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[Opinion] Crime Clock

Posted September. 30, 2002 22:59,   


The Old Testament tells a story of Abel who killed his own brother. It was the first murder case recorded in the Bible. Since Abel, the humankind has been so closely accompanied by crimes that its history is even called that of crimes. And crimes are, of course, subject to punishments. The law was required in the first place to punish those who committed crimes and maintain social stability. The oldest written law in history is Sumer Code from some 4000 years ago, which sets rules to punish certain kinds of crimes. Chinese Book of Han wrote about three of the eight prohibits which were effective in Old Chosun- murders, violence and thefts.

▷The Police Agency recently unveiled a “crime watch” that informs of intervals between one crime and another. According to the watch, a murder takes place every nine and a half hours, while a robbery takes place every one and a half hours. The time interval between rape incidents is one and a half hours, which has been slowed from last year’s one hour and 18 minutes. A fire, however, breaks out every 6 hours and 12 minutes, which is worse than 8 hours recorded in 1999. The crime watch was modeled after an annual crime report released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the U.S. Judging from the incidence rate per 100,000 population, experts point out, this country is a much safer place to live compared to industrialized western countries.

▷There are certain crimes that take place more frequently in certain countries. For instance, of the 7 most frequently committed crimes defined by the FBI – murders, robberies, rapes, car thefts, use of excessive force, breaks-in and thefts, we are not seriously worried about car thefts and breaks-in. What is disturbing is that use of force, infliction of injury, robberies and sex crimes are on the sharp rise these days. “While the incidence of business-related crimes, which soared during the IMF crisis period, went down to the before-crisis level, violence-involving crimes have been rising steadfastly, a sign that the society is decaying deep down to the inside,” said Dr. Choi In-sup at the Korea Institute of Criminology. Does the saying “It’s much easier to resort to fists than to the law” hold true in our society?

▷The concern is that the authorities have yet to effectively respond to the surge of violent crimes. The sharp increase may have something to do with violence on TV and Koreans’ propensity to emphasize speedy actions. The foremost responsibility, however, lies on the authorities. What people expect least from their government that collects not a small amount of tax money is a safe society to live in. And now we hope that the next government will exert its earnest effort to set the clock slow.

Song Moon-hong, Editorial Writer songmh@donga.com