Photo: Banner in Yesan, Chungcheongnam-do Province protests elimination of the local police station. Credit: Seoul Shinmun.
The Yoon Suk-yeol 윤석열 administration’s push to cut taxes, which has already eliminated the budget for critical scientific research and assistance for local governments, is now beginning to affect basic governmental services. Seoul Shinmun 서울신문 reports that the National Policy Agency 경찰청 will shutter 576 patrol centers around the country next year. Currently, 51.8% of 5,063 regions at the lowest-level eup/myeong/dong 읍/면/동 levels have zero locally stationed police. The upcoming budget cuts will increase that to 58.8% of towns, townships, and neighborhoods, leaving most rural areas with no law enforcement presence.
Also facing elimination are the Support Centers for Foreign Workers 외국인지원센터, which provide critical assistance for migrant factory and farm workers, who face constant wage theft and abuse, at 40 locations around the country. The prospective closure of the centers, which are often the sole lifeline for migrant workers, prompted a joint letter to the South Korean government from the embassies of eight southeastern and central Asian nations expressing concern. It is highly unusual for foreign embassies to directly comment on the budgetary affairs of a host state.