President Lee Myung-bak on Monday called for drastic reform of the police agency following a series of corruption allegations and bungled rape and murder cases.
“We need to use the appointment of a new police commissioner general as an opportunity to end internal corruption and reestablish police attitudes to better protect the life and property of the public,” Lee was quoted by his spokesperson Park Jung-ha as saying during a meeting with senior secretaries.
In an untypically harsh tone, he scolded the police’s inability to tackle crimes and internal irregularities.
“Please formulate a plan for groundbreaking police reform, including outside opinion regarding the basic attitude of police,” Lee said.
His remarks came amid souring ties between the presidential office and the National Police Agency after the outgoing police chief indicated that the presidential officials pressured police to give favors to their confidants in personnel affairs.
Cho Hyun-oh, National Police Agency commissioner general, offered to resign on April 9 to take responsibility for the lax police response in a high-profile rape and murder case earlier this month.
Police came under heavy fire when a 28-year-old woman was murdered on April 2 more than six hours after she made a distress call to the police.
Also over the past month, 10 police officers were arrested on charges of receiving bribes from Gangnam room salon owners for turning a blind eye to the establishments’ prostitution.
In a new blow to the agency, Lee’s nominee for police chief came under fire for suspicions of military draft dodging, false resident registration and real estate speculation.
The police agency’s No. 2 Kim Ki-yong, 55, nominated on April 16, apologized on Sunday after he was found to have illegally registered his residence at a different location in 2006.
“I am ashamed for breaking the law as a public servant,” said Kim.
He changed his residence at the time to help his oldest daughter transfer from a foreign language high school to a regular public one.
Kim added that he changed his registered residence from Pyongchang-dong, Seongbuk-gu to his daughter’s friend’s house in Hongjae-dong, Seodaemun-gu for a month to help his daughter pursue a different academic interest.
Kim also took more fire on Sunday for suspicions of real estate speculation in Pangyo-dong, Gyeonggi Province.
It was found that in 2006, Kim had his wife named head of the household a month before the public announcement of an apartment bid, which they received despite odds of 43-to-1.
Kim also served his conscription for the Air Force Reserve in 1978, avoiding active duty, on account of having flat feet. But despite restrictive police regulations regarding flat feet, Kim received special police appointment in 1992.
By Robert Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org