Police chief’s suspicious announcement to resign

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Police chief’s suspicious announcement to resign

Kim Chang-yong, the commissioner general of the National Police Agency, has suddenly announced an intention to resign with about a month left before his term ends. During a press conference on Monday, Kim emphasized that recommendations from an advisory committee on democratic ways to control the law enforcement agency will entirely change the current police system.

His statement translates into an unequivocal opposition to the Yoon Suk-yeol administration’s attempt to reign in the police, which will become more powerful when they take away all investigative powers from the prosecution in September.

The police chief made the announcement about one hour after Minister of the Interior and Safety Lee Sang-min, who commands the police, presented a plan to create a bureau inside the ministry to efficiently control the police.

But Kim’s argument is not convincing. After the passage in April of the revisions of the laws by the Democratic Party (DP), the police can wield enormous power extending to investigations on communist activities and crimes of soldiers before enlistment. About the recommendations by the advisory board, Interior Minister Lee said they are just a part of an effort to “normalize the aberrant ways of the Blue House directly commanding the police by bypassing the ministry” in the past.

First of all, it is not a responsible attitude for a police chief to announce resignation while the government is looking into the lead-up to his abrupt decision to transfer 28 senior police officers to other posts without even getting approval from the president. Such extraordinary transfers were unprecedented. Worse, both the ministry and the police are attacking one another for sending a not-finalized version of the reshuffle plan to the presidential office.

Kim tendered his resignation on the day when President Yoon embarked on his first overseas trip as head of state to attend the NATO Summit in Madrid. The biggest problem is the police chief’s sincerity. He took a vacation without even submitting his resignation to the presidential office. If Kim really made a decision to resign to avoid responsibility, that’s a more serious problem.

Over the past two years, the police head has engaged in a lot of suspicious behavior. At the peak of the tense Korea-Japan relations in November 2021, he visited Dokdo Islets. During the pandemic, he was criticized for his biased treatment of conservative and liberal protesters. Democratic control of the police is absolutely needed. But we hope the government finds feasible ways to protect the neutrality of police investigations at the same time.
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