President Moon Jae-in called on police officers Friday to focus only on protecting the lives and rights of the people, saying it was the people they must be most concerned about.
"It is not Cheong Wa Dae or people with power that the police's eyes and ears must be directed to," Moon said, referring to the presidential office. "The police must become a force that only looks to the people and listens to their voices," he continued, speaking at a ceremony marking the 72nd National Police Day, which falls on Saturday.
The president said the police were doing an outstanding job in protecting the lives of the people, noting the arrest rate for five major crimes stood at over 80 percent while the rate for violent crimes, including murder and sexual assault, was over 95 percent.
Global tourists have also named South Korea as the safest travel destination for two consecutive years, he added.
"But you must not be content with just that. You must change and reform to become a police force that is loved by the people," the president said. "To this end, the police must clearly break away from their past wrongdoings."
The president urged the police to successfully complete its review of human rights violations by the police, calling it a last chance to regain the people's trust.
He also called on the police to maintain their political neutrality.
"I will completely guarantee the political neutrality and independence of the police. I wish the police work only to serve the people," Moon said.
The president promised greater power for the police, saying his government will soon begin the process of adjusting the balance of investigative authority between the police and the prosecution.
"Adjusting the investigative rights between the prosecution and police is a task that must be completed to protect the people's human rights. We will actively move the process forward from next year," he said.
The president also urged the police to enhance its anti-terror capabilities to help make the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang a safe and successful event. (Yonhap)