Greek police beat Korean tourist, stonewall investigation by Nathan Schwartzman

Original article in Korean is at this link:

While on holiday in Greece, one of our citizens says that he suffered anattack in which local police officers beat him and told him “Korean, Go Home” and used racist expressions. Our media have since overflowed with anger and outrage towards Greece.

On the 24th one of our citizens logged on to a famous internet portal site and posted the outrageous story of his trip to Greece on the 14th, where he suffered a beating delivered by multiple police officers because he, fearing that they might be imposters, had asked to see their identification after they had stopped him to ask about his travel bag. He wrote that hefirmly intends to stay in Greece until the officers who attacked him, and their superiors, are punished.

This is the story as he told it. At approximately 7 pm on the 16th (local time) he was on a street in Athens when he suddenly heard a man telling him to stop, and thought it might be a merchant or a swindler. The man was actually a local plainclothes police officer. The plainclothes officer was with other officers, who demanded to see the man’s identification. However, he thought they might be imposters attempting to con him. He asked to see their badges.

“I thoought they might have been conmen wearing police clothes, they had t-shirts saying ‘Police’ in English,” he wrote. However, the actions of the police were totally unpredictable. One of the officers whom he had requested identification  from punched him in the head. “I thought something was wrong with this  situation,” he wrote. He cried for help.

But the other two officers also beat him on his face, stomach, and side with their fists and feet, then took his wallet as he lay on the ground. He said to them “why did you hit me?” and “I didn’t know you were police. I’m sorry”, but each time the officers beat him again. He wrote in the internet post that “while they were beating me I saw their guns and even thought that if I made a mistake they would shoot and kill me.”

The attack continued in the police station. Unable to hear well for a time, he was released after learning the address of the police. But when he asked other officers in the station where the exit was as he was leaving, they told him “Korean go home” and used racist expressions. He wrote that “actually the worst thing of all, worse than the beating, was when they used those racist words. It was extremely deep racism.”

He went to the police with members of our Embassy on the 22nd in order to protest the unmotivated attack, but the police there refused to talk, evaded the questions of our Embassy employees, and then left, he said.

He wrote that “if I  cannot track down those two police officers I will not leave Greece until their superiors are punished. Employees of our consulate said they had never experienced a difficult situation such as this one. I want our government to protest as well.”

As soon as he uploaded his story the media grabbed hold of it. His post received over 30,000 views in the first 12 hours after he posted it on the night of the 23rd, with 570 upvotes and over 230 replies. Many others posted their own stories of terrible experiences traveling in other countries.

Our netizens heaped abuse on Greece, known recently for its economic woes and social unrest. One wrote that “Greece is in chaos now. In Korea if such a thing happened the President would come out and apologize, it would be that big of a thing, the Greek police should do the same.” Another wrote that “Greece promotes itself to the world for tourism and then its police use violence and racist language. This country should be forgotten about it.”

An official with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that “we are aware of the incident and are investigating the circumstances.”

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