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Public Security Investigation Sees Decade of Decline

Posted September. 02, 2008 08:58,   


Public security investigation has suffered a major loss of influence and power over the past decade under the liberal administrations of Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun.

According to a report received by ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Lee Bum-rae, a member of the National Assembly’s Administration and Safety Committee, from the National Police Agency yesterday, the number of public security investigation squads dropped from 44 in 1998, when Kim took office, to 34 in July this year.

The Kim administration closed down 21 and 60 security branches of police office in 1998 and 1999 respectively as part of restructuring of law enforcement. The figure continued to go down under Roh, with more than six security investigation squads shutting down in March 2006.

The number of public security investigators nationwide also dropped from 807 in 2000 to 655 in 2002. It further shrank to 374 over Roh’s five-year term from 613 in the beginning.

The report said the majority of public security investigators failed to climb up the hierarchy within the organization.

Though 115 public security investigators got promotions in 1998, the figure fell to 65 in 1999, 29 in 2000 and 21 in 2001. A yearly average of 15 got promoted under the Roh administration, but even that number further fell to six last year.

The number of those arrested on charges of threatening public security, or spies and violators of the National Security Law, also fell.

In 2003, 173 were arrested for public security violations but only 39 were rounded up last year. Police caught just four spies under the Roh administration. The number of offenders charged with violating Article 7 of the National Security Law, which prohibits praising and sympathizing with the enemy (North Korea), diminished to 15 last year, a far cry from 152 in 2003.

A public security officer said, “Apart from certain security investigators who silently did their work with a sense of mission, the public security branch of the National Police Agency has lost its professionalism and morale over the past 10 years.”

“The overall commitment to public security investigation has weakened under the influence of those in power and social sentiment, as police and prosecutors put little weight on public security investigation compared to other areas.”

Lawmaker Lee said, “We need restructuring of the police`s public security function in the wake of the arrest of female North Korean spy Won Jeong-hwa.”