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Japanese man arrested in South Korea for assaulting taxi driver

By Elizabeth Shim
A South Korean taxi driver notified police after he was repeatedly assaulted by an intoxicated passenger, Seoul's Gangnam district police said Thursday. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
A South Korean taxi driver notified police after he was repeatedly assaulted by an intoxicated passenger, Seoul's Gangnam district police said Thursday. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

Sept. 5 (UPI) -- A Japanese man in his 30s has been arrested in South Korea for assaulting an older taxi driver while under the influence of alcohol.

The incident is roiling South Koreans amid ongoing tensions between the two countries that began with Japanese trade restrictions targeting South Korean tech companies -- and culminating in Seoul's decision to terminate GSOMIA, a military intelligence-sharing agreement.

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The unidentified Japanese national was intoxicated at the time of his arrest, according to Gangnam district police in Seoul, News 1 reported Thursday.

The man told the South Korean taxi driver, described as a man in his 60s, to take him to a district of clubs in southern Seoul on Saturday, according to the report.

During the cab ride, the man reportedly grew impatient, telling his driver to "hurry up," then without warning hitting the driver on the back of his head. The suspect was with a companion, another Japanese national.

The suspect requested the driver stay on call through the night as he visited different nightlife establishments until 5 a.m. the following day.

The man then asked the driver to take him to a "drinking establishment with women," possibly referring to a place of prostitution. When his driver refused, the suspect assaulted him again.

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South Korean police has arrested the suspect for "committing a crime" and has barred him from leaving the country.

The arrest comes after a South Korean man came under investigation for reportedly assaulting a Japanese woman visiting Seoul earlier in August.

The man, who was seen in uploaded footage, had grabbed the woman by the hair and assaulted her, according to Newsis.

The Japanese victim has said the man attacked her with racist insults, but he has denied the charges. He has also claimed the footage was manipulated.

More than 700,000 tourists from Japan visited South Korea in 2018.

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