Behind the disappearance of 55 Thai tourists in the Hantuo group: Jeju Island has become the preferred destination for illegal migrant workers

Jimu News reporter Man Da

Intern Wei Yingjie

According to Yonhap News Agency’s report on August 7, the Immigration Bureau of Jeju Island, South Korea said on Sunday that those who had previously entered through Jeju Island International Airport The whereabouts of 55 of the 280 Thai tourists are still unknown, and immigration authorities are investigating. Although the purpose of these 55 people entering South Korea and leaving the group is unknown, Jimu news reporters found that there have been cases of foreigners staying illegally after entering South Korea as tourists before. In addition, citizens of 112 countries and regions that can enter South Korea without a visa need to apply for an electronic travel permit in advance to enter South Korea, but Jeju Island, an international tourist city, is not within the scope of this system, so Thailand wants to go to South Korea to work illegally. People usually choose Jeju Island as their first choice.

Screenshot of the official website of Jeju International Airport

55 people missing from the group and missing strong>

According to Yonhap News Agency, the relevant personnel of the Jeju Island Immigration Bureau introduced that the Thai tour group had a total of 280 people and planned to travel for three days after entering South Korea, but 55 people left the group and their whereabouts were unknown. Trying to figure out where they went.

According to data provided by the Jeju Island Immigration Bureau, 417 of the 697 Thai nationals who arrived at Jeju International Airport from Bangkok on a non-stop Jeju Air flight between Tuesday and Friday were rejected Enter and be sent home.

Many Thai tourists choose to enter South Korea via Jeju because they have a record of being denied entry at other South Korean airports, including the country’s largest Incheon International Airport, officials at the bureau said.

Jeju Island Immigration Office staff also said that of the 697 tourists who arrived on Jeju Island from Bangkok last Tuesday to Friday, 367 had previously been under the Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) Entry was refused, accounting for more than half of the total number. They chose to enter from Jeju this time because on Jeju Island, they can enter Korea without Korea Electronic Travel Authorization.

The preferred destination for illegal workers

South Korea’s Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) system was officially implemented in September last year.

For foreigners who have signed a visa-free agreement with South Korea or are allowed to enter without a visa, they can quickly and easily obtain a travel permit by filling in their personal and travel-related information on the designated official website when entering South Korea.

The system is applicable to 112 countries and regions that are visa-free and visa-free to enter Korea. Passengers must apply on the official website at least 24 hours before boarding. Airlines cannot issue boarding passes to allow passengers to board a plane without a Korean electronic travel permit certificate. Thailand is in the list of 112 countries and regions mentioned above.

However, because Jeju Island is an international tourist city, visa-free entry is available, which is not within the scope of application of the above system.

However, recently, there has been an increase in the number of people who stay in Jeju Island without a visa. These people are often foreigners who come to Korea to work illegally. Similar situations have intensified, especially since the restart of the route between Thailand and Jeju Island.

According to Thailand’s Sing Siam Daily report, just on August 3, 184 Thai nationals took the Jeju Air flight from Bangkok to Jeju Island, and 125 received “rechecks” at the immigration office. ”, of which 110 were refused entry and returned to Thailand. More than half of Thailand’s arrivals have been denied entry since South Korea “reopened.” Because South Korea is cracking down on illegal immigrant workers. Thai workers who want to go to South Korea to work illegally usually choose Jeju Island as their first choice because there is no need to register for K-ETA.

According to Yonhap News Agency, South Korea’s Ministry of Justice said on August 4 that it plans to implement the Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) system on Jeju Island to intensify efforts to crack down on illegal entry. The Ministry of Justice stated that the introduction of the electronic travel permit system can prevent foreigners who intend to stay illegally from taking flights to South Korea, and can reduce diplomatic frictions or problems such as leaving the group midway.

There have been Thais disguised as football cheerleaders to enter the country

According to media reports, South Korea often illegally stays as tourists after entering the country.

As early as April 2016, Yonhap News Agency reported that dozens of Thais pretended to be cheerleaders and went to South Korea with the Thai football team Buriram to participate in the AFC Champions League group stage. However, after more than 40 people passed the entry inspection, their whereabouts were unknown after getting on the bus. This is also the first time in South Korea that a person disappeared after entering the country on the grounds of watching football. The report also said that as of the end of 2015, there were 94,314 Thais stranded in South Korea, of which 47 percent were illegally stranded.

According to Thailand’s Sintai Daily, in July 2019, South Korea conducted a survey and statistics on the number of foreigners who illegally stayed in South Korea. The data showed that a total of 370,889 foreigners were illegally staying in South Korea, accounting for more than half of the total number of foreigners in South Korea. 15% of people. Among them, there are 140,000 illegal Thais, the largest number of illegal foreigners in South Korea.

In February 2019, Yonhap News Agency also reported that South Korea cracked down on illegally stranded foreigners. The Ministry of Justice of South Korea said that once investigated and punished, illegal stayers will be deported, barred from re-entry for up to 10 years, and their employers will be fined or criminally prosecuted. Industries targeted by the operation include construction, entertainment venues and massage parlors.

On February 21, 2021, Yonhap News Agency reported that according to statistics from the Immigration Policy Headquarters of the Ministry of Justice of South Korea, affected by the epidemic, there will be 392,196 illegal residents in South Korea in 2020, accounting for 392,196 foreigners. than 19.3%. In October of that year, the Ministry of Justice of South Korea notified that foreigners who have been vaccinated against the new crown in South Korea before December 31, 2021 (inclusive) will be exempted from fines and entry restrictions if they leave the country voluntarily.

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