SEOUL, President Moon Jae-in on Thursday urged the police to step up their efforts to better protect and serve the people, saying the police must be the closest and most just neighbors of the people.

"The people's expectations for the police are very high. I ask you to pay attention to the pain suffered by the socially weak and listen more carefully to their voice," the president said in a ceremony to mark National Police Day, which fell on Sunday.

"Our democracy and peace will become stronger when each and every police officer takes the hands of our people," the president told the ceremony held at Kim Koo Museum and Library.

Kim served as a head of the country's provisional government in Shanghai during Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea. He is also considered the country's first police chief as he was appointed the provisional government's director of police affairs in 1919.

President Moon commended the police force for ensuring safety during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games held in PyeongChang.

"(The police) have also helped ensure the success of the historic inter-Korean summit held in Panmunjom in April through elaborate and airtight security. I appreciate the efforts of the police, who have strongly supported the people's wish even without their due recognition," he said.

The president still urged the police to step up their measures, along with efforts to further develop their capabilities.

"The proposed redistribution of investigative rights between the prosecution and police announced by the government in June is based on the people's trust," Moon said. "Therefore, the police must significantly improve the fairness and expertise of their investigation.

"Especially, I ask you to come up with ways to protect human rights through the entire process of national security-related investigations. I ask you never to stop reminding yourselves that defending the peace through security-related investigations and protecting the basic rights of the people are the same thing," he added.

The president also vowed additional support for the police, reaffirming his election pledge to expand the police force by at least 20,000 personnel before his term ends early 2022.

Source: Yonhap News Agency