Calling all cars . . . and cop lovers

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Calling all cars . . . and cop lovers

So you've watched "Cops," that real-life television show from America. And you've seen the local movie "Two Cops," and its sequels. Isn't it time you visited a cops museum?

Now there's a way to get a look at the history of police work in Korea, at a museum that presents artifacts related to police work that date as far back as the 15th century.

Sitting in downtown Seoul, on the basement floor of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in Jongno, the museum is divided into sections according to time periods. Each of those display an interesting range of preserved documents and equipment. Some of the exhibited items include relics from the 15th-century Joseon Dynasty such as a mapae, a medal that undercover investigators of the royal court used to carry.

Many items used by Japanese police during the colonial period are also shown, such as the very first telephone used on the peninsula.

Other highlights at the museum include a police motorcyle with sidecar from the late 1940s, copies of police officers' paychecks dating back as far as 1963 and bulletproof vests that were actually used, with bullets still embedded in them.

People interested in the Cold War will be fascinated by preserved pieces of correspondence between North Korean spies and by communist sympathizers in the South, called palchisan.

While the administrators have more than 5,000 items in the museum and its storerooms, approximately 1,700 items are on display, so you can spend many an hour here. Also, you can watch a video titled "A Half Century of Korean Police" in the entrance hall.

The museum opened seven years ago to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the National Police Agency. So far, it has had more than 500,000 visitors.

"Most of our visitors are school children who come for educational purposes," says Kim Hyun-woo of the Seoul Metropolitan Police.

The museum is a stop on the Seoul City Tour bus. It is open year round from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is closed on both New Year's (lunar and new) holidays. During winter months (November to February), the museum closes one hour early. Entrance is free.

Those who wish for English service can request a bilingual guide before visiting.

For more information, call (02) 733-9779.

by Choi Jie-ho

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