Thursday, October 29, 2009

Well, at least the Korea Times has a sense of humour

In the Times the other day, Justice Minister Lee Kwi-nam wrote a message describing how Korea was going to enforce a "consistent and intensified" crackdown on and deportation of as many illegal immigrants as possible and described a plan to fingerprint and photograph all foreigners coming into the country. The name of the article?

Minister Committed to Open Society for Foreigners


We're also told that
today Korea has become one of the most quintessential immigrant nations with a large immigrant population. The number of immigrants in Korea has exceeded 1.15 million, accounting for 2.3 percent of the entire population.
Actually, this number includes tourists and short term stayers (B and C visas), who aren't really immigrants. Last year the number of residents was calculated by immigration to be 854,007.

This was interesting:
On the other hand, since 2002, the number of people who have lost or renounced their nationality has increased to approximately 1.8 million, far surpassing the current 83,000 naturalized or newly reinstated Korean citizens. And this phenomenon in the net outflow of Korean citizens has been continuing.
And I see logic isn't seen as being necessary when devising immigration policy:
To ease anti-foreign workers sentiment, under the principles of the rule of law, the government strictly cracks down on the foreigners illegally overstaying their visa.

At the same time, the government encourages the illegal migrant workers to depart this country of their own volition by discharging them from fines and minimizing entry restrictions, which enables them to re-enter Korea.
We want you out! But come back any time.

He also mentions the ability to get re-entry visas and the like online, which sounds great. Has anyone tried that?


Stafford said...

People have been able to get their single and multi entry visas and indeed extend there stays on line for a couple of years now from for some time now. You can use your credit card for things that cost or you can use the service to make an appointment if you need to or want to go to immigration in person. (Always fun walking through a group of frazzeled looking Canadians straight to the desk at Immigration!)
Best thing? It'll send you a text message to tell you if your application is approved :-)

Sperwer said...

It seems like ROKGOV is being as good as the Minister's words. This evening in my neighborhood Jongno-gu officials accompanied by the police were going door-to-door interrogating housemaids and demanding to see their documentation and work permits.

Anonymous said...

The article in question:
Minister Committed to Open Society for Foreigners

Anonymous said...

Yet more Korean Times humour here.

SNUE Takes Lead in Quest for Multicultural Society

SNUE President Song Kwang-yong stressed that Korean teachers should replace native English-speaking teachers as soon as possible. "The native speakers are not qualified and are often involved in sexual harassment and drugs."

Darth Babaganoosh said...

Anonymous, guess who wrote that last one? Three guesses and the first two don't count.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip. I had never heard of this guy before. But Googling his name returns
which I guess sums it up.

matt said...

Good to know that option is available. Strangely, the last time I went to Mok-dong, there were only five people in front of me; I seemed to have timed my visit (at lunch time!) perfectly.

Thanks for sharing that. Viva la fifth republic. Strange that it's taking place in Jongno-gu, and not places known to have more migrant workers.

Anonymous (1):
Thanks for pointing out the forgotten link. Perhaps it should have been "Minister Committed to Open Season On Foreigners."

Anonymous (2) and ROK Hound:
Thanks for pointing that out. I do wonder if he actually said that. In fact, that's worth posting about...

matt said...

See here for a history of Kang's misrepresentations.

Sperwer said...

They are really putting on the full court press.

Having ascertained yesterday that we have a Chinese-Korean housekeeper, the authorities were back again this afternoon with a lengthy questionnaire, despite the facts that she is legally here and that we went through the whole rigamarole of registering her working status after failing to obtain any Korean applicants for the position after having advertised the same through the required employment agencies.

I'm not sure I understand the point of her doing so, but my wife, who happened to be home preparing for an overseas business trip, answered the door and feigned that the housekeeper had left (out of fear of the officials). The powers that be then asked about me - I was out - and wanted to proceed with the questionnaire, having my wife answer for me(!). She did, declining to answer many questions that she said only pertained to Asian, illegal and/or very low income people. I was a little annoyed when I found out that I had been deprived of the opportunity to answer questions along the lines of how I would assess Korean treatment of foreigners (I would have begun with noting the inquisitorial nature of the interview and the fact that the questioners apparently weren't prepared to proceed in any language except Korean (which I can navigate well enough for these purposes).

As far as our housekeeper is concerned, "apparently" it no longer matters that she's a legal resident alien and has a work permit. The officials claim that under the newly revised law that unless my wife and I can both prove that we are gainfully employed, we are no longer entitled to have a foreign housekeeper, nor is she entitled to work for us. This is a problem, because I'm retired. The officials' helpful response was that we should just hire a Korean - although our experience over ten years is that it's practically impossible to find aa Korean who is willing to live in and be responsible for child care too - or they expect to be paid as much as a Samsung middle manager.

We'll cope, but the transparent irrationality of the rules - if they indeed are the properly promulgated rules and not the result of some local official's wetdream zealotry - makes it hard to believe that the law is another other than an egregious piece of anti-foreigner bigotry.

Globalized multi-ethnic society indeed!

matt said...

Global Hermit Inc.

What 'newly revised law' is this, I wonder? Is the main idea that foreigners can only work as housekeepers in dual income households? (What of single parent households?) Does it mean all households with a foreign housekeeper must be dual-income, or just that all households with foreigners living in them with a foreign housekeeper must be dual income? Is the target here your housekeeper, you, as a foreigner, or both?

And don't they have 189,000 overstayers to harass, instead of going after ones who are working in Korea legally?

Sperwer said...

Good questions.

As far as I can tell, based on the experiences of my neighbors, they are also going after housemaids in all-Korean homes.

What I'm most curious about is the purported "law". I plan to go down to the gu office this week and demand an explanation by article and section number. I strongly suspect that this is going to turn out like the old issue of F-2 visas for foreign husbands of Korean wives. The law long provided that "spouses" of Korean citizens were entitled to the visa status, but Immo declined to issue them; in fact, they claimed it was contrary to law to issue F2s to foreign husbands. Having access to the law and the relevant regulations, and being a lawyer, I called them on their interpretation. After going through the usual bureaucratic run-around, and mightily pissing off everyone in the office up to the bureau chief by noting and being able to prove their policy violated the law, I finally was told by a sympathetic subaltern that I was right, but that there was a separate policy book with which the officials had to comply and who admitted that none of them was going to rock the boat. I didn't follow up further in a legal sense because it wouldn't have been worth my while at the time: they gave me an unusually lengthy tourist visa with no requirement for out-of-country renewals, and have been very accommodating ever since, including with the issuance of my F2 when the status was opened to foreign males.