+ A

Brokers made fake asylum applications

Apr 12,2019
Prosecutors Tuesday announced they indicted 22 people who allegedly forged fake stories and brokered deals to help economic migrants apply for asylum in Korea.

The 22 included a 53-year-old lawyer, according to Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office’s Foreign Criminal Affairs Department.

The prosecution cooperated with the Korea Immigration Service to crack down on refugee brokers from October 2018 to April. After investigating about 4,000 applications for asylum, the prosecution found around 600 suspicious cases involved. Some of them stood out because the applicants used the same mailing address. Most of the cases involved foreigners who entered Korea without a visa or used a tourist visa after reading advertisements from the brokers.

The brokers had designated real estate agents. Lawyers and administration agents acted as the office’s manager, mediating the application process. Licensed real estate agents forged documents and found licensed residences for the migrants and others served as recruiters, application forgers, lawyers and administration agents. They targeted people applying for asylum from Kazakhstan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Taiwan, Mongolia and Vietnam. Some foreigners in contact with the brokers were found to have worked in red-light districts in Korea.

“The foreigners we investigated abused the refugee law in order to illegally reside and work within Korea, not to be acknowledged as refugees,” said a prosecutor.

According to Article 5 of the Refugee Act, refugee applicants cannot be repatriated against their will until their application results are announced. This can take three to five years. Foreigners used this to work in adult entertainment establishments, factories and constructions sites in this period, the prosecution said.

The around 600 foreigners who were caught were either repatriated or are in the process of being repatriated.

BY JUNG MYUNG-SUK and CHOI EUN-KYUNG [jung.myungsuk@joongang.co.kr]