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Exercising Governmental Authority
By Kim Cheol-woong, Senior Editorial Writer
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Contactus, a service business, unleashed indiscriminate violence at the site of an auto parts company, SJM; and as coverage of this incident spread, another company slowly approached the tips of our tongues.

It is Blackwater, a privatized military company in the U.S. that operated in full swing during the Iraq War. A privatized military company may sound unfamiliar, but if we call them "a private military" or "a war agency," this may help you understand. If you have a keen eye, you may recognize the familiar name, Blackwater, and recall the company's notorious actions.

In the heat of the Iraq War, in September 2007, when a mortar landed near a US State Department vehicle, which was running along the streets of Baghdad, Blackwater guards opened fire indiscriminately, killing 17 civilians.

On August 5, with barbed-wire fences blocking the main gate of the SJM plant in Banwol Industrial Complex in Ansan-si, Gyeonggi Province, the security guards of Contactus guard the gate from within. Hong Do-eun



Blackwater's claim that its actions were in response to an attack by armed Iraqis was revealed to be false. Blackwater mainly deals with the security and escort of key figures and the security of buildings, but occasionally they take direct part in military activities such as combat.

In this regard, it is a new provider of hired soldiers. Perhaps because of the negative nuance of black water, which can also refer to blackwater fever and waste water, they changed their name to Xe Services.

Is there a rationale in recalling Blackwater when we witness the rise of Contactus? There is. First, Contactus claims itself to be a privatized military company.

Contactus has currently closed its website announcing an apology for causing concern over the disgraceful incident; but in the past, it made public its aim to become a privatized military company by listing the military equipment it owned. It announced that it was entering places like Afghanistan.

This is what makes us think of America's major private military, Blackwater. So do the speculations that Contactus is being protected because of its close ties with the government, and the fact that the chief of police who had jurisdiction over the incident, in which the company unleashed "private violence" at workers was revealed to have knowingly neglected the issue. This is a private company executing governmental authority.

The number of cases in which private firms execute public power has increased, particularly under the current government. Last year, when the Hope Bus visited Hanjin Heavy Industries, the Korea Parent Federation charged onto the bus and checked the passengers.

In 2009, some extreme rightists swarmed to the public memorial of the former president Roh Moo-hyun in front of Daehanmun Gate, Seoul and shot tear gas guns. These incidents and the fall in governmental authority make up the two sides of a coin.

If we must classify them, we can say that the obstruction of anti-government demonstrations by the far-right is somewhat amateur, while the execution of public authority by Contactus is more the works of a professional.

Copyright The Kyunghyang Shinmun. All rights reserved. Reproduction and redistribution without permission absolutely prohibited.

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