Do Law Enforcement Authorities Serve the Public or the Powerful?

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Do Law Enforcement Authorities Serve the Public or the Powerful?

An ominous pall shadows the economy and functional politics have vanished from the Korean political landscape. Rarely do we hear news of Korean players winning an Olympic medal, and no solution is in sight for the medical stalemate. A typhoon recently brought havoc to the Korean peninsula. Consumer prices keep on rising, along with apprehension of a second financial crisis.

Culture and Tourism Minister Park Jie-won finally decided to hand in his resignation. Despite Park‘s being implicated in a loan scandal, the prosecution was reluctant to investigate the matter. Also, the prosecution hastily announced the investigation results just before the Chusok holiday, a tactic it has employed in the past to hide major corruption scandals.

The hasty announcement heightened public suspicion; the hot topic throughout the Chusok holiday was whether Minister Park had exerted influence in the Hanvit loan scandal and on the branch manager of Korea Credit Guarantee Fund for a loan guarantee. In the end, the prosecution's ambiguous attitude served to shorten Minister Park's term in office.

Meanwhile, a case involving ruling Millenium Democratic Party Representative Park Sang-cheon provided a stark illustration of the status of the nation's police. During the Chusok holidays, when the highways were clogged with endless lines of cars, a police car speedily escorted Park's car in the opposite direction of the traffic for about 1 km. The fury of the people who witnessed the deplorable spectacle as they sat immobile must have been tremendous.

Park claims that he was asleep at the time, however, and did not request the police escort. The police officer explained that Park's car “just happened" to follow him.

Driving on the wrong side of the road is a violation subject to legal punishment. If police witness a crime and fail to act, it clearly constitutes a dereliction of duty.

When lawmakers of the opposition Grand National Party scuffled with police while trying to enter the office of the presidential special investigation team, the police and the ruling party complained that it was a "serious infringement on government power." The ruling party called for the indictment of opposition lawmakers, and the police filed suit against them.

Let's consider the situation carefully. A ruling party executive received the escort of a police car to cross over the center divider of the highway in order to bypass a thick traffic jam. Opposition parliamentary members clash with police while demanding answers to their suspicions of irregular investigations. Which side erred more? We ask the prosecution and the police whether they exist to serve the public or those holding the reins of power.

by Kwon Il

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