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Jeju Municipal Police return to the saddle'I hope this unit becomes another proud heritage of Jeju,' says Governor Woo Keun Min
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승인 2012.03.23  14:33:31
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▲ Jeju’s Municipal Police Mounted Unit rides to offer a “friendly tourism police image.” Photo by Angela Kim

Jeju’s mounted police ride again.

The island’s Municipal Police Bureau — the only one in Korea — officially launched its mounted unit on March 8. It is equipped with 10 thoroughbred horses and nine officers.

A total of 330 million won (US$293,000) was allotted to the unit by the provincial government, with an additional 100 million won earmarked annually. The island’s first horse patrol unit was originally launched in 2000 by the Jeju Provincial Police Agency. Due to a lack of funds, it was disbanded in 2006.

The official ceremony was held at Seongsan Sunrise Peak in Seogwipo City, before many tourists and some 200 guests, including Jeju Governor Woo Keun Min and Jeju Provincial Assembly Chairman Oh Chung Jin.

A year ago, the provincial government decided a mounted unit would project a “friendly tourism police image.” Since August 2011, officers and the horses have undergone intense training at the Korea Racing Authority Jeju ranch.

“Historically Jeju has been known for horses … The unit was created to protect the beautiful nature of Jeju and tourism attractions,” said the governor in his congratulatory speech. He added, “I hope this unit becomes another proud heritage of Jeju.”

▲ Photo by Angela Kim

The 10 thoroughbred horses in the unit were donated by the Korea Racing Authority Jeju. Instead of Jeju’s symbolic Jorangmal (a Jeju horse breed), race horses born on Jeju were selected to highlight Jeju’s skill at race horse breeding.

“It was very difficult to create something out of nothing,” said Chief Kim Yong Chul, in an interview with The Weekly. Kim led the Jeju Police Mounted Unit in 2000. “Since I had previous experience with the mounted unit, others expectations were set high. [It] was a burden.”

Except for Chief Kim, the other officers — five male and three female — did not have previous horseback riding experience. They were selected for their dedication and enthusiasm.

“For the first three months, at least two of us fell off the horses every day because racing horses have a tendency to refuse to be ridden,” Officer Ko Han Na said, describing the hazards of training for a mounted police unit.

“All of the hardships paid off. We’re happy to see many people waving at us and wanting to take pictures with us,” said Ko one week after the unit’s launch.

Apart from patrolling busy areas around the island and being a visible crime deterrent, the new mounted unit will also be deployed for special assignments ranging from major events, ceremonies, festivals, and more. In a departure from the usual police uniform, the officers will wear Jeju’s traditional galot (natural persimmon-dyed clothing).

The mounted unit will be found at the island’s major tourist attractions like Seongsan Sunrise Peak, Jeju Olle trails, and Cheonjiyeon Waterfall, as well as at major events like the upcoming 2012 World Conservation Congress Jeju.

ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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