Three Ewha students were summoned by Seodaemun-gu Police Agency for charge of leading the confinement of five Board of Trustees including professors and faculties. The three students include president and vice president of Student Government Association (SGA), and co-president of College of Education.
The police agency demanded the students attend an investigation on Aug. 26 at 10 a.m. However, on Aug. 25, the summoned students asked to delay the attending date to Sept. 2 for personal reasons.
Prior to the investigation, the school had submitted petitions several times for exemption of punishment, despite the fact that petitions will only be taken as a reference, unable to stop the police summoning the students, according to the police. A petition by President Choi was submitted to Seodaemun-gu Police Agency and Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency on Aug. 5 and another petition under the name of President Choi and academic board was submitted on Aug. 23. Also, the Board of Trustees submitted a petition on Aug. 25. The school also suggested to provide legal aid for the summoned students, but the students refused to take it.
By analyzing KakaoTalk records and call logs, CCTVs as well as statements of the Board of Trustees, the police singled out three students as the leading suspects. The police confirmed that the suspects discussed to demand a conversation with the school president Choi Kyung-hee and her resignation, and whether to continue the sit-down protest or not on Kakao Talk. However, since the text records during the time of confinement had been deleted, the police was unable to find the conversation record over their suspicion.
On Sept. 2, the summoned students attended the investigation at Seodaemun-gu Police Agency. Before the attendance, they revealed that they would remain silent in the investigation. The investigation was taken individually. The last one who left the agency was the President.
Clashes around “imprisonment” vs “confrontation”
Meanwhile, the protesting students held a press conference on the same day, asking the Board of Directors to give a response to the call for police investigation, there remains President Choi's resignation.
With regard to the police investigation, there remains an unresolved matter of legal interpretation whether the confinement of the Board of trustees by protesting students had been legal or not. While the police view the act as an imprisonment, students claim it was a mere confrontation that was conducted peacefully as the Board of Trustees chose to stay in the room.
The difference in point of view dates back to July 28, when there was a sit-in protest of 200 Ewha students for withdrawal of LiFE (Light Up Your Future in Ewha) College at the Main Hall. The Board of Trustees gathered in a room to organize further plans for LiFE College, but could not proceed the meeting because President Choi did not show up. Then, the SGA demanded that the members sign an agreement for withdrawing the plan before leaving the room. The Board of Trustees could not come out of the meeting room for 46 hours, and reports claim that they felt uncomfortable and were forbidden by the students to move around freely. The trustees were released after the intervention of the police. The police agency revealed that there were 23 reports to the agency by the school authorities to the police, and the police had to intervene in response.
Another challenge for police investigation is to find individuals responsible for the act that all demonstrators defined as a spontaneous and democratic act of resistance. They claimed that there were no specific people who led the protest; rather, all students took the leading roles which is why the police should not accuse only a few students as suspects. So as to hold their ground on this point, more than 5,000 students and alumni are making a round robin by signing their names on a document in a non-hierarchical, circular pattern to show they were all leaders in the protest. Aside from this, the SGA is planning to hold a student meeting at Welch-Ryang Auditorium on Sept. 12 to clinch their demands on school.