INCHEON, South Korea, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- Violent attacks on a statue of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in Incheon, South Korea, have led five U.S. congressmen to ask for it to be shipped to the United States.
Seoul's Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon has promised that the statue of the general, which stands in Incheon's Freedom Park, will be protected, the South Korean Joong Ang Daily reported Tuesday.
Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee, and four colleagues sent a letter to President Roh Moo-hyun describing MacArthur as a hero who twice liberated the Republic of Korea, first from Japanese occupation and later during the Korean War.
MacArthur traditionally has been respected in South Korea, but early this year left-wing activists began calling him a war criminal and the statue a symbol of American oppression and occupation of South Korea.
Some 4,000 demonstrators armed with bamboo sticks clashed with riot police Sunday in Freedom Park. About 1,000 Korean War veterans defended the statue, hurling eggs and litter at the demonstrators.
South Korea's foreign minister said the protests ran counter to the "mature perception of history by South Koreans."