South Korea’s interior minister compares police protests to coup movements

South Korean Interior Minister Lee Sang Min on Monday criticized police officers who have demonstrated against the creation of an office to supervise police action with coup movements.

Lee’s remarks come several days after 50 South Korean police superintendents staged a demonstration to protest against the establishment of such an office on the grounds that it compromises neutrality and criminal accountability.

The protest went ahead on Saturday even though it did not have the government’s approval, Yonhap news agency reported. “It was extremely inappropriate for them to hold a meeting outside the areas where they are supposed to be,” the minister has asserted.

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“If this were to happen in the army, it would be similar to the December 12, 1979 coup d’état,” he said before insisting that “there is a specific group of people who are leading the superintendents.”

In this sense, he has assured that the National Police Agency “will investigate” those who have been involved in these protests. For Lee, this new office is “necessary” because it will allow the Prosecutor’s Office to carry out investigations and will prevent greater opacity within the Corps.

He has also rejected that it is unfair that the government has allowed prosecutors to protest when they have seen fit, an issue that now would not be met in the case of police officers.

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“Although much time has passed and another coup d’état is unthinkable, it is still a serious matter, that an organization is imposed to meet arbitrarily and oppose a decision of the Government,” he has said.

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