Koreans assaulted in China receive little help

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Koreans assaulted in China receive little help

Three Koreans were brutally assaulted during a business trip to China, but neither the local authorities nor the Korean police looked into it, merely shifting responsibility from one side to the other.

On Dec. 9, a 36-year-old Korean surnamed Jeong and other two men visited Kim, a Korean-Chinese living in Yunnan Province, southwestern China. Kim was their business partner, running a clothing trade for several years.

The three men wanted to ask Kim why their business was sluggish recently. They met with Kim at a local pub on the outskirts of Kunming, the capital of the province.

However, in less than a half an hour after they met, a group of Kim’s subordinates raided the meeting room, wielding glass bottles against the men.

One of the three men was knocked out and bleeding from the head. The other had a broken nose. The relentless violence lasted for about 30 minutes, Jeong told police.

Immediately after the assault, the three men visited the Korean Consulate in Shenyang, northeastern China, and registered the case with local Chinese police.

At the time, they said the Korean Consulate advised them to “register the case once again to Korean police” after they came back to the country. However, the consulate’s official also added “but it won’t work.”

As soon as they arrived in the Incheon International Airport on Dec. 12, they visited the National Police Agency’s Foreign Affairs Bureau to report the case.

However, an official at the bureau told them “go to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s Foreign Affairs Division because the offenders are foreigners.”

So this time, Jeong visited the division alone, on behalf of the two other guys. However, the division’s officials also said “go to the Nowon Police Station in the district [of northeastern Seoul] where you live.”

Again, Jeong headed to the Nowon Police Station. But the police officers at the station told him go back to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, because “the incident happened abroad.”

“They almost killed me right then, but the police didn’t have any manual to protect people, only because the offenders are foreigners,” Jeong said at the station.

“In a case where an offender is a foreigner, there’s nothing that a local police station can do,” an official at the Nowon Police Station told the JoongAng Ilbo.

The official said it’s not true that they refused to investigate, but they just advised him where to go.

According to statistics by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the number of cases in which Koreans were victimized was 3,490 in 2008, but it surged to 4,458 in 2011. Most of the cases remain unresolved.

In October 2012, other two Korean businessmen staying in Cebu, the Philippines, were shot and wounded by local residents. But local police couldn’t find the offenders during their two-month probe.

Many of the suspects who assaulted Korean students in Australia last year have yet to be arrested, except those who were caught on the spot.

Until now, Korean police have maintained that a crime in a foreign country should be dealt with by local authorities, if the offenders are local.

However, Jeon Dae-yang, a police administration professor at Kwandong University, said, “Korean consulates and Korean police can request to cooperate with the local police in a foreign country through Interpol.”

By Yoon Ho-jin [heejin@jooongang.co.kr ]

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