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High and Low: Ransom, whose responsibility?

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    Vili Maunula

    Here’s a question that has been nagging me for a while: who ultimately is responsible for ransom payments in a kidnap situation?

    Considering the situation in High and Low, where Gondo is being extorted for money for a non-family member, and the police is already involved, do you think that he would have been legally and/or morally justified to expect the state to cover the bill, rather than having to pay from his own purse?

    It wouldn’t have made quite as good a story, of course.

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    Ugetsu

    I would imagine that governments would always be reluctant to pay up a ransom as it would make them very vulnerable to fraud, or indeed subject to the sort of blackmail used in the plot for Dirty Harry. I believe that in Somalia some governments do indeed pay ransoms, but they do their best to keep it quiet or pretend that it was private individuals who pay up. I believe that in some countries where kidnapping is still a major problem, its possible to buy ransom insurance.

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    Ugetsu

    I guess some aspects of the plot are out of date now – apparently now ransoms are paid in Bitcoins. It would be hard to dramatise a handover of those…

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    Vili Maunula

    Perhaps you are right. It would just seem strange that Gondo should be held morally responsible for paying up in this situation.

    And yes, I can’t quite imagine High and Low with a Bitcoin exchange! But maybe Chris Rock will write it in for the remake! 😉

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    Ugetsu

    Vili

    Perhaps you are right. It would just seem strange that Gondo should be held morally responsible for paying up in this situation.

    I think perhaps the huge public support Gondo received for his actions was not because he carried out his moral responsibility, but the opposite – he was not morally responsible (at least in a rational, legalistic way) – but he took responsibility anyway. It was his voluntary assumption of the burden which led to the newfound respect of the police (i.e. the audience) and the general public.

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