On Saturday, June 10, Korean singers boycotted a government-backed concert by refusing to perform for United States Forces Korea troops after Korean protesters and netizens voiced their bitterness about the accident that killed two Korean girls in 2002.
The municipal government of Uijeongbu in Gyeonggi Province organized the concert to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 2nd Infantry Division, which is stationed in the city. USFK commander Vincent Brooks, the 8th U.S. Army commanding general Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal, 50 officers and 400 soldiers as well as more than 3,000 civilians attended the free concert at the Uijeongbu Sports Complex,as reported by The Korea Times.
The artist who were invited, including Insooni, EXID, Oh My Girl, Sweet Sorrow, punk band Crying Nut and rapper SanE, did not perform at the concert. Revered Insooni, whose own father was an American solider stationed in Korea in the past, informed the concerts audience that she would not be performing her set list of three songs at the concert. The concert was ultimately shortened down to performances by the 8th Army Band, the city orchestra, a dancing troupe, a Korean traditional music band and taekwondo demonstration.
June 13th is the 15-year anniversary of the Yangju highway incident that claimed the lives of two 14-year-old Korean school girls Shin Hyo Sun and Shim Mi Seon, who were struck by an U.S. Army armored vehicle-launched bridge that was returning to base on a public road after doing training maneuvers in the countryside. This incident caused national outrage.
Even though the unit commander apologized and compensation was paid, two soldiers were found not guilty of killing the students because a U.S. military court at Camp Casey in Dongducheon ruled their deaths were an accident. The decision triggered a series of anti-American protests. To this day, the incident lays heavy on the hearts of some Koreans and thus, the concert was protested against as it would be disrespectful to the young girls who lost their lives 15 years ago.
The concert took place three days ahead of the day when the accident happened in 2002. Companies of the singers received anonymous threats not to perform, apparently due to anti-U.S. sentiment.
“Fans called our office and also left comments on the band’s fan club site and each member’s SNS pages to demand the stars not show up at the event. We discussed about the aggressive attention, which persisted for three days, and decided the band had better not be there.” EXID’s agency, Banana Culture Entertainment, told The Korea Times.
“The event was prepared to strengthen the bilateral friendship and Korea’s national security,” an associate of the event organizer said. “I am worried that the lackluster event might have done the opposite.”