Drag racing in Seoul popular, attracts all types

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Drag racing in Seoul popular, attracts all types

For cheap, risky thrills, nothing beats a drag race.

Find a deserted stretch of road at least 400 meters (0.25 miles) long, like the highway to Incheon International Airport, round up a competitor, and drive at speeds of up to 200 kilometers an hour (124 miles an hour) to see who can get to the finish line first.

It turns out drag racing is incredibly popular in Korea, and not just for juvenile delinquents, as police found when they started a crackdown on the dangerous sport.

According to the Traffic Safety Department of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency yesterday, 146 illegal speed racers were caught for engaging in dangerous driving, which is prohibited by the Road Traffic Act, which was amended in 2009. The police issued arrest warrants to two racers and are investigating the rest.

“In the past, police officials could only issue speeding tickets to the drivers, but this time we were able to investigate them for the first time [under the new Road Traffic Act] for disturbing other traffic,” said a police spokesman.

The 146 drivers included such high-income professionals as a baseball player, a pro golfer and baseball player, a plastic surgeon and a lecturer at a national university. Also nabbed was a Marine, a civil servant, a housewife and a high school student. The cars they raced included a Hyundai Tuscani and Genesis, along with expensive foreign cars such as a Porsche Carrera S, a Ferrari 360, a BMW 335i, a Mazda RX7 and a Nissan GT-R.

The 146 racers have participated in 710 drag races from 2008 to December last year, police said, on Seoul’s Bukak Skyway; Namsan Sowongil; Incheon’s North Port; Oi Island in Siheung, Gyeonggi; and Galma Mountain in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, said the police.

The drivers also engaged in so-called drift races, which are done on steeply curved roads, such as on mountains.

The police said one of the drivers surnamed Bang, 28, runs a motorsports company and has been running an unregistered school that teaches drifting techniques to amateurs and holds competitions.

The two drivers were charged with “obstruction of traffic,” a felony that carries a penalty of revocation of driving licenses for two years.

By Yim Seung-hye [enational@joongang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article [중앙일보]

야구선수·골퍼·의사 … 광란의 200km 질주 경찰, 폭주족 146명
경찰, 폭주족 146명 무더기 적발 … 3년간 폭주법 가르친 학원도

심야 시간대에 한적한 도로에서 최고 200㎞가 넘는 속도로 위험한 자동차 경주를 벌인 폭주족들이 경찰에 무더기로 적발됐다. 이들 중에는 프로야구 선수와 프로골퍼, 성형외과 의사 등 고소득 전문직 종사자를 비롯해 현역 장교, 가정주부와 고등학생에 이르기까지 다양한 직종의 사람들이 포함돼 있었다.

서울경찰청은 24일 폭주족 146명을 적발해 이 가운데 이모(28·기타리스트)씨 등 2명에 대해 구속영장을 신청하고 나머지는 불구속 입건했다고 밝혔다. 불구속 입건자 중에는 현역 프로야구 선수 고모씨도 있었다. 경찰에 따르면 이들은 2008년부터 지난해 12월까지 서울 북악 스카이웨이 등 경찰의 단속을 쉽게 피할 수 있는 도로에서 710차례에 걸쳐 고속질주로 레이스를 벌이며 시민들의 안전을 위협하고, 교통을 방해한 혐의(도로교통법상 공동위험행위 등)다.

이들은 낮에는 일반인과 다를 바 없는 생활을 했지만 밤이 되면 죽음의 레이스를 벌였다. 이들의 경주에는 투스카니와 제네시스쿠페 등 국내 스포츠카와 포르셰 카레라S, 마쓰다RX-8 등 고급 외제 승용차가 사용됐다. 일부는 속도를 더 내기 위해 차량 부품을 손봐 성능을 높이는 불법개조(튜닝)를 하기도 했다. …

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