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Police blame text message reporting system for mishandling of knife incident

The inappropriate handling of Saturday’s knife incident at Dangsan Station in Seoul was the result of the limitations of text message-based police reports, the police said Monday.

According to the police, the system limits the length of a text message to 40 characters, causing longer messages to be cut off so police cannot read them in full.

“The officers sent to the scene did not receive the details about the man and the incident so inevitably had to search for the person who made the report, which was done in an inappropriate manner,” said Won Kyung-hwan, chief of the Seoul Police Office, at a press conference Monday. “The police will be thoroughly educated to secure the complainant in a criminal case and to deliver the details of the report.”


On Saturday at 10:30 p.m., a man was reported to be threatening passengers with a knife on a bus at Dangsan Station. The police arrived in response to a text message report from a passenger, who had asked not to have his or her identity disclosed to the person with the knife. Officers nevertheless boarded the bus and publicly asked to speak with the person who had made the report.

Because the passenger who had sent the text message felt uncomfortable being exposed, he or she stayed silent and the police reportedly exited the bus without taking the necessary action. Even after the complainant secretly told an officer that he or she had made the report, the police reportedly freed the subject of the complaint after a brief conversation, causing the public to question their actions.

“If the police knew the man had a knife, they would have taken a different course of action. But as they did not know, it was considered inappropriate to have the man to go to the police station with them,” said an official.

By Kim Hye-soo (