|Members of the newly established tourism police squad pose for a photograph at the inaguration ceremony in Gwanghwamun Square, Wednesday. (Chung Hee-cho/The Korea Herald)|
A special police unit will patrol tourist hotspots in Seoul to take care of petty crimes targeting foreign tourists in one of the rising tourist destinations in Asia.
The tourism police, launched Wednesday, will be in charge of handling fraud targeting foreign tourists such as pickpockets, overcharging by taxi drivers and shopkeepers, and many other complaints reported by tourists in the streets of Myeong-dong, Insa-dong, Itaewon, Dongdaemun and Hongdae, according to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
The ministry said tourists can go to a local tourism police center in each area or ask for help from tourism police officers who can be identified by a special blue uniform. The tourism police are fluent in English, Japanese or Chinese.
The tourism police service was developed based on research on tourism police operations in Greece, Thailand and Malaysia, the ministry said.
Korea received more than 10 million arrivals last year, which was celebrated as a milestone in the Korean tourism industry. Complaint reports related to shopping, such getting refunds and price marking, accounted for 34.7 percent of total complaints in 2012, up from 23.6 percent in 2008. Overcharging by taxis and illegal operation of taxi vans were also major complaints made by tourists, taking up 10-20 percent of the total.
By Lee Woo-young (firstname.lastname@example.org