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Emergence of ‘soju against four major vices’

Posted May. 21, 2013 05:59,   


Witnessing actions taken by police these days, we fear that sexual violence, domestic violence, school violence and unsanitary and harmful foods will likely continue to linger in Korea in the coming years. Ostensibly, police seem to be making all-in bet in a campaign to eradicate these four major vices, but looking deeper into their actions, police exert efforts on something off the mark. The way they work is as outmoded as old songs from the past.

Commissioner Lee Seong-han of the National Policy Agency took the lead in singing the song. He told a meeting of police leadership nationwide on April 11 that “We must mobilize all police capacity to eradicate the four major vices to bring about tangible results by June 4.” This is rhetoric revealing excessive ambition, something that emerges every time when a new administration is inaugurated. As police chief, Lee should know that it constitutes dereliction of duty for police to mobilize “all” the capacity to controlling the four major vices among various crimes that police are tasked with handling.

If his bid stopped there, his move would have been simply regarded as a pledge of rhetoric meant to express his stern commitment as the national police chief. He took a step further by vowing that “I will hold responsible commanders in regions where achievements are not made.” It seems like the commanders are treated as students who are struggling due to their poor academic performance amid pressure by their parents, who warn “if you don’t perform well at school, you will be punished.”

No police leaders could afford to take lightly a warning of disciplinary action by the police chief, who will enjoy his two-year term guaranteed in line with the president’s election pledge. In a desperate bid to survive, they are engaged in a race to promote their achievements. When the Jungbu Police Station in Daegu created a “Les Policebles” as parody of the musical “Les Miserable,” the North Jeolla Provincial Police Agency produced a video clip entitled “Don’t Worry (about) Four Major Vices.” They have also appointed as goodwill ambassadors popular comedians, female singing bands and Winter Olympic medalist in succession.

Lately, even soju liquor aimed at eradicating four major vices has emerged. The back of the bottle of soju brand “Cheoeumcheoreom” features a label reading “Eradicate four major vices,” with a smiling portrait of singer Gu Ha-ra, a member of the female singing band Kara. This is a copycat of the label “Eradicate drunkards of violence” that was displayed on another soju brand “Cham Iseul” from last year. It is confusing to see these acts by police forces at frontlines whether they are meant to demonstrate “We are working hard on anything” to the president who put eradication of the four major vices as top priority of her national agenda, or to serve the public, the consumers of public security service. It would be apt for people to consent on complaints by rank and file police officers, who say, “They are meant to help commanders win special promotions.”

There are times when authorities need to focus on promoting awareness of policy. A case in point is policy that requires formation of social consensus due to possible social conflict and public resistance in the course of implementation. Four major vices are not the case. Stern enforcement of laws and prevention of crimes would be sufficient enough for police to earn broad public support. There is no reason for police to waste its energy and capacity to repeat outdated practice of producing promotional videos or appointing goodwill ambassadors. If they have such energy, they are advised to mobilize it to help people’s livelihoods and security.