I know what you might be thinking, but I promise that I have not been charged with any offences from my big night out in Jeongdongjin. Instead just a short post to reflect on South Korean law enforcement. Last night Taegeun and I were a little lost and looking for the right kind of bar. He asks a local policemen for some directions. I’m thinking about this. In England what would the response be? Maybe something like “down the road, turn left, drink responsibly and keep the noise down when you leave, sonny”..? Well here I listened and politely paid attention to a conversation that seemed to go on for about 5 minutes. Of course one that I could not understand a single word of. I was trying to imagine what possible information a policeman could be giving us over such a lengthy “chat”. It just kept on coming. Was it a review of all the major drinking joints in the town with personal recommendations? Some notes on beer quality, the range of snacks and overall ambience? It certainly felt like it. We exchanged some polite bows, said goodbye and shortly found just the right place.. Now that’s what I call public service!
The next morning our problem was where to leave our luggage whilst exploring Donghae. What would you do if there was no left luggage service in a town you were travelling in? Well the solution here was to leave it at a police station. Yes that’s right, a police station.. Feeling vaguely guilty of some recent train based window opening offences, I sheepishly stepped inside the local cop shop. I need not have worried though as we were met by two very helpful officers who took personal responsibility for our luggage. They were packing automatic 9mm pistols, but seemed far to nice to ever draw them. Good to know that my suitcase was well protected though.
Taegeun served his conscription time in the police, and I didn’t ask if there was a secret handshake. Nonetheless this is a world away from interacting with the police in Russia, where any meeting might involve a big problem for you.