South Korea became a signatory of the International Convention on Refugees in 1992, but did not admit any refugees until February 13, 2001, when it recognized a 26-year-old Ethiopian man. (At that point, a total of 104 people had sought asylum in South Korea since 1992.) It was not until late December 2002 that a second person was granted refugee status in Korea, this time a Congolese dissident. In late January 2003, 4 more people, three from Myanmar and one from Cameroon, were recognized as refugees. By July 2003, the number had grown to 12, with 2 more being accepted by the end of the year; 17 people were accepted in 2004, bringing the total to 31. At that point, 360 people had applied to stay in Korea as political refugees; fifty-one withdrew their applications, while the government rejected 61.
As noted at Korea Beat,
In our country, from 1994 to last June a total of 2,336 people have applied for recognition as displaced persons, with just 116 of them receiving such recognition.So, in the last four-and-a-half years, 85 more people have been accepted, as compared to 31 in the four years between 2001 and 2004 (or 31 in the 12 years between 1992 and 2004!). Unfortunately, with almost 2000 more people applying for refugee status in the last four-and-a-half years, the odds have seemingly gotten worse, though it's difficult to be sure without knowing how many cases the courts have actually dealt with. The statement above may sound like it is made with the assumption that all of the cases are genuine, but this is not always the case, of course. Examples of some of these cases, with the court's decision, can be found here (do a search with no keyword to turn up all of the ten or so cases there), while the case that got my attention in 2005 is here.