For some Koreans, the word for police officer, gyeong-chal [경찰] has few positive connotations. Many people often replace the word with derogatory terms such as jjabsa [짭새], or ‘gyeon-chal [견찰], based on the Sino-Korean pronunciation of dog gyeon – perhaps similar to saying ‘pigs’ or, for those of a more ghetto orientation, ‘po-po’.
Nevertheless, le flic in the above blurry image may have changed some of their hearts recently as a picture of the fluorescent-clad cop holding an umbrella over a disabled protestor in the midst of Typhoon Sanba went viral on the Korean internet, touching netizens (not like THAT). In tribute to their enduring tenacity, Korean netizen detectives have found and published his identity, causing Inspector Jeon Seung-pil to become an overnight superstar police officer.
Cop holding umbrella for disabled person during protest makes typhoon-like internet sensation
Inspector Jeon Seung-pil, ‘Being grown up poor, I have a special interest for socially vulnerable people… I’m embarrassed to get so much attention.’
‘Any Korean would have done what I did; getting a lot of attention for it makes me so embarrassed.’
On the 17th, when Typhoon Sanba (Typhoon number 16, Sanba is a city in Macau.) was striking The Seoul National Capital Area, Inspector Jeon Seung-pil held up an umbrella for a disabled person protesting alone, his attitude causing a stir on the internet. He said during an interview with the Munwha-ilbo, ‘He has disabilities. How could I just stand there and watch him getting soaked in the rain?’
Jeon passed the police hiring test in September 1994. He said ‘I grew up in a poor family. Being the first son, I was the only one who went to college among three sons,’ and ‘I work with this experience in back of my mind at all times, so I have always felt connected to those in need. I try hard to do my duty in their best interest.’
Jeon, a former Judo athlete in college, also mentioned ‘I became a cop to use my major and help my family financially. I have seen many disabled, socially vulnerable people protesting. I can empathise with them, struggling to survive, not giving up.’
He added ‘What I did on that day, in my picture, should be taken in context of such a mentality.’ He tried to talk the disabled person out of continuing the protest, saying ‘The weather is not good, a typhoon is coming. Would you carry on the protest on another day?’ But he said the protester was strong-willed, and added ‘I just couldn’t go past him, so I did what I could do, holding an umbrella for him.’
That afternoon, the picture of him in a yellow raincoat, holding an umbrella for a disabled person in a wheelchair with a picket sign, become an internet sensation through social network services.
Netizen reactions to the picture poured in, saying ‘It’s so touching,’ ‘That’s what real cops do,’ ‘Who is the cop?’ And finally they found his identity, Inspector Jeon, stationed in the 1st echelon, 33rd Police Unit of the Seoul Provincial Police Agency.
Comments from Daum:
A real cop offers an umbrella when a citizen is sick. If cops keep on standing by poor people, we’ll post only positive comments, just like what we do for fire-fighters.
It’s been long time since I saw a real gyeong-chal [cop], not a gyeon-chal [pig].
I’ve been calling cops ‘Gyeon-chal [pigs]’, but I have to call him ‘Gyeong-chal [cops]’, respectfully.
You’re such a nice person… People like you make this nation a better place… It feels good to read such a heart-warming story. I hope the disabled person gets what he wants. Both of you, Fighting!
He’s a good guy. He deserves only the best of what life has to offer.
We still have a decent human being in the Police Department. That’s very impressive. Brilliant!
I hope every police officer is like him. Thank you for your service.
I haven’t felt this strong an emotion for a long time. Do you realise what he did is a perfect example of what people are asking you cops to do? Inspector Jeon, I’ll never forget your warm heart. I appreciate your service.
When we try to find cops in police uniforms, it means we want them to help us. Yet in Korea, the uniform connotes something despicable that you don’t want to face. The more cops like him, the more beautiful this nation will be. He sure looks good in that uniform.
Why aren’t there many comments on this article… Anyway, you’re a true Korean citizen!
On that day when they were standing at the National Assembly, lawmakers would’ve gone past them, riding in an EQUUS or Chairman [cars]. Whatever happens to poor people, they always think of themselves.
Seeing this picture makes me cry. You rock! You’ll lead a happy life.
You’re the best!
This guy’s a real cop.. Mr Jo, on the other hand, is a dog.
Noms who need to watch and learn were not there. Inspector Jeon, I admire you! People like you make Korea beautiful.
He’s brilliant. I hope there are more cops like him, not that ugly ones stomping protesters and shooting water cannons.
It’s a natural thing to do, yet it stirs everyone’s heart. What a world we live in.
The more police officers like him, the better life in Korea will be.
His big heart affects everyone like a typhoon. Jerks who dared to post bad comments on this article should leave Korea… Go to North Korea, Japan, or wherever.
What a heart-touching story. ^^ He’s a good cop. Jeon, you rock!!