중앙데일리

Police officers discover roots in Korea

Nov 12,2007
Monica Sun Svenningsen
Monica Sun Svenningsen felt at home in Korea last month, when she was surrounded by fellow police officers, all ethnic Koreans, from around the world who had been invited to their motherland for a cultural program.
The 34-year-old Norwegian chose police work over music, which she studied four years in college. Petite at under 160 centimeters, or 5-foot-3, she feels lucky to have landed a police job just after Norway scrapped a height requirement for police officers.
It was like coming home: One could say she had been around police officers since her birth. “I stayed in a police station right after I was born, so I started my career pretty early,” said Svenningsen during a recent interview at a Seoul hotel. As a newborn infant, she was abandoned on the stairs of a police station in Seoul in 1975. Svenningsen was brought to Holt Children’s Services in the city, from where she was adopted by a Norwegian family at the age of 22 months.
Now a mother of two, she came back to Korea for the first time. She said she holds no grudge against her biological parents and is looking for them.
“I believe they had their reasons, and I am sure they were good reasons for giving up a child,” she said. “I believe that was the only choice they got, and that was not an easy choice to make. I have no bitterness.”
Svenningsen was one of the participants in the Program for Ethnic Korean Police Officers for a week in late October, hosted by the Korean National Police Agency. The annual program, established last year, invited 15 police officers from 10 countries this year.
The program this year included visits to Korean police agencies, tours of industrial and tourist sites and introduction to different aspects of Korean culture.
Don Verhoeven, 36, a participant from the Netherlands, was also an adoptee looking for his roots. He found his Korean father 10 years ago, but not his mother, who had divorced his father.
The search, however, was not the only purpose to join the program, Verhoeven said. His Korean name is Shim Dong-seop.
“It was a golden opportunity for me to come here and learn more about the Korean people, especially the police, because before I came here just as a tourist,” he said.
Verhoeven said he became a police officer after serving in the military police during compulsory military service, which has since been scrapped, in the Netherlands.
“It gives me much fulfilment to be able to help people,” he said, “and to know that I can do something to make social life better for other people by protecting them, even in a small part.”
The desire to help people is a common motive for people who don the police uniform, David Hyun Park, a police officer from Canada who was among the program participants, observed. Park, 38, said the impulse also forms a bond among police officers in the world.
“It’s been just three or four days since we first met, but we are already enjoying each other’s company,” Park said. “It’s a feeling of oneness that those in other jobs hardly experience.” Luis Agustin Cho, 32, agrees. The only policeman of Korean origin in Argentina, Cho said his life is under threat every day in dealing with armed drug dealers.
“Here with other police officers, I feel comfortable and feel close to them,” Cho said. “We work in different countries, but share the same difficult duties as police and pride in living a righteous life.”

By Moon Gwang-lip Staff Writer [joe@joongang.co.kr]



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