The zeitgeist: Rooting out social vices

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The zeitgeist: Rooting out social vices

Since the Korean War (1950-53), the focus of Koreans had been national rehabilitation in the 1950s, economic development in the 1960s and democratization since the late ’80s. By concentrating the energy on the key issue of each period, Korean people are praised for accomplishing both economic development and democratization only in a half-century.

However, the economic polarization and social uncertainty created in the process were the shadows of development in ambush. As the anxiety and concerns are growing, the new Park Geun-hye administration has proposed as one of the national agenda the eradication of the so-called safety-related “Four Major Social Evils” - sexual violence, domestic violence, school violence and unsafe food.

Statistics show that sexual violence cases are growing in number nationwide, from 18,499 cases in 2011 to 19,386 cases last year. Domestic violence is also increasing from 6,848 cases in 2011 to 8,762 cases last year. In fact, we don’t have to refer to statistical data to feel the growing anxiety over aggravating school violence or food safety.

So in today’s Korean society, the spirit of the time and the main focus of attention is how we should weed out these four social evils. Currently, the country’s police is using all its capacity to resolve the urgent issues.

However, as the police implements policies and measures, the approach should not be unilateral or be limited to crackdowns. Just like all other social issues, when you tackle these four vices with control and punishment only, more important values may be undermined.

In sexual violence cases, we need to make sure the victims do not suffer additional damage in the course of investigation and provide considerate care, support and recovery. On school violence cases, it is desirable to offer educational guidance and consider the future of the students instead of applying just criminal punishment.

Also, for domestic violence cases, proportionate punishment should be applied considering the need and limitation of intervention of public authority.

For food safety-related cases, we need to make sure that none of the values of health and safety of citizens and the protection of ordinary people’s economic activity are overlooked.

*The author is commissioner of the Chungnam Provincial Police Agency.

by Baik Seung-yup

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