South Korea has a relatively low crime rate compared to other industrialized countries.

Headquarters of the National Police Agency in South Korea

Overview edit

Although South Korea has a lower crime rate than other industrialized countries,[1] the crime rate in 2007 was around 2.9 times higher than in 1978, with the total number of crimes committed rising from 513,165 to 1,965,577.[2] On occasion, sudden changes in circumstance have led to cause short-term fluctuations in the crime rate – for example, the crime rate rose by 15% following the 1997 Asian financial crisis,[3] and dropped by 21% during the first ten days of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.[4] There is also a problem in the nation with foreign criminals targeting it due to its relatively affluent status and the perception that it has lax security. 1.4 percent of crimes in the nation are committed by foreigners, which is quite low considering the 3.5% of the population is non-Korean.[5][6] According to British criminal Colin Blaney in his autobiography 'Undesirables', the country is targeted by English, Canadian, American and German criminals.[7]

Organized crime edit

South Korea has undergone dramatic social, economic and political upheaval since the end of the Korean War in 1953. With these changes crime has increased in recent years and has become a major issue in South Korea. Most of the increase has come in the form of violence and illegal activities connected to organized groups.[8]

Due to the large police and military presence after the Korean War, the expansion of home-grown organized crime was slowed, almost giving South Korea immunity against international criminal organizations. With no outside conflicts South Korean organized crime has had an advantage to grow, yet because of the location of the Korean peninsula many outside groups from Russia, Japan and China have started to engage in more illegal activities in South Korea.[8]

Amid the political confusion of the 1950s, a number of organized gangs emerged and became an influential force in the entertainment districts. Soon these groups began associating with politicians, guarding them from danger and disrupting the political rallies of competing politicians by using organized violence. These particular groups were the so-called “political gangs” or “henchmen”.[8]

Organized crime after the War started mainly in the city of Seoul, the capital city of South Korea. Two main gangs formed, the first was known as the “Chong-ro Faction” which was made up of members from southern Korea, and the second was known as the “Myung-dong Faction” whose members were from Pyonyando province. These two gangs claimed dominance over northern Seoul. With the military in control, in the years from 1961 to 1963 13,000 members of these gangs were arrested causing organized gangs to almost completely disappear (Lee, 2006). The 1970s brought an easing of public discipline and control, and opportunities for organized crime emerged again. This saw the emergence of two new groups known as the “Master Sergeant Shin Faction” which was located in the Seoul area and the “Ho-nam Faction” found in the Mugyo-dong area of Seoul. In 1975 there was a violent battle over territories among the two groups which ended with the Shin Faction becoming victorious. [9]

Traditional South Korean criminal groups fights rarely resulted in deaths as they fought with their hands, feet and heads. Knives and metal bars only began to show up as weapons in the 1970s. In today’s South Korean society, no person may be in possession of any guns, swords or knives, which may explain why traditional crime groups did not use weapons.[8]

Upon the assassination of President Park in 1979 “special measures to uproot social evils” were initiated under the proclaimed martial law which led to a decline in organized criminal violence. But with the relaxed atmosphere these criminal organizations remerged and flourished yet again (Lee, 2006). With the 1985 Asian Games and the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics global expansion became a possibility and criminal groups took advantage of this opportunity for rapid economic development. Taking advantage of the Korean government's open-door and globalization policies, these crime groups began to form coalitions with their counterparts in Japan, China, Hong Kong, and the United States.[8]

In 1990 the Korean Government declared a “war on crime” in an effort to crack down on violent and non-violent acts by criminally organized groups. The raids in the fall of 1990 crippled most of the existing criminal groups, but did not destroy them. As one way of better controlling the number of criminal groups, the Korean Government made it illegal to form or join any criminal organization. Statistics from the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office showed that in 1999 there were 11,500 members from 404 organized crimes groups ranging from 10 to 88 members in South Korea.[8]

