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Six Decades of Female Korean Police

Posted June. 26, 2006 07:49,   


The police administration department posted a job advertisement seeking female police officer candidates for the first time on May 15, 1946 under the U.S. military administration after the liberation from Japanese colonial rule.

No record of the number of applicants at that time has been identified. However, a total of 80 policewomen, including 16 lieutenant-level officers and 64 patrolwomen, were stationed to the Female Police Office (FPO) that was established on July 1 of the same year.

Goh Bong-kyung, a female educator missing after being kidnapped to North Korea, was the first head of the FPO. The uniform of policewomen back then was a dark purple skirt 20 centimeters long below the knees and a jacket-style blouse.

It is reported that when policewomen toured a law court for study of trials, citizens who had never seen a female police officer before crowded around to look them as the traffic police were sent out. Policewomen cracked down mainly on juvenile delinquents and female offenders.

It was in 1972 that the public invitation of applications for policewomen was first introduced. The first female police administration officer Kim In-ok (54), deputy manager of the Ulsan Police Agency, and Hong Tae-ok (53, a senior superintendent), manager of the female and juvenile delinquents division of the National Police Agency, joined in the same year as the first successful applicants for policewomen.

Since 1989, 10 percent of Police University student slots have been assigned exclusively to females, producing about 12 female executive police officers every year.

In September 1991, in the eight regional police agencies nationwide, female police task-force squads were introduced. Kim Kang-ja (61) was promoted to the first senior superintendent as a policewoman in 1998, proceeding to the head of Seoul Jongam Police Office.

The number of policewomen amounts to a total of 4,572, including one police administration officer and three senior superintendents, which amounts to 4.8 percent of the whole police force. Beside Hong, the senior superintendents are Lee Geum-hyung (48), head of the Seoul Mapo Police Office, and Seol Yong-sook (48), head of North Gyeongsang Seongju Police Office.

Policewomen have expanded 57 times in number over the past 60 years. In addition, they keep active in all police roles, including 782 policewomen placed in the criminal investigation field.

The National Police Agency is planning to promote the ratio of policewomen up to 10 percent of the whole police force by 2014 by allotting 20 to 30 percent of new police recruiting slots to females.

Jae-Myoung Lee egija@donga.com