Friday, July 24, 2009

Good cop, bad cop

(My apologies if the above graphic choice trivializes the intended seriousness of this post.)

I would like to offer this post as a forum for people to describe their bad run-ins with Korean law enforcement. I'm not asking for names of victims (though a way to follow-up by email would be nice). In particular, it would be good to list the specifics of what police station, time of day, type of situation, etc. If you have "my friend one time..." story, please encourage that friend to tell their story. If you wish to be anonymous, email me and I'll remove any identifying details (or not post the story at all but save it as part of the corpus of complaints). 

These can include cases where you felt the police abused their powers (even in cases where you violated the law) or did not follow proper procedure, or when they were negligent or dismissive in cases where you were the victim or reporting a crime.

Criminologists in Korea are concerned about foreign residents not being treated properly by the authorities. Instead of griping in English-language K-blogs, it might be more useful to present a corpus of information to people in a position to do something. 

Of course, good stories are also welcome. When I get a little time, I'll try to include some of my own (mostly good, but some bad things, too). Be as lengthy or as concise as you want to be.


  1. Reposted from Brian's blog:

    [Tell that to] a friend of mine who was nearly murdered in a pre-meditated attack (with a pipe). The cops wanted nothing to do with the case, and had no intention of charging the assailant with anything.

    The foreign assailant was let go within minutes while my friend was made to wait for hours in the cop shop with a bleeding head gash and no medical treatment. They were treating HIM like the criminal when it was obviously a one-sided assault. The police in his apartment didn’t even bother taking photos or gathering evidence, and when asked for ID refused to give it.

    When they finally did take him to the hospital hours later (where he got a whole mess of staples to close up the head gash), the police went out of their way to tell the hospital staff that he was “in a fight” (not victim of aggravated assault), so his insurance no longer covered him, and he had to fork out several milion of his own money for treatment.

    In the end, my friend as victim was treated like the criminal while the actual criminal was let off scot-free without ANY repercussions or further investigation.

    Thank Christ foreigner on foreigner crime is taken seriously here. I’d hate to see it otherwise.


    This was at the infamously lazy and cant-give-a-fuck-about-foreigners station in Itaewon, about 2 years ago.

    I still have my own post-assault apartment photos (showing the blood and assailant/victim positions). They were the only photos taken of the assault. Looking them over, I should correct one thing I said.

    I had said they refused to give their ID and that’s not exactly true. They DID refuse for the longest time (because they knew we were going to report them for incompetence, probably), but in the end one of them did write his name on a piece of paper (which I have a photo of). Don’t actually know if that’s his real name, though, as he didn’t SHOW us his police ID.

    My friend has since moved to another section of town and on to a new job, mainly because the assailant still lives near his old apartment and he has stated he will attack my friend again if he ever sees him again (this threat was said in the police station in front of the cops, btw).

    Have the Itaewon police EVER done their jobs correctly? Any time I hear of an incident where they need to get involved, they do as little as possible and subsequently fuck the people who need their help the most.


    Further details not in the original re-printed posts:

    - The assault occurred near-abouts May 1st, 2007.
    - it was the Itaewon/Yongsan police station that was less than helpful (not clear on the details now)
    - the assailant was a dark-skinned SE Asian who spoke fluent Korean
    - the victim was a "halfie" gyopo who did not speak the language
    - The assailant claimed (falsely) that the victim tried to rape him, so he caved in his head (and he thought enough of this possibility ahead of time to have the forethought to bring a pipe with him??)
    - the assailant fully admitted hitting him with the pipe and fully admitted bringing it with him for said purpose

    Even if what he claimed was true (it wasn't), Korea does not have self-defense laws to protect him, and Korea pretty much always rules on the side of the guy who got the worst end of the deal; the assailant had not a scratch on him, and the victim had 60+ staples in his head... the CONFESSED assailant is innocent, he can go home?

    Where is the justice for the waeg there?

  2. Wow. The detail adds some more layers to it, though it nothing that excuses what happened. From things I've heard, it sounds like the Itaewon police run the gamut from jaded to disinterested.

    It sounds a bit like homophobic tendencies may have been involved here. I can imagine them hearing about the (false) accusation of the "attempted rape" and they just wanted to wash their hands of whatever the hell was going on.

    Wow, just wow. Cases like this are why there should be an ombudsman of sorts for foreign residents. The insurance problem (to counter the 외사계 at the police station, if necessary), especially, seems quite unfair.

    Thanks for providing details.


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