[FOUNTAIN]The search for security

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[FOUNTAIN]The search for security

It was in April 1961 when divisions specializing in public security offences were created within the prosecutors office. Under the Central Investigation Department of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, the divisions of inspection and special affairs were launched right before the May 16 military coup. The investigations were mainly into pro-North Korean activists and were justified on the grounds of relieving people’s anxiety over unrest. The divisions were elevated to the Public Security Department in 1973, and the prosecutors’ investigation into cases of public security offenses went into full swing. In the 1980s, the department was expanded. In 1981, the Public Security Archive was established, and Divisions 3 and 4 and the Office of Public Security Planning were added in 1986. It was around this time that the term “public security prosecutor” came to be used. They handled anti-communism investigations and public security violation cases involving labor movement, election campaigns, student movement and collective civil petitions.
However, “public security case” is not a legal term, but a concept adopted for use in paperwork. The scope of a public security case is defined in the prosecution’s regulations on investigation reports (Ministry of Justice ordinance No. 474) and the regulations on the management of data on public security violators. According to regulations on investigation reports, any offense against the safety of the state, both internal and external, under criminal law and violations of the National Security Law is to be investigated as a public security case. Election law violators, labor-related law violators and mob violence cases are categorized as public security offenses, according to the regulation on the management of data on public security violators. That is why some argue that the investigations into public security cases were exploited to support a certain regime. They say the object and scope of investigation is too broad. The justice minister pledged to reduce the scope of public security investigations.
The mood of reconciliation created after the inter-Korean summit in 2000 demands a new paradigm for national security. Since we have concentrated on military security between the two Koreas, we definitely need one. Professor Robert Mandel said national security is a pursuit of not just physical, but also psychological safety. Just as men created religions in order to overcome the fear of death, citizens want national security for their individual safety. The citizens have complicated feelings as they witness recent appointments and promotions of public prosecutors. Where can we find psychological security?


by Park Jai-hyun

The writer is a deputy city news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.
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