The four went on the rampage in the subway station in May and beat Cho who tried to stop them, causing him injuries requiring three weeks of treatment, the prosecution claimed.
On May 19, 1995, a group of American soldiers got into a fight with a group of Koreans on a subway in downtown Seoul (either line 3 or 4), which led to an outpouring of anti-Americanism in Korea which focussed on calls to revise the Status Of Forces Agreement regarding how U.S. soldiers are treated in the court system in Korea. I first read about this incident here.
This New York Times article is the earliest article I could find about the incident. It was written before the trial and describes the what happened from the soldier's point of view, which is ever-so-slightly different from the Korean media and prosecutor's point of view. Here are the more important parts:
Subway Brawl Inflames Issue of G.I.'s in KoreaHere are three contemporary articles from the Korea Times:
August 24, 1995
It all began when an American soldier put his hand on a Korean woman's rump.
The version that has captured the local imagination is that a group of drunken American soldiers were rampaging through the subway, molesting Korean women, and that the soldiers then attacked good citizens who dared protest the errant hand.
The American understanding of events starts with a fact that the Koreans tend to leave out: The American soldier and the Korean woman whose behind he patted were in fact a married couple.
The Americans say the problems arose when some angry young Koreans on the subway accused the American of sexually harassing the Korean woman. When the Korean woman explained that she was the American's wife, the Korean men allegedly spat at her and slapped her -- leading the woman's husband to punch the man who slapped her.
In any case, the result that evening in May was a huge brawl in the subway. It has reverberated through the country and underscored the delicacy of the mission of the 37,000 American military personnel in bases in South Korea.
[American Ambassador James T.] Laney says the problem is not that American soldiers are committing more crimes, but that an irresponsible Korean press is portraying them in a particularly lurid way to an inflamed public.
While cases like the subway incident are seen by Koreans as evidence of the need for protection from rampaging Americans, to Americans they show that they need protection from a skewed local judicial system. After the subway brawl, no Koreans were indicted, but four Americans were.
Two US Servicemen Deny Charges in Seoul Subway Incident in MayPoor 28 year-old Cho Chong-guk, who was left so incapacitated that three weeks of medical treatment were necessary ('You mean my health insurance covers this?!'). It's nice to see that the true victim - a woman who was spit and slapped on - was given a 500,000 won fine, while the men who spit on and slapped her weren't even indicted. Considering how, in this case, it was said that Korean witnesses' testimony are given more weight than foreigners, why would the Korean victim be punished?
Two United States Forces Korea servicemen indicted on suspicion of assaulting a Korean man in a Seoul subway station during a brawl in May, yesterday flatly denied they beat him during the first session of a trial for the "subway incident" which stirred up anti-American sentiment among Korean people. Serg.  and the other defendant said that they did not beat Koreans and rather they were beaten by Koreans while trying to stop them assaulting [the sgt.]'s Korean wife, , at the Chungmuro Station on May 19.
The trial is being held at the Seoul District Court, and is presided over by Judge Kim Tong-hwan. The American soldiers were prosecuted without physical detention on charges of violating the Law on the Punishment of Violent Acts.
They allegedly ganged up to beat Cho Chong-guk, 28, who was trying to stop them from creating a disturbance at the subway station late at night. Cho suffered an injury requiring three weeks of medical treatment. He later staged a two-day hunger strike in front of the U.S. compound in Yongsan, demanding the punishment of the U.S. servicemen involved. Meanwhile, the court fined [another] Corporal and [the sgt.'s wife] 1 million won and 500,000 won for their involvement in the violence, the penalty sought by prosecutors, in a summary judgement.
I guess when you match a Korean woman's testimony (especially one who was married to a - gasp - foreigner) against a Korean man's testimony, the woman was more likely to lose. Of course that was back in 1995, and I'm sure such discrimination (against Korean women or foreigners) does not occur today.
US Sgt. Involved in Subway Brawl in May Given 6-Month Jail TermIt's good to see that the prosecution put so much work into figuring out who was truly responsible.
One of the four off-duty U.S. servicemen and a dependent involved in the alleged beating of a Korean in a subway station in Seoul in May was found guilty as charged and given a six-month jail term yesterday. Judge Kim Tong-hwan of the Seoul District Court sentenced Sgt. , 31, to six months in jail for violating the Law on Punishment of Violent Acts. Prosecutors had demanded one year behind bars. [The Sgt.] is entitled to an automatic appeal and he will not have to start to serve the sentence until the legal process reaches its end in accordance with the Korea-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).
Cpls.  and , and [the Sgt.]'s wife, three others involved in the case, were slapped with fines of 500,000 won, 1 million won and 500,000 won respectively as the prosecution demanded. In the ruling, Judge Kim said, "A jail term was given to the accused  because it was proven beyond reasonable doubt that he beat Cho Chong-guk, 28 in Chungmuro Subway Station in Seoul as charged." "[The accused] has shown no signs of remorse but rather argued that he was the victim in this incident, which made it impossible to settle the case with Cho out of court," he said.
The four went on the rampage in the subway station in May and beat Cho who tried to stop them, causing him injuries requiring three weeks of treatment, the prosecution claimed. They were indicted without physical detention on May 19.
US GI's Sentence in Subway Brawl Commuted to Fine From Prison TermHow thoughtful of the Seoul District Court.
Two United States servicemen involved in a brawl in the Seoul subway last May were given fines yesterday, instead of prison terms, in an appeal to the Seoul District Court. [Sgt.], 32, who had been given a six-month prison term by a lower court, was fined 1.5 million won (some 1,900 dollars), and , 24, was fined 500,000 won (some 610 dollars) for their violent acts in the subway.
The subway brawl a year ago fueled strong anti-U.S. feelings here and led to a campaign to revise the Status of Forces Agreement Korea has with United States Forces Korea.
Giving the lighter punishment, the bench said, "The court clearly finds the defendants guilty of violent acts, but has decided not to hand down prison terms because of concern over the negative effects these would have on their service careers."