Posted May. 23, 2005 03:40,
When Dr. Hwang Woo-suk arrived at Incheon International Airport in the afternoon of May 20, tension mounted around Dr. Hwang`s residence, an apartment in Gangnam-gu, Seoul. The officers who had patrolled the residence once every two hours patrolled every hour. Undercover police officers were also on the job.
One of the officers said bluntly, "This security work is being undertaken without other residents` notice. I don`t have anything to say about the details."
As Dr. Hwang solidified himself as a leading scientist in the world, it seems increasingly clear that meeting with him is becoming extremely difficult.
Dr. Hwang joined the VIP list of Ministers and leading politicians last September who receive top-level security from the government. The doctor`s recent breakthrough in his work will no doubt add to the security efforts that have intensified since last year.
A Security Office Next Door-
The police offered security for Dr. Hwang upon the request of the Ministry of Science and Technology and under VIP security deliberation committee regulations which qualify "scientists related to national security and defense" for VIP protection. It is very unusual for a scientist to receive the same amount of protection offered to key politicians or special figures like Hwang Jang-yop.
Moreover, last year, Cheong Wa Dae ordered authorities to intensify the security around Dr. Hwang`s residence.
In response, the police established a three-pyeong size security post within the apartment complex Dr. Hwang resides in. Undercover officers live in the office and keep a vigil around the clock in three shifts, watching the apartment entrances and surrounding areas very closely. The officers learn the residents` faces and run security checks on strangers and visitors who enter the apartment building.
The police also established a security office about 10 pyeong in size in an apartment building near Dr. Hwang`s place. An apartment worker said, "The officers do not work there 24 hours a day seven days a week, but often come for duty." Sometimes officers escort Dr. Hwang on his way home just in case.
Neighbors Welcome the Officers-
The residents are not complaining about the officers, they are welcoming them because their presence provides security for the entire neighborhood. Residents say security has gotten better since the officers came. Not a single robbery has taken place since the security post was established last year.
Although the police and authorities did not make public that they are offering security for Dr. Hwang, residents are well aware of it. Mr. Kim, a neighbor, says, "I might feel uneasy about a security post to look out for burglars, but I`m happy that it`s for our scientist Dr. Hwang. The residents all welcome the police because no one is worried about robberies anymore."