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Hwang Hyun-sook confirmed as the first female police commander

Hwang Hyun-sook confirmed as the first female police commander

Posted October. 23, 2019 07:36,   

Updated October. 23, 2019 07:36


It has been belatedly confirmed that the first female commander of police in Korea was the independence patriot Hwang Hyun-sook (1902-1964). Ms. Hwang is known to have been imprisoned during the March 1 Movement along with independent patriot Yu Gwan-sun. A personnel appointment article ran on The Dong-A Ilbo 71 years ago served as a clue to the discovery of Ms. Hwang’s career.

According to the Korean National Police Agency Tuesday that Ms. Hwang has been confirmed as the first female commander of police in Korea through a special appointment on November 10, 1948. It was previously known that the former Director of Jeju Provincial Police Agency Kim In-ok, 67, became the first female commander of police in Korea when she was promoted to the rank in January 2004.

When Ms. Hwang was appointed as a commander, it was the second highest rank in the police following a commissioner (director of public security). Currently, a commissioner is the fourth highest rank in the police following chief of police, assistant chief of police, and deputy assistant chief of police, thereby being called “the star of police,” but it was one of the highest ranks in the command group back then. Ms. Hwang served as a commander for a year, taking charge of four female police stations in the country that deal with cases concerning women and adolescents.

An article by The Dong-A Ilbo helped the National Police Agency discover Ms. Hwang’s career in 71 years. Ms. Hwang changed her name from “Geum-soon” to “Hyun-sook” after the nation’s independence from Japan and her original name was not on the female police officers list kept by the police. That explains why the police could not find Ms. Hwang in its year-long project to discover independence patriots among its members.

After hearing about the March 1 Movement in 1919, Ms. Hwang led the independence movement in Cheonan, South Chungcheong Province on March 20, making the national flag of Korea by herself. She was imprisoned for a year for violating the national security law. While working as a teacher at the Mary Baldwin School in Gunsan in 1929, she was taken into police custody for being the mastermind of students boycotting classes in Gwangju. She went on a hunger strike in protest while she was detained. Ms. Hwang established Women’s Party of Korea after the country’s liberation in September 1945 and worked as a member of the Representative of the Korean People in the Republic of Korea along with national leaders, including former President Rhee Syng-man and Kim Gu.

Gun-Hee Cho becom@donga.com