Go to contents

[Opinion] The Age of “-Parazzi”

Posted December. 10, 2004 22:31,   


The age of “-parazzi” is in full swing in Korea. This is because around 50 different systems of receiving reward money for reporting illegal acts have been introduced since the appearance of “carparazzi,” people who report traffic violators, in 2001. Such groups exist for many types of violations, from “trashparazzi” (illegally throwing away trash), “bagparazzi” (giving out shopping bags for free), and “foodparazzi” (violation of the Food Sanitation Act), to “electionparazzi” (illegal election campaigns), “stockparazzi” (unfair stock transactions), and “lessonparazzi” (highly paid extracurricular lessons). Around 10 websites giving precise information on the amount of award money for each category and how to report the violations are thriving on the Internet. The quote, “Invest two hours of your weekend and be guaranteed one million won a month!” tempts the common people suffering from financial difficulties.

This time, it is “sexparazzi,” due to the introduction of a system in which award money amounting to 20 million won is given to those who report crimes such as arbitrating or forcing prostitution, or help in escaping women who have been sold into prostitution. There is no award money for reporting men who have only bought sex. However, men who became discouraged by the so-called “9/24 terror” (introduction of the Special Act on Prostitution in September 24) will feel timid so from now on because they will have to be conscious of “spying eyes” around merry-making places.

There are mixed reviews on the reward money system. Supporters say this can effectively decrease illegal activities and increase the consciousness of crime through citizens’ voluntary participation. They also point out the fact that the fields of regulation are too wide for the government to deal with each and every one of them. On the other hand, those against this system say it is wrong for the government to pass over its duties to the citizens with reward money. They also point out evils such as the growth of professional “reporters” and the possibility of violation of privacy.

Leaving aside the matter of effectiveness, it is difficult to call a society that runs several dozens of such systems a healthy society. When citizens start to count the monetary value of other citizens’ illegal acts, the trend of “everybody spying on everybody” will prevail. Indiscriminating spying fosters distrust and hostility among the members of a society. The effort to protect public values may instead harm the society. Would it not be better to find a way accentuate the citizens’ free will, although the effects are slower, instead of mutual surveillance?

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