Beijing police treatment of Korean thieves sparks fierce online criticism

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 2:54pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 November, 2012, 4:26pm

Sightseeing is no longer enough for some foreign tourists in Beijing; at least not for a group of Korean students who decided to rob a convenience store on Thursday.

But what angered local people most was not the crime but the way the incident was handled by police.

After having dinner in a nearby restaurant, a group of 30 Korean students walked into the “Good Neighbour” convenience store in Beijing’s eastern Zuo Jia Zhuang area, according to local media.

They took snacks, cigarettes and alcohol worth more than 1,700 yuan (HK$ 2110), said the store’s cashier Ms Huang.

When the group rushed out of the store without paying, Ms Huang called for help.

Locals were alarmed and surrounded a bus the students had boarded.

The police arrived 15 minutes later and retrieved the stolen goods but did not press charges, according to local reports.

It was not clear what motivated the students to rob the store, but the police said it was probably just done on impulse.

Besides returning the goods, the Koreans had to pay 2,000 yuan compensation to the store and 8,000 yuan to Ms Huang.

The police’s handling of the incident drew fierce criticism from netizens.

“How could the police treat them as if they were above the law just because they have money?” said a Sina Weibo user.

“We can settle a criminal offence now in China? ” said many.

“I have no doubt I would be shot dead if I tried to rob a store in Seoul,” said another Weibo user.

I too cannot help wondering what would have happened if a group of Chinese teenagers had robbed the store. Would they have walked free?