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Disgraced ex-president's accomplice codes

Posted May. 25, 2017 07:18,   

Updated May. 25, 2017 07:33


Inmates are called by prisoner numbers in lieu of their names on present days just as in the past. They seem as if they are treated as invisible people, but the measure is used to rather give consideration to those inmates who don’t want to reveal their identities. Due to the Constitutional Court’s ruling in May 1999, prisoners on trial can wear plain clothes instead of prison uniforms when attending court hearings. Those prisoners on trial started wearing acrylic identification tags on their chest since that time. Elderly inmates and female prisoners on trial are not bound with rope. For this reason, former President Park, and Kim Ki-choon, former presidential chief of staff for Park, were not seen bound with rope during their court hearings, unlike Samsung Group Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong.

A round identification tag was seen placed on ex-President Park’s left chest when she attended court hearing for the charge of alleged manipulation of state affairs, which took place at the Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday. The nametag read "Na Dae Bleu Cheu Seoul (gu) 503." These abbreviations, which sound like secret codes, contain core information on the inmate concerned, and only prison guards can figure them out. The accomplice codes namely Na (manipulation of state affairs), Dae (conglomerate), Bleu (blacklist), and Cheu (sports) suggest key charges the disgraced president is facing. The words are written in black for men and in red for women. Seoul (gu) and 503 refer to the name of the prison and her inmate number, respectively.

The measure that requires an inmate to wear an identification tag is designed to efficiently identify and separate inmates in order to prevent them from colluding by taking advantage of the time when they exercise together or have meetings with visitors within the prison or when going to court for trials. Former lawmaker Lee Sang-deuk, who was imprisoned for taking illegal political fund in July 2012, was reportedly amazed to see that the prison with over 3,000 inmates ensure accomplices never encounter with each other during exercise or meeting with visitors. Accomplice codes should be kept secret not only from outsiders but also among the inmates. The Seoul Detention House where Park is under detention is proactively considering changing accomplice codes of the inmates who are charged with manipulation of state affairs.

The president was ousted and put behind bars due to alleged manipulation of state affairs, which is unprecedented in the nation’s history, but the public don’t feel comfortable watching the ex-president appear at court wearing an inmate’s identification tag just like ordinary criminals. The Seoul Detention House reportedly agonized deeply over the measure, but it was concerned more about accusation of special favor given to her if she attends court hearing without the tag. If that is the case, we wonder how it would look if the authority let ex-President Park take off the identification tag when getting out of the prison van or when she is exposed to the public through the media during court hearings.