By Shim Hyun-chul
The unison of the man and the horse is perfect. They strut in perfect formation, and, with the snap of a rein, they quickly change direction, surprising spectators with their graceful and majestic movement.
The local mounted police, founded in 1946, are currently located at Seongsu-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, and comprised of a total of 16 horses and 15 officers.
Their main activities include appearing at various ceremonial events and promoting the local police force. The officers are also in charge of patrolling areas like Olympic Park, the Cheonggye Stream area and Seoul Forest at Ttukseom.
Now people can watch the officers every Tuesday at the Royal Guards Changing Ceremony held in front of the Daehan Gate of Deoksu Palace, in downtown Seoul. Starting from August, the officers will patrol the area around Cheonggye Stream and Bosingak directly after the ceremony.
``We aim to get closer to the public through the changing-of-guards ceremony by taking photos with tourists and also lift our officers' spirits by carrying out actual duties around the neighborhood,'' officer chief Kim Young-bo said.
When there are no scheduled special events, the mounted officers follow a tight training regimen, including drills such as lining up for patrol and training the horses.
``There are times when the horses become stubborn, but we take care of them like our own children, complimenting and scolding," sergeant Choi Hwa-kyu said. ``It feels good when we see people react whenever they see us.''
Officer Lee Chong-whan, who was a horseback rider at the Gyeongnam Horseback Riding Association, also enjoys the attention, saying, ``It's great because we can talk about the officers and horses. I hope more people will get to know about us. I'd even like to enter a competition as an officer one day.''