“Sorry Your Honor, I Have to Take This”- cell phone horror storiesOn June 1, Taegu district court was standing room only with people waiting to hear the results of the first recount called for the past elections. The electoral seat in question saw the winner win by a marginal 19 votes.
If the court over-turned the election results, this could see the Millennium Democratic Party, or the MDP’s candidate, Kim Jung-kwon winning the highly contested seat.
Besides the MDP and the Grand National Party, whose candidate had won the seat, both the press and members of congress were filling a majority of seats in Taegu court. Also, the session was to be overseen by four supreme court judges, very unusual in district court, makring the seriousness of the occasion.
But, not long after court convened, the sound of a mobile phone ringing could be heard. Although staff had asked those present to turn off their phones not to mention signs on the entrance door requesting people to turn pagers and mobile phones off, it was all of no avail. And for the next few hours, cell phones were constantly ringing from the visitors gallery until the end.
Staff had asked again and again for people to turn off their phones. Yet, what most people did was simply change their phones from sound mode to vibration, and continued to answer their phones and disturb the proceedings.
Government officials and members of congress were no different with some taking calls and talking without leaving court. One congressman was upbraided by court support staff- the person was sitting in the front row when he answered his mobile phone.
Staff had to resort to final warnings, saying that if phones rang again, the perpetrator would be thrown out of court.
With cell phones a fact of modern life, judges are finding this lack of tact or common etiquette being ditressingly uncommon. One judge commented that he once had to order a person to be “physically removed” from court because of his mobile phone consistently going off.
Last year, one person was slapped with a stiff penalty for not turning off his cell phone.
What this whole episode in Taegu district court shows is the gross lack of common courtesy present in those using cel phones, not only in Taegu but in the nation on whole.
by Ahn Jang-won