Top cop meets sailors’ slurred clans

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Top cop meets sailors’ slurred clans

National Police Agency Commissioner-designate Cho Hyun-oh yesterday met relatives of the sailors killed in the sinking of the Cheonan to apologize for the insulting remarks about them.

President Lee Myung-bak appointed Cho, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency chief, to head of the national police agency on Aug. 9, but last week the media reported that Cho had described the Cheonan victims’ families as wailing “animals” at a police lecture in March.

“I wholeheartedly apologize for hurting the feelings of the bereaved families with my thoughtless words,” Cho said in a meeting with 14 family members at a conference room of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency. “As the parent of a son who is awaiting the military draft, I understand the deep grief of families whose sons laid down their lives for the country.”

“It is regrettable that the intention of the remark were misunderstood,” Cho said. “I will be careful with my words and behavior as a government official.”

When family members asked whether Cho was willing to visit Daejeon National Cemetery to pay tribute to the 46 Cheonan victims, Cho said he will make a visit soon after he becomes the national police agency chief.

The families initially threatened to file a defamation suit against Cho but they decided to meet him first.

“We will make a final position after discussing the meeting with other family members, as some still insist on suing him for defamation,” said Lee In-ok, representative of the Cheonan victims’ families.

In his lecture in March, Cho told policeman that, “To become citizens of an advanced nation, they [the victims’ families] need to know how to mourn in a noble way,” and that, “The media should refrain from reporting too much on the Cheonan families, who cry and act aggressively like animals.”

Cho explained last Saturday that the point of his lecture was the media’s sensational coverage of the Cheonan families was overshadowing the national mourning for the fallen navy sailors.

He stressed he had no intention of mocking the families. National Assembly’s confirmation hearing for Cho will begin on Monday.

By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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