A video went viral over the weekend, showing an Italian person stopping his car in the middle of the road, getting out and while shaking his fist, spewed what sounded as obscenities. The scene was captured in the "black box" camera of the car behind him. The woman in that car was quoted by a cable channel as saying, "He cursed at me but I didn't get out for the fear that he would physically harm me."
The man, a resident in Korea, was outraged when he was honked at when cut in on the Olympic Expressway near the Seongsu Bridge at around 3 p.m. Sunday. He was booked without physical detention for endangerment by a sudden change of lanes. The police sent the case to prosecutors with a recommendation for indictment.
The second case was about a Saudi Arabian here for language training who was suspected of repeatedly stopping his car suddenly in front of another vehicle that he claimed didn't yield right of way. The incident took place on a busy Gangnam road on March 20. The third regarded a Taiwanese national, a company employee, who was suspected of making sudden stops after a car behind him blinked its lights on full beam and honked at him.
All three admitted to what they were suspected of doing, when confronted with the videos capturing them in action but claimed that they didn't know they had committed a crime.
Gangnam police in southern Seoul said that many reported so-called road rages or retaliatory driving involved foreigners, adding that they couldn't be an exception for the ongoing crackdown. "A foreigner may think that they can get away by cursing in his or her own language but that just may escalate the confrontation," a police officer was quoted as saying.
It is true that the three cases by no means represent the foreign community that now has reached 1.8 million. They may hope that they will be given the benefit of extenuating circumstances for not promptly keeping abreast with a law change, introduced last month, which has strengthened penalties significantly after a number of road rage cases involving Koreans.
Police should double down on their effort to reach out to expats because they are part of our family but at the same time it is imperative for foreigners to do their best to keep themselves abreast with what's happening outside their communities. That is the key to foreigners avoiding unnecessary brushes with the law.