SEOUL, April 4 (Korea Bizwire) – On Friday, April Fool’s Day, police officers and firefighters working in dispatch centers around the country started their day worrying about the prank calls they would have to deal with all day.
However, the number of prank calls to 112 (police) or 119 (911) have greatly diminished over the years. The fire department of Gangwon Province has not had any prank calls over the past three years, a sure sign of a new trend.
Experts comment that the strong measures taken against those who make prank calls have been effective.
According to police and fire department officials, there were only two prank calls made to police dispatch centers, and the fire department officials had only reported receiving one prank call as of two o’clock in the afternoon.
Two of the calls turned out to be unrelated to April Fool’s Day pranks, while one call was made reporting a fire. Six fire trucks were sent out only to discover that the call was a prank. The man who made the call was also a victim of the prank, as he called the fire station as a favor for a friend who claimed that his house was on fire.
The number of prank calls to Korean police departments on April Fools’ Day has been decreasing every year. The 67 cases reported in 2011 dropped to 37 cases in 2012, 31 cases in 2013, six cases in 2014 and only three in 2015.
Korean fire departments have also been receiving fewer prank calls. Most of the local fire departments including Incheon, Chungbuk, Daejeon, and Busan received no calls at all. Of note, no prank calls were recorded during the past three years in Jeonnam and Gangwon provinces.
A noticeable fact is that the total number of fake reports and prank calls made to both 112 and 119 has decreased.
Experts say that severe penalties are the cause. Law enforcement officials have even resorted to filing civil suits, as prank calls are a serious waste of manpower, resources, and precious time.
Officials at the Gwangju Fire Department added that GPS tracking also made it easier to locate those making prank calls. They also commented that improved civic awareness should was also helpful.
However, Korean police and fire departments are not yet free from unnecessary calls. Calls are still coming in from citizens inquiring about taking care of road kill, cracking down on garbage disposal, towing motorcycles that have been standing in a corner for a long time, or taking out stuck debit cards from ATMs.
The police and fire departments appreciate the decrease in the number of prank calls, but say citizens should only call 112 or 119 in case of emergencies, and other calls should be directed elsewhere.
By Francine Jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)