&#91EDITORIALS&#93Crack down on violence

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&#91EDITORIALS&#93Crack down on violence

The nationally aired scene Monday in which the governor of Buan county, North Jeolla province, was repeatedly beaten by an angry mob was a shock. No legal order, democracy or human dignity was observed there. Who can talk about law after such an incident, in which the head of a local government was beaten, in the presence of police, confined for hours and seriously injured?
Buan residents who used organized violence should be held responsible for the incident. But the central government, which has not properly punished organized illegal acts so far, should be held responsible as well.
After last month’s rally in Pocheon, Gyeonggi province, by the radical student organization Hanchongryun, in which students occupied a U.S. armored vehicle there, the National Police Agency only recently issued a written warning to the head of the Gyeonggi police agency and lightly punished five police officers. Indeed, under a government that overlooks illegal acts, illegal mass rallies are growing.
The government held a cabinet meeting yesterday and decided to strictly punish those responsible for the Buan incident. It also increased the number of riot police troops in Buan. But the measures are like locking the barn door after the horse is stolen.
Buan residents opposing the decision to build a nuclear waste disposal facility in their area have occupied highways, raided government offices and kept their children from school. Currently, 18 out of 26 elementary schools in Buan are closed temporarily and others are operating at below-normal levels.
The Buan residents’ association claims that the attack resulted from the governor’s obstinacy in supporting the facility. Still, nothing can justify the residents’ violence.
Merely increasing the number of policemen will not solve the problem. The government should find out the truth of the incident and punish those responsible for security. It should also try to engage in dialogue with residents. The residents will have to stop illegal and violent rallies, and let their children return to school. Their current rallies will never attract public support for their cause.
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