[EDITORIALS]The Gangsters Among Us

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[EDITORIALS]The Gangsters Among Us

The National Assembly has begun discussing the problems associated with gangsters. After Lee Yong-ho gate, suspicions over collusion between gangster rings and the prosecutors loomed. And scenes of gangsters hanging around politicians calling each other "brother" have become an issue to be answered by the government at the National Assembly. As a lawmaker for the opposition Grand National Party criticized, "Gangster groups have nothing to fear in this administration, and they earn enormous amounts of money." Such remarks spread rampantly in our society.

At a meeting of the supreme council of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, members talked about "unpleasant experiences and uneasy feelings caused by the gangsters at golf clubs and hotels." Such feelings are common among the public. Terms such as "gangsters' golden era," "gangster syndrome" and "gangster politics" have become familiar to us.

According to police, there are 199 criminal rings, with perhaps 4,100 gangsters nationwide. The gangster groups are totally different from what they used to be. Today, they run construction companies and meddle in any business that is linked to power and money, such as stocks, venture start-ups and private moneylending.

Yeo Un-hwan, who reportedly led a criminal ring called Gukje PJ based in Kwangju, is linked to the Lee Yong-ho gate. Oh Ki-jun, leader of the Shinyang OB criminal ring, is suspected to have connections to last year's Chung Hyun-joon gate.

Gangsters are now a part of faction-ridden political culture. They are gaining power in our economy by disguising their businesses as being legal. Some say that next year's local and presidential elections will make them grow bigger.

The current administration, which promotes human rights and democracy, could feel unpleasant for being responsible for the golden era of gangsters. Still, the government should mull over the reason why gangster groups rapidly increased after this administration began. The government's failure to crack down on gangsters is one of the reasons for people's alienation from the government. Although the prosecution and the police declared war against organized crime, people are not convinced due to their connection with the Lee Yong-ho gate. That is why the government has to show its will in this war against crime.
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