Sunday, March 7, 2010

Felonious monks

Yonhap is reporting an increase in serious crimes among the largely single population of foreign residents (hence the oh-so-clever title):
Violent crimes committed by foreigners in South Korea rose 18 percent last year from a year earlier, a police report showed Wednesday.

The National Police Agency (NPA) said in its report that 7,812 foreigners were detained in 2009 for committing such felonies as murder, robbery and rape, up from 6,615 the previous year.

By type of crime, robberies nearly doubled to 260 from 133, while theft rose 45 percent to 2,001 from 1,343, the report showed.

"While the crime rate is going up in accordance with the surge in the number of foreigners staying in the nation, it could also be attributable to last year's intensive crackdown on crimes committed by foreigners," an NPA official said.

According to the Justice Ministry, 870,636 foreigners were living in South Korea as of December last year, with the number steadily rising from 854,000 in 2008 and 765,000 in 2007.
Naturally one should ask if the increase in total violent crimes is commensurate with any increase in foreign nationals. Well, using their numbers, we have a rate of 897 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2009, versus 865 violent crimes per 100,000 in 2008. This represents about a four percent increase in the rate.

Hold on, make that 897 versus 864 arrests for violent crime. This could mean a lot of different things. Greater attention to crime committed not just by foreign nationals but also against foreign nationals could lead to an increase in arrests even if the actual incidence of crime committed by foreign nationals were to have decreased (and I have no particular reason to believe that's the case, just throwing that out as a reasonable possibility).

Similarly, though, these numbers don't necessarily point to a more law-abiding foreign population vis-à-vis the KoKo population. I've never been fond of the "well, the Korean population has even more arrests!" argument, since it compares all Koreans with anglophone foreigners who tend to be of a more educated socioeconomic class, thus an apples-and-oranges comparison.

Anyway, it's nice to see that they're separating out the traffic tickets from the serious crime (anti-USFK leftists would lump all legal matters into one number, with murders and running of red lights all lumped together as equals) but it is dismaying to see any significant amount of crime going on at all.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, duh. I could have saved myself a lot of time just by pointing that out instead of making the same point.

    For the most part, the various foreign communities in Korea are pretty well-behaved. Not completely, but mostly.


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