told the press that he had not assaulted her and that “the photos have been edited to frame me.”

In an interview with YTN, he said, “I did have an argument with the Japanese women at the time, but we apologized to each other.” He told the media outlet that he was on his way home in the early morning on Friday when he came across six Japanese women near the Hongik University area. He said that because he was interested in learning Japanese, he tried to make small talk with them.

Then he said that the women started making derogatory comments about his looks and even swore at him. In the argument that broke out, he said that he did grab one woman’s hair but that he did not hit her.

“He did apologize,” the woman reportedly told police. “But it was not a sincere apology. I hope there is fair and strict punishment for [what he did].”

Some of the responses to the woman’s Twitter post were written by Koreans who made apologies for the man’s conduct.

“Hi, I am a Korean,” wrote one user. “As a fellow Korean, I am ashamed of what he did and am very sorry for what happened. I apologize as a Korean.”

“This is terrible,” wrote another user. “I know the bilateral relations have soured lately, but this is a crime. The perpetrator must be punished.”

The man denied harboring ill feelings toward Japan. “[What happened] has nothing to do with the recent Japan-Korea relations,” the man told YTN. “I am sorry for causing troubles.”

Relations between Japan and Korea have deteriorated lately over an escalating spat about the Korean Supreme Court’s rulings last year that Japanese companies should compensate Korean victims of forced labor during the Japanese annexation of Korea (1910-1945), as well as trade restrictions levied by Japan on exports to Korea earlier this month and Korea pulling out of the military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan last week.

BY KIM SUNG-RYONG, PARK SA-RA [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]