Neighbors of former president Doo-hwan Chun, “Please go back to your home town now”

Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of an article appeared in <The NocutNews> on Jan. 31, 2012, reporting the security of three surviving former presidents. Former presidents in Korea are infamous compared with in any other countries since most of their presidency was marred by family-relative and aide frauds or policy debacles. For instance, former presidents Doo-hwan Chun and Tae-woo Roh, as former army generals, had original sins of innocent civilian massacre in Gwangju in May 1980. At the same time, they illegally forced ‘ruling fund’ from companies big and small (some were known to be broken up into pieces in the air for not following their ‘orders’). Although the court later ruled to withdraw those illegal funds from them through fines, they are not paying them completely yet. But, they still enjoy legal protection from country as former presidents, a mind-boggling situation in any country with modern judicial system I guess. Another former president Young-sam Kim also had frauds involving his own son. But, what is the more important is that, due to his economic mismanagement, Korea had to resort to IMF for foreign-exchange bail-out, causing countless economic hardships to common Koreans afterwards from the austerity measures by IFM. (However, IMF later confessed that the austerity measure they had imposed on Korea was totally inappropriate because the foreign exchange crisis was not due to people’s indulgence.) All rights regarding this post stay with the author of the original article or with <The NocutNews> and this post will be scrapped immediately at their request. In the post, I tried to match the English translation of names of people / institutions / positions to their authentic ones as much as I can but, inevitably, some of them may be different. Original article of this post (in Korean) can be found in the link at the bottom.

Private residence security of three former presidents … Doo-hwan Chun ‘extremely tight’, Young-sam Kim & Tae-woo Rho ‘slightly relaxed’

Neighbors ‘inconvenient’, ‘disharmonious’, ‘unfavorable’ … “not good for growing children”

2012-01-31 11:00CBS 이지혜 기자

As a broadcasting firm reporter was taken under custody by police while interviewing torture victims near the private residence of former president Doo-hwan Chun, public interest on the security of private residences of former presidents surges as well.

Police, claiming that they guard former presidents according to the law, make a sullen remark ‘why they are fussing only with us’.

But, people are angrily darting at police who guard private residences of former presidents’ who, not paying gigantic fines accrued from their illegal actions, simply enjoy their benefits.

Amid this conundrum, Seoul city mayor Won-soon Park at last ordered to review the possibility of closing the private residence security building of former president Chun whose time limit of security set in the law had already well passed. It is also expected that the guard and security system for former presidents is somehow expected to change soon.

If you were driving straight for a while after making a left turn at the Yeonhee interchange while driving toward Seodaemun-gu office and feel suspecting eyes of combat police darting at you all of a sudden, then you are quite close to the private residence of former president Doo-hwan Chun.

Former president Chun’s private residence was, until the mid 1990s, the target of hot-blooded college students, but their blitzing protests could not pass the Yeonhee interchange at all.

Although more than fifteen years have passed since then and it is 2012 now, the police are still guarding the home of former president Chun.

Possibly due to the scuffle that broke out a few days ago between a reporting reporter and combat police, the security around former president Chun’s private residence in the middle of luxury houses in Yeonhee-dong was extremely tight.

At both sides of about 200m long alley in front of the residence were two police posts with outstanding emblems of National Police Agency and ‘Seoul Regional Police Agency’ letterings. A police vehicle with two police men in it from Yeonhee police substation was moving back and forth the alley all the time.

When we reporters tried to pass the alley in front of private residence, one combat police asked “where are you going?” and, synchronizing our steps, treaded after us and made cringing smiles.

But, when we tried to take pictures, they hurryingly stopped us, and four combat police including one with an evidence collection camera marked us tightly. As a whole, five closed circuit TV cameras were observed around the residence to our bare eyes.

A neighbor Mr. Lee (64) who claimed to have spent more than 30 years in Yeonhee-dong said “it’s not like old times when demonstrations and tear gas canisters were flying; it’s quite silent now” and broke out a laughter “but, at new year’s day or lunar new year’s day, about 20 people in a charter bus visit former president Chun’s home, probably for new year’s greetings.”

And Mr. Lee added “It seems like former president Chun’s car was changed from Benz to Hyundai Equus recently; I saw him going out in an Equus. When he goes somewhere, two or three cars are accompanying him. I heard he had a policy aide; it’s quite absurd, isn’t it?”

But, Mr. Lee was critical to things happening around former president Chun; he thought former president Chun was only giving hard times to innocent kids (combat police members).

He said “He is acting like a king in a kingdom for over 20 years since his resignation. I hope he goes down to his home town Habcheon, Gyeongnam, sooner than later. That would be good for neighbors’ property rights, too” and wittingly added “Korea must be awash of money, right?”

Looking at reporter questioningly, another neighbor Mr. Oh (60) asked “Isn’t the legal protection period over now?” and added “everything is from tax payers’ money and I think we are doing too much for a person who committed serious crimes to country,” which sounded like a complaint or an anger.

The private residence of former president Tae-woo Rho, a friend and the successor of former president Doo-hwan Chun, is also near. But, the protection ambience was quite different.

We reporters could identify 4 posts and 3 combat police in front alley and 2 in rear alley were standing in guard.

The combat police here were also making fuss, asking “why are you here”, “you should not take pictures here” and radio-communicating with each other but, contrary to former president Chun’s residence, they would not follow our footsteps one by one or would not take picture evidences.

Neighbors of former president Rho also did not seem to have amiable feelings to him.

A middle school student Kang (15) responded cynically “I am not proud of him and don’t understand why we need to protect him after all. I don’t like it.”

What it would be like in Sangdo-dong where former president Young-sam Kim lives? The scene near former president Kim’s private residence below Noryangjin public park in Sangdo-dong, Dongjak-gu was not different from that of Yeonhee-dong where former president Chun lived.

Police asked whom we worked for and, though four or five combat police of posts at both ends of the alley and those followed us blocked us from taking pictures, the security was not that air-tight.

However, a police bus was standing in a broad daylight near a primary school and a playground not far from the private residence.

At a scene where tens of children going back home after school passing through combat police posts, neighboring residents remarked “feeling inharmonious.”

Resident Mr. Woo (49) said in a disgruntled voice “Even for a president with political accomplishments, people do not feel him as a common neighbor. But he was a president who caused huge economic catastrophe while running this country without any proper knowledge and had numerous close-aides’ frauds during his term. I don’t think it is right to provide security endlessly nor good for growing kids either.”

According to a material Democratic Party representative Jae-yoon Kim received from National Police Agency last year, it costed on average 851,930,000 KRW and 717,100,000 KRW to provide security to former presidents Doo-hwan Chun and Tae-woo Rho a year during 2006 – 2010 period respectively.

In particular, former president Doo-hwan Chun’s security costed 3.4 billion KRW during 2006 – 2010  five-year period. If we extend it to the whole time since his retirement, it would have costed over 15 billion KRW for the last 25 years in providing security to former president Doo-hwan Chun.

However, former president Doo-hwan Chun is not, in fact, paying a fine over 160 billion KRW yet.

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