Seoul tourist policing, Gangnam style

NEWLY MINTED AMBASSADORS: South Korean "tourist police" officers, dressed in uniforms from rapper Psy's costume designer, being sworn in during an inauguration ceremony in Seoul yesterday.


    Oct 17, 2013

    Seoul tourist policing, Gangnam style

    SOUTH Korea unveiled its "tourist police" force yesterday, with snappy uniforms from one of rapper Psy's costume designers and a "Gangnam Style" launch in central Seoul.

    Around 100 young policemen and women make up the first batch of the new force - formed to protect tourists from being ripped off during their stay in the South Korean capital.

    The officers were hand-picked for their linguistic skills and can speak a range of languages, including English, Japanese and Mandarin.

    "Those who think they were overcharged by taxi drivers or street food vendors can come and talk to us. We will help settle the problem," said English-speaking recruit Park Jae Hyoung.

    Each officer wears a badge denoting his language expertise on a special electric-blue uniform created by the costume designer.

    Psy's global hit, Gangnam Style, was played at yesterday's launch event, with a police drill unit performing his signature horse-riding dance.

    "The tourist police weren't created because this country is unsafe," Mr Lee Charm, president of the Korea Tourism Organization, told the recruits.

    "You are ambassadors who promote how safe this country is," he said. "From now on, you guys will be very busy having pictures taken with tourists."

    The police are unarmed and are meant to summon regular officers in the event of any serious crime.

    The number of foreign travellers to South Korea has grown steadily over the years and topped 10 million for the first time last year.