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Man Dies After Seoul Self-Immolation

Police say he set fire in his car in front of the Japanese Embassy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 19, 2019 12:27 AM CDT
South Korean police officers stand guard against possible rallies against Japan in front of the building where the Japanese embassy is located in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, July 19, 2019.   (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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(Newser) – A 78-year-old South Korean man died hours after setting himself ablaze near the Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Friday, police said, at a time of worsening tensions between Seoul and Tokyo. The man, surnamed Kim, ignited a fire inside his car parked in front of the building where the Embassy is located. The man died later Friday while being treated at a Seoul hospital, police said. Police said Kim had phoned an acquaintance earlier to say he planned to self-immolate to express his antipathy toward Japan, the AP reports. Police said they'll analyze possible evidence from Kim's mobile phone and investigate people concerned to try to determine the exact motive for his action.

Kim's family told investigators that his father-in-law had been conscripted as a forced laborer when the Korean Peninsula was under Japan's colonial rule from 1910-45, according to a police statement. No suicide note was found. Police earlier said flammable materials were found in the car that Kim borrowed from an acquaintance Thursday. The man's self-immolation comes as ties between Seoul and Tokyo have plunged to their lowest point in decades since Japan recently tightened export controls of some high-tech materials. If his self-immolation is found to be directly related to the Japanese curbs, it would the first such action in South Korea since anti-Japanese sentiments flared up over the trade restriction.

(Read more South Korea stories.)

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