China's embassy in Seoul encouraged Chinese students in local universities to turn out for the torch's appearance Sunday, providing thousands of flags and helping to arrange transportation.**I support the right of the Chinese to wave flags and "protest the protesters" in any country. And if Beijing wants to supply them with flags, fine. What cannot be tolerated under any circumstances is the physical abuse of peaceful demonstrators. Seoul is right to stand up for Korean protesters who were harmed or harassed.
Some of those students attacked South Koreans who were protesting China's treatment of North Korean refugees and Tibetan Buddhists. In video and pictures of the event, dozens of students are seen hurling rocks, bottles and garden tools at a relatively small group of protesters at the start of the relay route. . . .
Another melee occurred at the end of the route, where students attacked protesters carrying Tibetan flags and police in a hotel lobby. In all, about a dozen protesters, police and journalists were injured.
Negative feelings about the incidents grew in South Korea on Monday and Tuesday as TV broadcasters supplemented their own footage with photos and video captured by amateurs. South Korea's Foreign Ministry expressed concerns to China's ambassador, who expressed regret on Monday.
And on Tuesday, South Korea said it will deport Chinese students that it could identify from the abundant news footage. Prime Minister Han Seung-soo said South Korea's national pride had been damaged by the incidents.
*I have been covering the Olympic torch relays in Asia, live-blogging the Bangkok and Jakarta segments.
**CNN reported that Chinese student demonstrators in Bangkok received T-shirts and flags from the Chinese Embassy. This WSJ report supports CNN's finding.