Police reforms point to authoritarian future for South Korea
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S. Korean Interior and Safety Ministry blitzes through plans to establish control over police Hankyoreh
Posted on : Jun.28,2022 17:53 KST Modified on : Jun.28,2022 17:53 KST
The South Korean Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MOIS) plans to share an outline on July 15 for a new “police bureau” to oversee the police’s duties and organizations, along with a plan for internal regulations to serve as a basis for the National Police Agency commissioner general’s exercise of command authority.
The ministry sent a clear message that it would be wasting no time going ahead with its original plan, despite critics arguing it would be inappropriate for the administration to exercise direct control over the police. Police Commissioner-General Kim Chang-yong declared his intent to resign shortly before the announcement by the MOIS.The South Korean Ministry of the Interior and Safety (MOIS) plans to share an outline on July 15 for a new “police bureau” to oversee the police’s duties and organizations, along with a plan for internal regulations to serve as a basis for the National Police Agency commissioner general’s exercise of command authority.
Why Yoon is fuming over confusion about top-level police appointments
Posted on : Jun.24,2022 16:52 KST Modified on : Jun.24,2022 16:52 KST
…Many within the police believe Yoon is disciplining the organization for opposing his intent to deploy his close associate — Minister of the Interior and Safety Lee Sang-min — to establish a “police bureau” akin to the Criminal Affairs Bureau that oversees prosecutors within the Ministry of Justice….
However, the police and the Ministry of the Interior and Safety are two disparate organizations founded on distinct historical contexts, legal regulations, and organizational structures. First, the Interior and Safety Ministry is not in charge of public security and police affairs according to the Government Organization Act. This is because the National Security Headquarters of the Ministry of Home Affairs (currently the Ministry of Interior and Safety), which wielded enormous power during military dictatorships, was abolished following legal reforms after Korea’s democratization…
…Han Sang-hee, a professor of law at Konkuk University, commented, “What authorities a state institution has should be decided by law, and deviations from what the law states and means should be made passively. Authority over public security is granted to the National Police Agency, and there’s no room to interpret that the Minister of the Interior and Safety can exercise [such an authority].”
Don’t be confused by the administrative machinations in the Jun 24 article designed to make the National Police Agency look like some kind of rogue operation “passing the president’s authority.” The actions taken by the MOIS are ultra vires as lawyers say. The effort to reduce the independence of the police as an institution, is intended to circumvent the Prosecution Reform bills enacted by the National Assembly before Yoon took office, drastically curtailing prosecution powers to investigate criminal charges which were being abused by Yoon’s former office of the Prosecutor General. Yoon left office under a cloud which he and the conservative media sought to cover up. He was sanctioned by a Ministry of Justice Disciplinary Committee for unethical and unprofessional behavior. That behavior included unlawful investigation of judges, interfering in at least one case in which he had a conflict of interest, and adversely affecting the political impartiality of the Public Prosecutor’s Offices. Most of the investigative powers formerly held by the PPO were transferred to the nation’s police agencies to cure the abuse of power in the PPO which used its investigative authority to initiate prosecution of political rivals of the right, dissenters and other critics.
As pointed out in the second article by the law professor, the organization of the National Police Agency is established by law, and can’t be changed by regulation. This is actually an effort by Yoon to effectively give him total police power over South Korea.
Changes to law should be made “conservatively” is a better interpretation of the professor’s statement rather than “passively.”
June 28, 2022 at 4:59 PM #493406Cold Mountain TrailParticipant
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I appreciate the perspective on what’s happening in Korea. Being as its a US ally, or used to be.
June 28, 2022 at 5:37 PM #493414soryangParticipant
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There are differences between South Korea, on the one hand, and Japan and the US about how far to go with an anti-China orientation but the alliance structure based around the UN forces, US Forces Korea, and Combined Forces Command, is still strong. That’s bi-partisan in South Korea. The THAAD deployment in Seongu, South Korea is the principal fly in the ointment at this point. It’s the same in Japan, I think, people don’t want these long range ABM missile systems in their neighborhood. Yoon said he was inclined to deploy more batteries, which won’t go over well domestically or with China. Most analysts regard the THAAD as unsuited to defend against North Korea, and is primarily a forward defense system against China.
China is South Korea’s number one trade partner and despite popular prejudices about the cultural differences, and different political systems, between South Korea and China, I think there is still an underlying respect for China, due to the common cultural heritage. Both countries are strongly oriented toward commerce. I hope Yoon doesn’t upset the balance there. Some people refer to it as “triangulation” among the states on China’s periphery.
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