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[Opinion] Society Needs Female Police Officers

Posted July. 02, 2005 03:39,   


“You know what you are guilty for.” According to period movies and TV dramas, these were the words said during a crime investigation of the Joseon Dynasty. It was commonplace for a suspect to die during interrogation. However “Shimrirok,” a law report of criminal cases, or “Muwonrok,” a type of forensic literature, show that scientific investigations took place in the Joseon Dynasty as well. The fact that there was a “damo” in every “Podocheong,” an agency that took care of law and order for 400 years in the Joseon capital since King Seongjong may not be irrelevant to what we now call human rights investigations.

A “damo” often gives the impression of a female cook who prepared food for high-ranking officers at the Podocheong, but in reality they were female detectives. In a period when a male stranger was strictly banned from entering the women’s quarters of a house, damos were the ones who investigated boudoir cases by collecting information through spying and indirect inquiries. In “Yeongnyeoshilgisul,” written by the Joseon scholar Lee Geung-ik, it is reported that Kim Ja-jeom’s treason plot case was also disclosed by information given by a damo.

Yesterday was the 59th anniversary of the establishment of the female police force, and a “Damo Award” (taken from the damo of the Joseon Dynasty) ceremony took place. The recipient of the award was Sergeant Hwang Hyun-ju, who arrested 545 suspects during the past year. This day, however, was a depressing one as well for policewomen. Lieutenant Kang Soon-deok, who attracted attention as a “policewoman who caught generals,” had recently been arrested for forging driver licenses to a wanted criminal, and local Superintendent General Kim In-ok is allegedly involved in this case as well.

Policewomen have established a clean image so far. This is why the downfall of the “two star cops” is all the more shocking. The honor of 3,970 policewomen, or 4.3 percent of the total police force, has collapsed in an instant. Policewomen should take this incident as a moral for self-maintenance. This is the only way to recover their pride and honor. Our society is still in need of the sensitive touch of policewomen. We look forward to the birth of a true “star policewoman.”

Song Dae-keun, Editorial Writer, dksong@donga.com