Mar 8, 2007

Blue Wall of Silence in the Land of the Morning Calm

The below article, appearing in the Chosun Ilbo today, displays the general attitude of many police in Korea. Police are too willing to protect other police who break the law.

Here, a police Commissioner General allegedly was caught saying that police should "take it easy" on other police who violate drunk driving laws. Is the Commissioner General ordering his subordinates to not arrest police that drive drunk? As in most countries, drunk driving is one of the leading causes of death.

If a death occurs that is found to be caused by a police officer driving drunk, we must question if the officer was not deterred from driving drunk because of the attitude of the Commissioner General. I suspect if an accident between a drunk cop and a citizen occurs, maybe no citizen will ever know about it. The Blue Wall of Silence is present and flourishing in the Land of the Morning Calm.

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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com




Police Corruption? Just Blame the Press

Lee Taek-soon, the police commissioner general, brought 340 internal affairs officers together at a gathering and told them, “It broke my heart to see a rise in the number of arrested police officers during a crackdown on gambling arcades last year. Mistakes can be made if you have friendly ties with owners of gambling halls, but there are people who try to make big news out of them.” The police commissioner rented an expensive hotel to hold a seminar on how to root out corruption within the ranks and then used that event to blame the news media for the rise in corruption-related arrests of police officers.

In September last year, right after a nationwide scandal erupted over a chain of gambling arcades paying off police and government officials, Lee said, “The level of collusion between police and owners of gambling arcades is serious. We need to take radical measures to clean up the force.” Judging from the words that come out of his mouth now, the vow was anything but genuine.

He also said police officers caught drunk driving try to run away because the punishment is too harsh. He then instructed police to take it easy with them, adding that such incidents usually do not get media coverage. The reason the public bestowed powers of investigation and arrest on the police is so they can protect the public and maintain law and order. To do that, the police must take the lead in upholding the law. But the head of the police orders his subordinates to condone offenses committed by officers, by a sort of gangster logic that you don’t do it to your own. The head of a government agency should care for his own people by defending its position with sound reasoning. But the police commissioner seems to feel the best way to be loyal to his government is to blame the news media, since that’s what the president, his chief of staff and government ministers are doing.