South Korea Slams Diplomats Over Unpaid Traffic Fines

Posted September 21st, 2011 at 3:13 am (UTC-5)
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Police and lawmakers in South Korea are expressing frustration with diplomats who refuse to pay fines for traffic and parking violations.

Officials say that over the past five years, 60 percent of the fines imposed on foreign diplomatic vehicles have not been paid. The unpaid fines total more than $27,000.

Governing party lawmaker You Jung-hyun says compliance rates have improved because of new rules preventing embassies with unpaid fines from selling or purchasing vehicles. But he says the “habitual delinquency” has to stop.

Russia's embassy is reputed to be the worst offender with almost $9,000 in fines in the last five years. South Korean officials say it has paid about 15 percent of that. But a spokeswoman at the embassy told VOA “We've paid them all.”

While the Foreign Ministry no longer identifies the worst scofflaws, Russia was in that position when country names were listed between 2005 and 2009.

The National Police Agency says the countries in second and third place for the five-year period have paid none of what they owe. In the last public listing in 2009, Ukraine and Algeria held those positions.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy says American diplomats are probably among the most likely to pay their fines because the embassy deducts the amount of the fines from their salaries if they fail to pay within 30 days.