Police dragged by unionPolice withdrew empty-handed after attempting to arrest Yang Kyung-soo, head of the Korean Federation of Trade Unions (KCTU), at its headquarters in downtown Seoul. Five days have passed since a court granted an arrest warrant, but the police lost its chance to detain Yang due to its passive action.
The episode raises questions if the law enforcement authority has any will to go after the leadership of the militant KCTU which has been wielding enormous power over the governing front with its claims about its contribution to President Moon Jae-in’s election victory in 2017. The fiasco underscores the imbalance in the power between law enforcement and labor union in the country.
Yang is entirely responsible for defying the quarantine rule and orchestrating a rally of 8,000 unionists in downtown Seoul on July 3 despite a plea from Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum not to hold a mass rally in downtown Seoul for fear of the spread of Covid-19. Yang also refused to comply with summons from police three times and refused to attend a court hearing to review his arrest.
The police have been dilly-dallying in acting out the arrest. It should have gone after Yang when he announced he wouldn’t appear at the court hearing for the arrest warrant. The police also did not immediately act out even when the court warranted the arrest. The police retreated when Yang’s lawyer demanded to see a separate warrant for raid and search to enter the headquarters building as the building is owned by a third party.
The police should have immediately applied for warrants to trace Yang through smartphone connection when he went into hiding. The police only feigned to arrest him when the suspect went on with a public news conference and defied law and order. A country cannot be normal if a union group acts as if it is above the law and police fails to enforce the law.
And yet the government wants to hand over the prosecution’s authority to conclude investigations to the police and also give the National Intelligence Service’s authority to probe pro-North Korean spy activities to the police in the name of reform. We are deeply concerned about the transfer of key authorities.