Yongsan police chief demoted for rough ways

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Yongsan police chief demoted for rough ways

A senior superintendent was demoted one grade for hurling expletives at a sergeant and degrading a lieutenant over a disagreement, marking the second time this year that a senior superintendent has been degraded for abuse of power.

The National Police Agency announced on Thursday that Kim Gyeong-won, former chief of the Yongsan Police Precinct in central Seoul, who had completed his tenure and was waiting to be assigned to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency as a senior superintendent, was demoted a grade from his position to superintendent.

In April, when Kim was the chief of the Yongsan Police Precinct, a team investigated a case concerning a real estate redevelopment project in Yongsan District. A labor union had sued the developer’s subcontractor for fraud.

A sergeant on the team decided to hand the case over to prosecution without a request to indict the subcontractor, concluding, “There is no evidence that the subcontractor committed fraud.”

Kim then ordered the sergeant to “hand over the case to the prosecution with a request to indict the subcontractor,” but the sergeant did not follow this order, police said. Kim then swore at the sergeant and transferred him to a subsidiary precinct station in May. Kim also downgraded the sergeant’s supervising officer, a lieutenant.

The sudden demotions drew the attention of the national police’s internal inspection bureau, which concluded that Kim had abused his power and that the sergeant’s decision to hand the case over to the prosecution without a request for indictment was a fair decision. The team could not confirm whether Kim received bribes from the labor union.

“I have not received anything from anyone over the case,” Kim told the JoongAng Ilbo, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily. “There were a few observations that the sergeant’s investigation was lacking, so I ordered him to ‘investigate thoroughly.’”

He added, “I never ordered him to request the prosecution for indictment. I admit I didn’t communicate with my subordinates well, but I think more things need to be explained in the case. I am thinking of filing for an appeal.”

Kim will be on standby for three months before being appointed to his new assignment, police said.

“Kim’s demotion is an example of how serious police are about the new anticorruption movement, pushed forward by Lee Chul-sung, commissioner general for the National Police Agency, since he took office in August this year,” said one police officer.

The former chief of Bangbae Police Precinct in Seocho District, southern Seoul, was also degraded to superintendent last month when an internal investigation confirmed that he would often verbally abuse his subordinates and make them run his personal errands, like fixing his wife’s car.

BY ESTHER CHUNG, HONG SANG-JI [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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