With the trend of economic growth and globalization, organized crime groups in South Korea have become larger in scale and broader in their fields of operations. These international linkages have started to include drug trafficking, financial fraud, weapons smuggling, and human trafficking. Organized transnational crime has become a major concern facing not only Korean government, but also the international community.[8]

Drugs edit

The use of drugs in South Korea is a lesser offence; however, there are still drug related offences in South Korea. Most of the drug related offences occur in the Gangnam and Yongsan Districts. In 2013, there were 129 drug related crimes reported in the Gangnam area and 48 drug related crimes reported in the Yongsan area.[citation needed]

A Gangnam District representative said, “drugs are usually distributed through the club network, in Gangnam, foreign students and club operators tend to be involved in the drug trade, a relatively easy way to make money.” [10]

According to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, there were 7,011 arrests for drug offences in 2011 which was a 7 percent drop from the previous year. The U.S., by way of comparison, in 2010 made more than 1.6 million drug arrests, more than 36 times Korea’s figure, even after differences in population are accounted for.[10] The drug that is most common is Crystalline Methamphetamine also known as Crystal Meth.[citation needed]

Crystal Meth remains the most commonly used drug,[11] accounting for most drug related arrests. Other drugs that are well known are club drugs such as ecstasy. These continue to grow in popularity among college students. However, methamphetamine continues to be the drug of choice for Koreans.[citation needed]

Murder edit

In South Korea, murder is uncommon. Gangseo District and Yeongdeungpo Districts are the two most well-known areas where murders happen most often. In 2013, there were 21 murder cases in the Gangseo District and 11 murder cases in the Yeongdeungpo District. These two districts are found on the southwest part of the capital, Seoul, which house many low income citizens and foreign workers.

A Dongguk University Police Administration professor, Kwak Dae-gyung said, “there are many foreign residents that have yet to adapt to Korean society and citizens lower in the economic strata in these areas, there’s trouble in terms of economic competition and a lengthy period of cultural assimilation that leads to people committing violent crimes out of frustration and the need for frequent police action.”[10]

Corruption edit

South Korea dropped one notch in an international corruption awareness ranking to 46th place among 177 nations in 2013. According to the 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) issued by Transparency International (TI), South Korea scored 55 out of 100. Corruption Perceptions Index .[12] The index shows qualitative assessments of a country's level of corruption in the administrative and public sectors giving a yearly view of the relative degree of corruption by ranking countries from all over the globe. It uses data taken from opinion surveys of experts from each country. The reputation of the country's law enforcement agency has recently been tarnished after a number of ranking government officials, including the head of the state intelligence agency, were indicted for alleged bribery.

Some 86.5 percent of respondents in a Korea Institute of Public Administration survey of small and large companies described corruption among high-ranking public officials as “serious” in 2010, the highest result since the poll began in 2000. Transparency International, a corruption watchdog, gave South Korea a rating of 5.4 in its 2010 corruption perceptions index — midway between highly corrupt and very clean. That ranks South Korea alongside countries and territories such as Botswana, Puerto Rico and Poland but far below many of the developed nations it has sought to emulate.[13]

Prostitution edit

Prostitution in South Korea is illegal,[14] but according to The Korea Women's Development Institute 여성부 , the sex trade in the country was estimated to amount to 14 trillion South Korean won ($13 billion) in 2007. In 2003, the Korean Institute of Criminology announced that 260,000 women, or 1 of 25 of young Korean women, may be engaged in the sex industry. However, the Korean Feminist Association alleged that from 514,000 to 1.2 million Korean women participate in the prostitution industry.[15] In addition, a similar report by the Institute noted that 20% of men in their 20s pay for sex at least four times a month,[16] with 358,000 visiting prostitutes daily.[17]

The sex trade involved some 94 million transactions in 2007, down from 170 million in 2002. The number of prostitutes dropped by 18 percent to 269,000 during the same period. The amount of money traded for prostitution was over 14 trillion won, compared to than 24 trillion won in 2002.[18] Despite legal sanctions and police crackdowns, prostitution continues to flourish in the country, while sex workers continue to actively resist the state's activities.[19]

