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Korean police team launched for joint probe in Philippines 

A special police team of 63 officers has been formed to help with criminal cases involving South Koreans in the Philippines as a bilateral effort to better protect Korean citizens there, officials said Tuesday.

The National Police Agency said the special team, comprised of police officers and forensic experts, would be sent to Manila whenever Koreans are victims of crimes such as murder, kidnapping, robbery or rape. All are capable of speaking English, the authorities said.

Public concerns have escalated in recent years over the safety of Korean residents and tourists in the Philippines after dozens were killed or kidnapped. In the last four years, a total of 38 Koreans were murdered in Philippines.

This will be the first time Korean police have investigated foreign criminal cases since the police were established in 1945. No foreign police have directly probed criminal cases in Seoul either, as keeping public order is considered part of national sovereignty.

In an aim to better tackle Korean-targeted crime, Seoul and Manila launched a “Korean Desk” in 2012 under the Philippines police department, where four Filipino officers and one Korean resident officer work together. The two states also agreed last year to expand the number of desks, opening them in 10 other regions in the country.

Once Korean-related criminal cases are reported, the team members will immediately fly to the Philippines and take part in investigations. The size of the dispatched crew will be determined based on each case, the agency said.

About 100,000 Koreans reside in the country and an average of 1 million Korean tourists travel the country every year.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (rene@heraldcorp.com)

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