Several students climbed over a wall surrounding the residence of Ambassador Harry Harris on Friday using ladders, according to photos they posted on Facebook.
Carrying a banner reading “Leave this soil, Harris,” the protesters called for an end to the US military presence in their country. They shouted “Stop interfering in our domestic affairs” and “We don’t need US troops.”
The students, who identify themselves as a coalition of progressives, said they broke into the ambassador’s home in protest against the US demand that Seoul increase its share of the cost of keeping some 28,500 American troops in South Korea.
The US and South Korea are currently engaged in cost-sharing negotiations, and the next round of the talks is scheduled for October 23-24.
US ramps up shakedown for cash from South KoreaUS President Donald Trump meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in New York suggested Seoul would purchase more US weapons.
Police later forced the protesters out of the residence and detained 19 students for questioning.
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry denounced the incident, saying it had requested stepped-up security for the residence and the US Embassy.
“Any harm or attack on such a diplomatic mission cannot be justified under any circumstances, and the government will take all appropriate measures to protect the missions and prevent any acts that disturb their well-being,” it said in a statement.
The American military presence in South Korea has stoked anti-US sentiments in the country. The American military personnel have on many occasions caused outrage by committing various crimes, including rape and assault.
The US forces were put under curfew in July after a drunken soldier attempted to steal a taxi and hit a Korean National Police officer in the process.
Last month, the US Forces Korea (USFK) suspended the curfew for 90 more days as “an opportunity for USFK uniformed personnel to demonstrate their ability to maintain good order and discipline, at all times and under all conditions.”
The Pentagon insists the troops are in South Korea to deter alleged threats from North Korea.