Seoul chief tapped to head National Police Agency

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Seoul chief tapped to head National Police Agency


Kang Sin-myeong

The government yesterday tapped Kang Sin-myeong, the commissioner for the Seoul Metropolitan Police, as the nation’s top police chief to replace Lee Sung-han, who stepped down Tuesday amid public criticism over the botched manhunt for Yoo Byung-eun, the de facto owner of the doomed Sewol ferry.

The Ministry of Security and Public Administration yesterday announced its approval of the nomination of Kang, 50, who currently heads the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, to commissioner general of the National Police Agency.

In following with internal procedures, his nomination was first handpicked and proposed by a special nomination committee under the Security Ministry. Kang will still need to pass a confirmation hearing by lawmakers at the National Assembly, scheduled for next week. President Park Geun-hye will give the final confirmation.

If Kang’s nomination is approved, he will become the first police chief in the country to graduate from Korea National Police University since the school opened its first campus 33 years ago.

Born in Hapcheon County, South Gyeongsang, Kang graduated from Cheonggu High School in Daegu, President Park’s hometown.

Kang served in various inner-circle posts within the police. He was the former chief of the National Police Agency’s bureaus on criminal investigation and intelligence, as well as the former head of the Songpa Police Precinct.

He previously served as the Blue House secretary for public security affairs in the Park Geun-hye administration.

According to the Security Ministry, Kang told members of the special nomination committee during a questioning that, “I will become a police [chief] for the people, [one] who does his best and takes responsibility for public security and order.”

“The police now face a crisis in that they have lost public trust,” he was quoted by the ministry as saying. “I will restore lost public trust as soon as possible through an organizational reshuffle.”

If Kang, a Gyeongsang native, is finally appointed as the national police chief, three out of Korea’s four most powerful directors will be from North or South Gyeongsang.

Prosecutor General Kim Jin-tae came from Sacheon, South Gyeongsang; the nominee for National Tax Service commissioner, Lim Hwan-soo, is also from Uiseong, North Gyeongsang.

Lee Byung-kee, the director of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), is the only non-Gyeongsang native; he was born in Seoul.

The appointment of Kang came a day after outgoing National Police Agency Chief Lee Sung-han tendered his resignation to the Security Ministry, expressing his desire to take responsibility for the botched attempt to find and arrest Yoo, the de facto owner of the Chonghaejin Marine Company, which operated the Sewol ferry.

In his resignation speech, Lee said he would “embrace all responsibility that the police should take for the various problems,” including the belated discovery of Yoo’s body.

His exit also came just hours after President Park criticized the police and prosecution over their failed efforts to find and arrest the 73-year-old businessman.

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, President Park acknowledged that the police and prosecution “wasted a huge amount of the state budget” and “lost the public’s trust.”

“Someone needs to take responsibility for [this case],” she demanded, without pinpointing Lee.

About 1.3 million police officers were mobilized at various times in the manhunt and an unprecedented 500 million won ($486,500) reward was offered for information about him.

Yoo’s body was found on June 12, heavily decomposed and rotting in a plum orchard in Suncheon, South Jeolla. However, authorities only discovered 40 days later that the corpse did, in fact, belong to the fugitive billionaire.


Correction and rebuttal statement by the Evangelical Baptist Church

The Korea JoongAng Daily, regarding the reports since April 16, 2014, about the Evangelical Baptist Church (EBC) and Yoo Byung-eun, is publishing the following corrections and an excerpt from the rebuttal statement by the EBC.


Through three past investigations by the prosecution, it has been revealed that Yoo and the EBC, also known as the “Salvation Group” and Guwonpa in Korean, are not related to the Odaeyang mass suicide incident. That was also confirmed by the prosecution in its official statement on May 21. The prosecution’s investigation also found that Yoo had not made an attempt to smuggle himself out of the country or seek political asylum in France. We, therefore, correct the concerned reports.

Yoo retired from his executive management position in 1997. He did not own any shares in the noted companies, nor had he managed operations or used the operating funds for personal reasons. There are no grounds to call him the actual owner and chairman of the company. As such, he did not provide any directives in regards to the overloading of the Sewol ferry or its renovation.

It was verified that the captain and crew members who abandoned ship at the time of the Sewol ferry accident are not members of the EBC. It has also been verified that the EBC does not own any shares of Chonghaejin Marine Company and did not engage in its management.

Rebuttal statement

The EBC’s position is that the museums in the United States and Europe can never authorize an exhibition unless the artistic value of an artist’s works is recognized by the screening committee, irrespective of the amount of money an artist donates. The EBC’s position is that the exhibitions were not a result of Mr. Yoo’s patronage or donation, and Yoo also has not coerced Chonghaejin and its affiliates to purchase his photos.

The EBC states that Yoo did not participate in the foundation of the EBC in 1981, and the church does not offer him the title “pastor.” It also says a significant part of the 240 billion won ($206 million) worth of assets suspected of belonging to the Yoo family are real estate properties owned by the farming associations, which had been established by church members.

The EBC states that there are certain churches in Korea that call the EBC a cult, solely based on differences between their’s and the EBC’s doctrines.

But the EBC does not worship a particular individual as a religious sect leader or preach any doctrine that contradicts the Bible.

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