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Don’t Judge Detectives by their Stereotype
  • Park Ji-hyun, Cub Reporter
  • 승인 2009.05.29 15:30
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 Because of the private investigator movie ‘Private Eye,’ many Koreans have become curious about this kind of profession. Is it true, then, that what a private detective does in a movie is similar to his real-life? Or is fiction much more exciting than reality? Also, we wonder whether there is such a thing as a private investigator in Korea. To satisfy these curiosity, the Post met Kong Do-hwan, a holder of a Korean and Australian PI (Private Investigator) certificate and a man of knowledge and experience in the field.

The Post : Are there any private investigators in Korea?
Kong :
Actually, there aren’t any in Korea, as it is illegal to practice under such a nomenclature.

The Post : I heard you possess a license that allows you to work as a private investigator in Korea and Australia. But you can’t work as a private investigator in Korea for the reasons that you just stated. I’m so confused. So, what exactly is it that you do now?
Kong :
First, I have the license you mentioned, which means I can work as a private investigator in Australia. But in actual fact, I am doing something a little different here. I’m a security manager. When there are security problems, I investigate and reconstruct the problems and then make a report. A private investigator and a security manager have something in common in the way they investigate and then reconstruct a possible crime scene. I studied law and took a lot of courses related to private investigation. Furthermore, I had some experience working in this position for a foreign company. For these reasons, I can give you a scenario of what this might look like in Korea.

The Post : So what does a private investigator actually do? Do we have any misconceptions about this field of work?
Kong :
I think students are likely to imagine a private investigator as a Conan or a Sherlock Homes; someone who is able to work out who the murderer is through the amazing powers of deductive reasoning. But this doesn’t happen in real life. In our society, the emphasis is put on hard investigation rather than waiting for a eureka moment like Sherlock Holmes or Conan. Also people think a private investigator is able to work in many areas. But, actually, most security work is already packed with professional experts; this means that there are only a few places where a private investigator can find work.

The Post : So is it difficult for a private investigator to find steady employment?
Kong :
It is true that we are working in an ever-narrowing field. But don’t worry. It is possible to work undercover for a lawyer in a law suit. There is a lot of potential in this field because in order to win a trial here a lawyer needs to find definite evidence to prove in a Korean court. A private investigator can help the lawyer by acquiring evidence and reconstructing the facts. Therefore, it is expected that the demand for private investigators will increase in this area.

The Post : What kinds of systems are needed to private investigator to be settled as a job in Korea?
Kong :
Above all, law recognizing the private investigator as a job and right to investigate needs to be enacted. If this law is acted, not only social private investigator’s status improves, but also the security of private investigator will be assured. Eventually, this system guarantees the right of the job. I think that it makes people get more attention to be a private investigator. Everything carries responsibility so it needs restriction and punishment, too. To prevent the situation that private investigator would misuse the power, the right of the investigation that ordinary people can’t get, the strict restrictions have to be legislated. And the investigation fee needs to be established by law. If this is not decided before, the fee will be skyrocketing by the supply and the poor couldn’t hire the private investigator. Moreover, the gap between the haves and have-nots will be much wider. So I think these all systems that I mentioned are badly needed to be prepared to settle the private investigator.

The Post : What should one study in order to become a private investigator?
Kong :
There is no typical way of becoming a private detective. As I mentioned, the law suit work is potentially lucrative, so I suggest that you study law and take courses that will help you improve your investigative skills - the PI (Private Investigator) certification course is particularly useful. If, however, it is impossible for you to study Law, the most important thing is to acquire some professional knowledge in detective work.

The Post : Do you have any advice for students who want to be a private investigator?
Kong :
Don’t jump into this field without any thought. Don’t let fantasy get hold of your reasoning! To become a real private investigator, you must receive hard training and master the art of investigation. Remember, always, that this is a really tough line of work. After talking with Mr. Kong, we realized that private investigative was tougher work than we usually assumed. I think that people who want to do this kind of job should consider the reality of becoming one in Korea.

By Park Ji-hyun, Cub Reporter

Useful tip
To meet the demand of people who want to become a private investigator, the Institute for Socially Relevant Education opened a PI (Private Investigator) course in May. If you want to get more information about this course, visit this site: http://edulife.dongguk.edu.

Park Ji-hyun, Cub Reporter  bungaeo0@dongguk.edu

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