The Korea Herald


Color vision deficient people to be allowed to become cops

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : April 16, 2024 - 14:38

    • Link copied

(Herald DB) (Herald DB)

A recent revision of ordinances related to hiring police officers will allow anyone who is not completely colorblind to join the police, the National Police Agency said Tuesday.

The Korean National Police Commission on Monday passed the law revision that would allow those with color vision deficiency to apply to become police officers. The revision will go through the deliberation process at the Ministry of Government Legislation, after which it will be finalized and become effective as early as for next year's state-run tests for police officers.

Those who are completely colorblind have not been included in the new measure.

The NPA had previously barred people with any level of color vision deficiency from becoming an officer, but revised the regulation in 2006 to allow those with the lowest level of color vision deficiency. The ordinance on hiring police officers does not state specific criteria for what is the lowest level, but stipulates that an applicant with such deficiency can be cleared to take the test after an inspection at either a state-run or general hospital.

But the agency in 2023 started discussions about easing the restrictions to include all but completely colorblind people, after repeated recommendations from the National Human Rights Commission.

Although very few people are completely colorblind, statistics show that a substantial number of people have at least some difficulty distinguishing colors. According to the Statistics Korea, 5.9 percent of men and 0.9 percent of women in the country have had varying levels of color vision deficiency as of 2020.

"Even after the regulation change, we will dedicate ourselves in the hiring and training process to making sure that it does not lead to a drop in police officers' ability to carry out their duties," the NPA said.

For specific lines of duties such as forensics, which require the precise ability to distinguish colors, the NPA will maintain the current criteria.

While the new regulation will adopt a more lenient policy on hiring police officer applicants who have trouble differentiating colors, it has strengthened the policy to weed out potential illegal drug users. The revision stipulates that police officer applicants got through detailed testing for six types of drugs -- methamphetamine, cannabis, ketamine, ecstasy, cocaine and opium -- in addition to the TBPE (TetraBromoPhenolphthalein Ethylester) assay in vitro diagnostic test that is currently conducted.