South Korea paparazzi swoop on plastic bags, cigarettes

Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:15am EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Park Ju-min

SEOUL (Reuters Life!) - At paparazzi schools in South Korea, students are taught how to stalk their prey and get them on film, but it's not the celebrities they're after, just ordinary citizens committing minor crimes.

"Track down a person smoking a cigarette (in a non-smoking area). When he throws away the cigarette, film it. Later, collect his car license number," encourages the textbook at one of the academies, the Mismiz Report and Compensation School

The thrill of the chase grew as various government agencies -- some now not quite so sure it was a great idea -- introduced "report and reward" schemes that encouraged people to catch their citizens transgressing the law.

The opportunities are plenty, and even include catching shopkeepers in the act of giving away plastic bags to customers which, under a law aimed at preventing waste, they are supposed to charge for.

A new word -- ssu-parazzi -- has even been coined by adding part of the Korean for garbage for those who specialize in catching people illegally throwing away their rubbish.

The damning evidence is sent to the appropriate state agency, along with the witnesses' bank details, in return for rewards which start at 50,000 won ($36) and go much higher for more serious infringements.

"In just two weeks, I have earned 8 million won ($5,700) ... I feel grateful for the academy and my teacher," wrote one student on the website of another school, Posang Club, adding that he had paid several hundred dollars for lessons.

At 350,000 won ($250) for a short course, the schools have also provided an extra source of revenue for education-obsessed South Korea's huge private academy industry.   Continued...

<p>Moon Sung-ok (R), president and teacher at a paparazzi school, shows a student how to use a hidden camera during training in a car in Seoul November 15, 2008. 2008. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak</p>