Sex trafficking edit

South Korean and foreign women and girls have been victims of sex trafficking in South Korea.[20][21][22] They are raped and physically and psychologically harmed in brothels, businesses, homes, hotels, and other locations throughout the country.[23][24][25][26][27][28][29]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Peerenboom, Randall (2013). "An empirical overview of rights performance in Asia, France, and the USA". Human Rights in Asia. Routledge. p. 16. ISBN 978-1-134-23881-1.
  2. ^ Joo, Hee-Jong (2010). "South Korea (Republic of Korea)". In Newman, Graeme R. (ed.). Crime and Punishment Around the World. ABC-CLIO. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-313-35134-1.
  3. ^ Mishkin, Frederic S. (2009). The Next Great Globalization. Princeton University Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-4008-2944-6.
  4. ^ "Crime rate tumbles in S. Korea". Times of Malta. June 13, 2002. Archived from the original on July 22, 2013.
  5. ^ "Foreign population reaches all-time high". 23 September 2014.
  6. ^ "Foreign Criminals Increase". Global Post. 25 March 2013.
  7. ^ Blaney, Colin (2014). Undesirables. John Blake. pp. 235–240. ISBN 978-1782198970.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Lee, Seungmug (2006). "Organized Crime In South Korea". Trends in Organized Crime. 9 (3): 61–76. doi:10.1007/s12117-006-1003-x. S2CID 143283064.
  9. ^ "신상사파 대부 "호텔기습 조양은,무릎꿇고…"". JoongAng Ilbo. March 18, 2013.
  10. ^ a b c "2013 Seoul Crime Rates: Rape in Gwanak, Drugs in Gangnam - koreaBANG".
  11. ^ "APAIC".
  12. ^ Choi, He-suk (December 7, 2012). "South Korea's corruption index falls". Yahoo!.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "S. Korea inches down to 46th on int'l corruption index".
  14. ^ "2009 Human Rights Report: Republic of Korea". U.S. Department of State. March 11, 2010. Archived from the original on March 13, 2010.
  15. ^ "Korea's sex industry is major money earner". JoongAng Ilbo English. 2003-02-06. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
  16. ^ "Asia Times - News and analysis from Korea; North and South". Archived from the original on 2004-09-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  17. ^ "Changing attitude toward sex threatens South Korea / Growing promiscuity, lack of education may lead to increase in AIDS, experts say". 14 March 2003.
  18. ^ Sex trade accounts for 1.6% of GDP. KWDI: Korea Women's Development Institute Archived February 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "S Korean sex workers rally against police crackdown". AP News. May 17, 2011. Archived from the original on July 22, 2011. Retrieved June 11, 2013.
  20. ^ "K-pop hopefuls from Brazil forced into prostitution in South Korea, police announce". South China Morning Post. September 2, 2019.
  21. ^ "Thai teen rescued from forced prostitution in South Korea". Nation Thailand. November 16, 2017.
  22. ^ "USFK: Troops cannot pay for the companionship of "juicy girls"". Military Times. October 30, 2014.
  23. ^ "They wanted to be K-pop stars. Instead, these Brazilian women were forced into prostitution, police say". CNN. September 4, 2019.
  24. ^ "South Korean arrested for trafficking Thai women for sex trade". South China Morning Post. August 19, 2017.
  25. ^ "S. Korea still failing to effectively fight human trafficking". English Hani. February 24, 2016.
  26. ^ "Seoul: Filipinas forced into sex trade with foreigners and US soldiers". Asia News. January 1, 2009.
  27. ^ "USFK video links 'juicy bars' with human trafficking". Stars and Stripes. December 20, 2012.
  28. ^ "Underage sex trafficking in South Korea getting worse". asiaone. April 16, 2019. Archived from the original on March 28, 2020.
  29. ^ "Police identify 8,000 people in South Korea's sex trade". PRI. November 2, 2011.