Seoul police looking into accidental gunfire

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Seoul police looking into accidental gunfire

A conscripted policeman accidently discharged a rifle in March while guarding the Seoul government complex then tried to cover up the incident, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency (SMPA) revealed yesterday.

On March 6 at around 9 p.m., a first class private constable surnamed Kim, of the SMPA combat police’s 718th company, set off a K-2 rifle while patrolling the government complex annex building in Gwanghwamun, Jongno District, central Seoul.

The accident took place near the west gate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, located just 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Blue House and across the street from major foreign embassies. The area is also the heart of tourism, culture and business in Seoul.

According to the police agency, the rifle had been straddled on Kim’s shoulder, with the barrel facing upward toward the sky. There were no casualties. Normally, conscripted policemen do not carry loaded rifles but Kim had been provided the guns during annual joint military drills between Korea and the United States. They were not provided with live ammunition.

To cover up the accident, the commanding official of Kim’s unit apparently did not report the accident to his superiors. Only about 10 days later, after internal rumors and accusations started to fly, did the accident come to light. The SMPA is investigating the details of the case, including what caused the firearm to accidentally discharge, where the live ammunition came from and why Kim’s gun had been loaded in the first place.

A disciplinary committee reprimanded the commanding official and issued warnings to Kim and three other police officials. The shooting accident precedes a string of other misdemeanors by members of the police.

Last Saturday, 37-year-old Sergeant Choi, of the Hyehwa Police Station, was indicted after hitting a pedestrian in front of a convenience store in Nowon Culture Street in northeast Seoul. Choi had been inebriated when he attacked the passerby.

On June 27, another inebriated sergeant, surnamed Choi, of the Dongjak District Police, was caught driving under the influence after he rear-ended a car.

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]




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