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Private Security Industry in South Korea: A Familiar Tale of Growth, Gaps and the Need for Better Regulation

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: 19 Issue: 3 Dated: July 2006 Pages: 167-179
Mark Button; Hyeonho Park; Julak Lee
Date Published
July 2006
13 pages
This paper provides some baseline information on the growth, structure, and regulation of the private security industry in South Korea, along with a discussion of some of the major issues and problems confronting this industry.
Overall, South Korea presents a familiar portrait of the private security industry in other countries, namely, spectacular growth, gaps in the relevant legislative framework, and the need for better regulation. The paper first reviews the development of the private security industry in South Korea, showing its dramatic growth over the last 30 years. Its origin is traced to security services provided by the Eighth U.S. Army based in South Korea in the early 1960s. The first contract security services were offered by Buma Corporation, which provided KOSCO (an oil storage company) with a manned guarding service in 1962. The most significant growth in private security services in the country began in the mid-1970s. During this period, the Security Police Act of 1973 and the Security Service Industry Act of 1976 were enacted. This period also saw the creation of the first representative association, the Korea Security Association, whose aims included improvement in private security regulations and the status of security workers. Current regulation of the industry was revised in 2001 with the Security Industry Act 2001. It defines the security industry, a security manager, and a security officer, as well as the activities they may perform, training requirements, and licensing criteria. An examination of some of the problems and challenges facing the private security industry in South Korea focuses on improving training, addressing false alarms, improving the character and quality of security personnel, improving security technology, legal issues, private investigations, the relationship between private security officers and public police officers, and improving regulation. 3 tables, 3 figures, and 27 references