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Strict American cops, lenient Korean cops

Posted May. 28, 2013 04:17,   


An incident turned the Korean Embassy in the U.S. upside down in April 2010 when Korea was in panic in the wake of North Korea’s sinking of the naval corvette Cheonan. U.S. police caught a high-ranking official of the embassy who was in a massage parlor offering illicit sex services during his working hours. It was located in the suburbs more than 30 minutes away from the embassy by car. As the number of illegal massage parlors run by Korean expats increased, local police caught the scene. The high-ranking official was released after police investigation, claiming that he did not have illegal sex services. In “Missy USA,” an Internet community for Koreans living in the U.S., one posted that a car with a diplomatic license, which belongs to the Korean embassy in the U.S. (the first license plate starts with DWD), was found in the parking lot of a massage parlor. After the rumor spread through words of mouth, the embassy conducted an internal inspection.

The embassy tried to hush it up. How embarrassing it is that a high-ranking official went to an illegal massage parlor at a time when the nation was mourning for the loss of young soldiers. Han Duk-soo, the then Korean ambassador to the U.S., quietly returned the official to Korea two months later from the event, and the ministry got a resignation letter from him.

Next year, U.S. police caught two high-level officials of the embassy, who were officers from the Defense Ministry and the Defense Security Command, for drunk driving. They were caught by a police patrol car because they drove late at night under the influence and pulled their car aside on the road. Police found that the driver and his fellow passenger were heavily drunk and reported this to the U.S. State Department. In the U.S. where designated drivers’ service is not common, drunk driving is a felony. The Korean Defense Ministry brought them back to Korea. When the State Department sends a notice on criminal acts to the embassy, their career as a diplomat is over. It is such a dishonor for diplomats or resident officers to be brought back to Korea.

U.S. police is much more powerful than their Korean counterpart. It is unimaginable to resist against the execution of duties of police in uniform. Being shot after ignoring police orders and running away is not a scene in a movie but a reality. U.S. policemen take out guns easily to protect themselves from bullets flying from somewhere because normal Americans can carry a gun. Capitol police handcuffed Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray who was staging a sit-in protest on a sidewalk in front of the Capitol Hill in April 2011. This is quite surprising to Koreans, but not the same to Americans. Sometimes incumbent secretaries resign after being caught by police for drunk driving. Police do not tolerate men in power while enforcing laws.

A female employee of the Korean Cultural Center in Washington called 911 and reported that Yoon Chang-joong, former presidential spokesman, sexually harassed a female intern. 911 is an emergency call number for rescue in case of fire, emergent patients, or very dangerous situations. As it is an emergency situation, police come to the scene with sirens blaring. Washington D.C. police came to the scene and investigated the victim but failed to catch Yoon. It is not sure whether police caught Yoon or not but it seems that there must be an “invisible hand” in his quick return to Korea. He ran away from the scene to the airport, leaving his luggage behind probably because of U.S. police that go by the book. Without someone`s help, Yoon couldn`t have fled from the scene even after being reported to police.

Compared with strict U.S. police, Korean police are so soft that Korean protestors grab their collar and even hit them. Police have to hassle with drunk and violent people overnight at local police stations and patrol centers. Korea is a country where the people are not scared of police. How would Korean police have reacted, should Jay Carney, President Obama’s Press Secretary, had made a scene like Yoon?