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South Korean Police Ordered Detainees to Remove Underwear

South Korean Police Ordered Detainees to Remove Underwear

 Chang Kwon Sung

As a growing number of South Koreans are holing rallies to protest against the government poor handling of the sinking of the ferry Sewol, the police come under fire for their inhumane crackdown on peaceful protests. On May 18, the police arrested protesters who took part in a silent vigil of what they call “Stay Still.” What is worse, some of the detained women were ordered to remove their brassieres during investigation, according to the South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh.  Seo Ji-young, one of the detainees, told the Hankyoreh, “During the physical checkup at the police station, I was told I had to take off my brassier because the wires in it might be used to injure or kill myself,” adding, “I found it extremely embarrassing to be questioned with my underwear off.”

This move by the police is a violation of the Supreme Court ruling that made it illegal to force detainees to remove underwear during their stay in police cells. In May last year, the South Korean Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that the police pay 1.5 million won in compensation to each of female protesters who had attended the candlelight vigils against the import of U.S. beef in 2008, saying “Forcing detainees to take off brassieres is a violation of the rules that protect human rights and ban power abuse, and it also lacks objective justification.” The female protesters filed a lawsuit against the police over ordering them to remove their brassieres during investigation.

In response to the controversy, Kim Kyung-kyu, a chief of criminal investigation at Dongdaemun Police Station, said, “I think the officer who asked the detainees to remove brassieres made mistakes because he has been here only about two months and is still new to the job here.” He also added, “I admit there was a violation of regulations and I try extra hard not to let it happen again.” 

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