Posted September. 15, 2009 07:40,
The national security investigation team at the National Police Agency raised the number of members from 337 last year to 378 in late August this year, a report said yesterday.
The report was submitted to Rep. Lee Beom-rae of the ruling Grand National Party.
The figure represents a 12-percent jump (41 people) over several months and the teams first rise in personnel since 1998, when the Kim Dae-jung administration was inaugurated.
The organization and personnel for national security investigation teams were cut in half over the 10-year period spanning the liberal Kim and Roh Moo-hyun administrations. The number of police in charge of national security at the National Police Agency, provincial police, and other police stations nationwide plummeted from 3,732 in 1998 to 1,804 last year.
As of late August, 1,818 police officers were in charge of national security investigations, suggesting that their number has plunged to less than half of that in 1998.
Under these circumstances, such officers have complained of significant difficulty in investigations. One working in Seoul said, We sometimes have many suspects to arrest when handling national security cases involving organized groups, but the upper chain of command sometimes orders us to arrest them one by one.
If we arrest suspects one by one, they often attempt to destroy evidence. So we can hardly investigate national security cases involving organized groups properly.
Another officer said, As security investigations are not being conducted sufficiently, provincial police that want to show progress have no choice but to reduce the size of security teams, adding, As such, police investigations into national security cases have been increasingly neglected, resulting in a vicious cycle.
The situation has changed this year, however. Personnel at such teams have expanded more than 10 percent, while a new investigation unit has been newly launched.
As a result, the number of arrests for security violations (spying and National Security Law violations) has gone up from 33 in 2005 and 35 in 2006 to 39 in 2007 and 40 in 2008. The figure hit 53 in late August, exceeding last years tally.
A program for national security professional recruitment, which had been virtually non-operational since 2000, was reinstated and hired 856 people in July. Seeking to cultivate national security professionals for police, the program will conduct a second recruitment in December.
A National Police Agency source said, We will select and deploy talented staff and thus galvanize investigation into national security cases.