Saturday, July 6, 2013

Seoul City to Get Its Own Tourist Police


The Seoul Metropolitan Government will introduce a tourist police force to fight crime against and cheating of foreign visitors.

A city official on Thursday said the new squad will seek to solve inconveniences that foreign tourists face in the city. "We're discussing it with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the National Police Agency and other related agencies."

The officers are expected to deal with complaints ranging from pickpocketing to overcharging.

The city government plans to pilot the scheme in Myeong-dong, Jongno and Dongdaemun with some 10 officers in each location.

According to the Korea Tourism Organization, there were 897 complaints from foreign visitors last year, a huge leap from 468 in 2009. The city government feels reversing the trend is a priority given increasing tourist numbers. Some 11.14 million tourists visited Seoul from around the world in 2012.

Two options are being considered. One is to assign officers who are fluent in foreign languages at police stations within tourist zones. They would then be dressed differently from other policemen to be easily identifiable.

The other option is to set up separate tourist police stations, which would boost work efficiency by having specific duties.

The city is benchmarking Thailand and Malaysia, which already have tourist police units who deal with accidents involving foreign visitors, mediate in payment disputes, and provide information as well as emergency medical services.


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