Pubdate: Wed, 17 May 2000
Source: Korea Herald (South Korea)
Copyright:  2000 Korea Herald
Author: Kris DeVaar


To the Editor:

With the spate of drug-related busts in the news over the past few months, I
have to wonder about a couple of things:

Is this one of the Korean police's notorious "annual" crackdowns. Is every
puny drug arrest newsworthy? Finally, why all the hype about foreigners
using drugs? Instead of being a year-round deterrent to crime, the Korean
police announce via the media what their next target is and make their goals
known to the public as if there should be a quota on each type of
lawbreaker. It's a shame that Koreans seem to take a cue from the daft
Americans when setting law enforcement policy and place priority on
victimless crimes over those that really harm society.

Although The Korea Herald doesn't exactly take news reporting to the edge,
it is nice to have an English language daily available for native speakers
as well as for those studying the language. But, please, in a country of
some 45 million people, is a guy mailing himself ganja great journalistic
fodder ("Korean-Japanese student nabbed on drug charges," April 21)? My
biggest gripe concerning all of this is that things are presented from one
viewpoint: the government's.

Never once have I seen mentioned that marijuana (hemp) originated in Asia
and was indeed already a part of Chinese culture thousands of years ago.
Modern designer drugs such as ecstasy I would never defend, but why would a
government spend so much time and resources on a minute problem when a fifth
of their male population are bona fide alcoholics and the vast majority are
also hooked on the deadly drug nicotine? Another piece of news not mentioned
in all of these reports are the questionable tactics of the Korean police.
I'm not an expert on international law, but I don't think piss-testing an
entire private nightclub's clientele on hearsay would hold up in many
legitimate courts.

More troubling is the fact that when someone is taken into custody, they're
immediately urged to save themselves by turning in as many of their cohorts
as possible. Narcing is one of the lowest forms of human behavior.

Kris DeVaar, Seoul
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