Hero policeman’s story not a hoax, police say

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Hero policeman’s story not a hoax, police say

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10일 경기도 동두천시 미2사단 캠프 모빌 외곽에서 경기지방경찰청 수사진이 조민수 수경의 당시 근무 상황을 재조사하고 있다. [연합뉴스]

The inspirational story of a young policeman who lost his life trying to save a man clinging to a fence during a torrential downpour last July in Dongducheon, Gyeonggi, was recently called into question, resulting in a frantic police investigation of the event.

Gyeonggi Police reiterated yesterday that Cho Min-soo, a 21-year-old conscripted policeman in the last month of his military service, indeed died on July 27 while trying to save a 58-year-old citizen surnamed Kang from being engulfed by rapids last summer, one of the wettest seasons in a century.

The police were forced to reinvestigate the situation on Monday after one of Cho’s fellow policeman claimed “Cho was found dead while escaping from his flooded dormitory.” According to the policeman it was because their superiors ordered the evacuation of the dormitories too late. “They fabricated the story to cover up their misjudgment,” he said.

Furthermore, the policeman said that another officer communicated via walkie-talkie to their commander that the dormitory was flooded, but was told to wait. When the water rose to their waist, their commander told them to “wait until the water reaches their neck.” Finally, as described by the policeman, the group tried to escape but Cho was swept away by the water and disappeared.

Another one of Cho’s comrades stated that their commanders allegedly told them “let’s say that Min-soo passed away saving a person,” since they had already lost him.

Then they reported to their superiors that Cho passed away saving a person who was holding on to a wire fence.

The Gyeonggi Police stated at the press conference held yesterday that Kang had been clutching to a wire fence to keep from being swept away and Cho jumped into the water to save him but was swept away by the water before he could reach him.

Park Sang-yung, who was chief of Dongducheon police at the time of Cho’s death said at the press conference that Cho, according to witnesses, was heading toward a bus station 100 meters away from the dormitory to avoid the strong water when he spotted Kang holding onto a wire fence.

Kang said to the police initially that Cho called out “someone is coming,” meaning “I am coming to save you” but was swept away five meters away from reaching him.

Park stated, “Even besides Kang, there were other conscripted police and other witnesses.”

Yesterday, Hyeon Min-seok, a conscripted policeman, posted a comment on an article about Cho, “I was at that time forced to see Cho’s death across from him,” he wrote. “Cho definitely headed toward Kang, who was alone.”


By Chung Young-jin [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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