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[Editorial] Maintaining Public Security

Posted March. 21, 2008 03:00,   


The Gunpo Police Station, investigating a serial murder case against women in southwestern Gyeonggi Province, had spotted Jeong, 39, now accused of killing Woo Ye-seul and Lee Hye-jin, as a key suspect when it was investigating the disappearance of a 44-year-old woman surnamed Chung in July 2004 who worked at an adult telephone room. Jeong was the last person who held a telephone conversation with the missing woman at the time.

Three years after the incident, police had yet another opportunity to arrest Jeong last March. While conducting an investigation to find out Chung’s whereabouts, police found out that another female worker of the adult telephone room, who goes by “A,” was sexually assaulted by Jeong at his home. However, when “A” refused to assist the police for fear of revealing her identity, the investigation was halted and Jeong was set free.

On Dec. 25 last year when the two children disappeared, Jeong, who lived in the same neighborhood, was on the list of suspects. But the Anyang Police Station in charge of the case wasn’t aware that he had been a suspect for a missing case and a sexual assault case in the past. Jeong got away this time again during the initial investigation on the case, because the Gunpo Police Station had failed to transfer its investigation records to the Anyang Police Station. If police had succeeded in arresting Jeong while investigating the cases in July 2004 and May 2007, or if the two police stations had been in cooperation, the disappearance case of the two children would have been settled easily.

The parents of Ye-seul and Hye-jin, who had been in great torment since their children’s disappearance, are now suffering from much more horrible nightmares. Other parents with children were also shuddered by the terrible incident and are being haunted by the same horror. We welcome the Lee Myung-bak administration’s pledge to respect the rule of law. But it should be reminded that the rule of law cannot be maintained when police is unable to nab criminals who threaten the public’s peaceful life. The government must keep in mind that protecting the public from heinous criminals is the first step in establishing the rule of law.

Illegal acts committed by violent demonstrators in front of the riot police can be put down whenever only if the police are willing to enforce the law. However, what undermines the basis of the rule of law is not those illegal protests but the deplorable situation where our innocent children are being exposed to brutal crimes without protection.