My guess would be this apology must be something the ROK government recommended to USFK to do in order to get the protesters to stop blockading the road considering it is happening four months after the fact. I guess we will see if this will help lead to the end of the blockade:
Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal, commander of the 8th U.S. Army, apologized Sunday to the people of Seongju over one of his soldiers using a smartphone to film a protest involving physical clashes, smiling as he did so.
The Seongju residents rejected Vandal’s apology, saying it was four months too late.
First, Vandal and his superior officer, U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) commander Gen. Vincent Brooks, should find a better way of dealing with this incident. The protesters should stop using the apology issue for political purposes.
The incident happened in the early hours of April 26 when a convoy of U.S. military vehicles pushed their way through to deliver equipment for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, a U.S. missile interceptor, to the site in the vicinity. Twelve people were injured. A GI in one vehicle was caught filming the scene with a snigger on his face.
For that, Vandal went down to Seongju and bowed at a press conference after the residents refused to meet him. He said the soldier’s behavior was inappropriate and that he was fresh on his Korean tour and had not finished his orientation program.
The residents questioned Vandal’s sincerity because his apology came four months after the incident, despite repeated demands. The residents claimed they felt ignored by Vandal.
Vandal should have apologized earlier. The USFK is often belated in dealing with accidents in relation to Koreans. One example is the 2002 Yangju Highway Incident where a U.S. military vehicle crushed two Korean girls to death. Then, the USFK dragged its feet, letting the incident grow out of proportion in a major PR fiasco. [Korea Times]
You can read more at the link, but the Korea Times in regards to the 2002 Yangju Highway Incident do not know what they are talking about. Both the 8th Army commander and the 2nd Infantry Division commander apologized after the accident happened. 2ID even paid an initial $1,000 payment to the families to assist with funeral expenses. Then 2ID soldiers held a candlelight vigil and fundraising drive in honor of the two girls that were tragically killed. The fundraiser raised $22,000 for the families.
2ID soldiers attend candle light vigil in memory of Shim Mi-son and Shin Hyo-sun.
Finally the USFK commander put the soldiers on court martial strictly for PR purposes despite this being a clear accident. Anyway much more about the 2002 accident can be read at the below link:
GI Flashbacks: The 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident