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Man detained for battering journalists with ladder

Mar 17,2017
The man who slammed an aluminum step-ladder on the heads and shoulders of two journalists reporting on the pro-Park Geun-hye rally at the hour the Constitutional Court ruled Park out of office was detained by authorities on Wednesday.

The man, a 55-year-old surnamed Lee, was arrested by police on Monday in Seoul Plaza, central Seoul, three days after he swung the ladder up high and slammed it down on a Yonhap News Agency reporter and another from KBS.

“I was so angry when I heard the news that the court approved Park’s impeachment,” Lee told police. “That’s why I did it.”

According to the Journalists Association of Korea, some 20 reporters and photojournalists were attacked by protesters while reporting on the pro-Park rally on March 10. Some camera and reporting devices were destroyed in scuffles.

But authorities went after the man only after the association protested in front of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on the evening of March 10.

They said they will go after the suspects when individuals report physical abuse and violence.

“There is a risk that the man might go on the run if he is not detained,” Oh Min-seok, judge of the Seoul Central District Court, said in issuing the detention warrant on Wednesday.

Lee had been working as a day laborer in Seoul for a few decades, according to police.

Authorities said Lee refused to answer questions on how much he supports Park, why he was at the pro-Park rally, and whether he was there as part of an organization or a group.

Police requested a detention warrant for Lee suspecting that he was not being completely honest in his answers.

They charged him for inflicting injury, obstruction of public duty and property damage.

“We are going through his phone records to see if Lee committed the violence on a whim and on his own, or through a direction and plan from an organization,” said a police officer.

The Yonhap News Agency reporter who was racked with the ladder by Lee told media outlets that he was attacked by a mob of rally participants when he tried to get a hold of Lee after he was hit.

He said they took him down to the ground and beat him. He said he is planning on suing Lee.

BY HONG SANG-JI, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]