Bar owners say US Forces Korea police solicited bribes, sexual favors
Air Force removes member of Osan ‘town patrol’
By Franklin Fisher
March 30, 2005
Osan Air Base — Base officials here have reshuffled the Air Force police team
that patrols the off-base bar district amid allegations some of its members
shook down Korean bar owners for bribes and sexual favors, officials said.
The airmen raised the threat of having the bars put off-limits to U.S. troops,
according to South Korean media reports and a civic group that mounted a
protest rally outside the base Tuesday.
Air Force Office of Special Investigations agents are probing the allegations,
“The investigation is ongoing and may implicate several others,” stated a news
release issued Tuesday by U.S. Forces Korea.
The shakedowns reportedly involved 51st Security Forces Squadron airmen
assigned to the “town patrol” that patrols the bar district outside the Osan
Air Base main gate.
The Air Force on March 2 announced that an “Airman” from the 51st Security
Forces Squadron “was taken into custody for alleged unprofessional conduct
while serving as a member of the Osan town patrol.”
Stars and Stripes on Tuesday requested, but did not receive, an interview with
51st Security Forces commander Lt. Col. Randall Richert or others in the line
of authority over the squadron.
Without naming a suspect in the case, the USFK release Tuesday said the town
patrol member taken into custody March 1 is currently in “confinement” at Camp
Humphreys “awaiting charges.”
About 10 protesters staged a peaceful 30-minute rally across the street from
the base main gate Tuesday. Some held a banner while speakers’ remarks blared
from a sound truck. Scores of blue-clad South Korean riot police were on the
After the demonstration, Kim Yong-han, who represented what he called the Task
Force To Oppose The Expansion of the U.S. Bases in Pyongtaek, said bar owners
had told him of occasions when town patrol members would enter a bar and
pretend to notice a violation of some type, in some instances of health or fire
safety codes. They then would mention that the ostensible violation was grounds
for making the bar off-limits, Kim said.
Some owners, said Kim, would offer a bribe — at times in the form of sexual
If town patrol members deem an establishment unsafe for U.S. military personnel
or believe it is a venue for prostitution, human trafficking, underage drinking
or other illicit activity, they can recommend that Osan Air Base authorities
declare it off-limits to U.S. military personnel.
The South Korean newspaper Joong Ang Daily on Tuesday quoted one shop owner as
saying: “If your club is tagged ‘off limits’ it’s like a death sentence. Most
shops here are exclusively geared toward U.S. personnel. One month is enough to
put a club out of business.”
Stars and Stripes
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