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Seoul Suburb Worst for Foreigner Committed Crimes

Posted October. 27, 2008 20:43,   


The Danwon district of Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, saw the highest number of crimes committed by foreign nationals last year, according to a survey released Sunday.

Danwon police reported 1,173 crimes committed by foreigners between January last year and August this year, tops in the country.

Second was the Guro district of southwestern Seoul with 804 foreigner crimes, followed by the central Yongsan district with 695; Gimhae in South Gyeongsang Province 674, and the western Yeongdeungpo district of Seoul 624.

All of the five regions except Gimhae have more than 20,000 foreign residents in their jurisdictions.

The Dong-A Ilbo obtained a report on the foreigners’ crimes given by the Korean National Police Agency to ruling Grand National Party lawmaker Kim Tae-won. The following are excerpts from the report.

○ Increase in drug arrests

Serious crimes committed by foreigners are on the rise, including murder, robbery, rape and drug trafficking.

Of the 14,108 crimes committed by foreigners last year, 408 or 2.9 percent were serious crimes, a figure which reached 415 or 3.5 percent in the first eight months of this year. The number of narcotics offenses soared 45.7 percent to 236 cases.

“The increase in drug-related crimes among other felonies means organized crime is on the rise,” said Kim Yun-yeong, a researcher at a think tank on public security.

Yongsan district in Seoul saw the highest number of the four major serious crimes with 44 cases, followed by Yangju, Gyeonggi Province with 43; Ansan’s Danwon district with 42; and Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province with 33. The Danwon district made the top five for each of all the four felonies.

○ Lack of proper personnel

Despite the rising number of crimes perpetrated by foreign nationals, police stations lack officers who can deal with foreigners.

Each of Korea’s 1,096 foreign affairs police officers must deal with 912.4 foreigners, nearly double the rate for Korean nationals (510).

The situation is more acute in areas densely populated by foreigners and riddled with crime. The Ansan-Danwon Police Station has only five officers in its foreign affairs team, so each must handle 5,767.8 foreigners.

The Seoul Guro Police Station, which ranked first in the number of murders and second in robberies committed by foreigners, has six foreign affairs officers, for an officer-to-foreigners ratio of 3,467.3.

“It’s impossible to increase staff in police foreign affairs teams over the short term. Voluntary crime prevention teams and public security centers run in cooperation with provincial governments will be expanded for the time being,” an official in charge of foreign affairs at the police agency said.

Experts suggest prevention of social conflict stemming from crimes committed by foreign residents. “Along with severe crimes, foreign nationals commit other offenses like voice phishing,” said Seol Dong-hun, a sociology professor at Chonbuk National University. “These crimes can increase Korean hostility to foreigners.”

Kim said, “Compared to people in other countries, Koreans are unfriendly to foreigners. So more aggressive efforts are needed to prevent crimes by foreign residents.”

turtle@donga.com hjkwon@donga.com