Monday, September 06, 2010

Interesting inclusion into a pre- G-20 crackdown

Back in May, the government launched an incentive program aimed at encouraging foreign workers who overstayed their visa to leave the country "voluntarily":
Under the program, those who exit will be exempt from fines and will not be regulated on a possible revisit to the country. The authorities are aiming to reduce the number of illegal sojourners here ― estimated at 180,000 ― before the G-20 Summit slated for November. The program will run from May 6 to September 31.

Employers who come clean with such workers will also be granted exemptions from fines and be given priority in recruiting substitute workers.
There was an amusing comment left by 'ninjalo' below the article:
Wow, they consider this to be so important that they even added an extra day to September! Way to maintain your constant level of quality, Korea Times!
I digress. Last week it was announced
South Korea will extend a temporary grace period during which foreigners staying in the country illegally can leave and return with a visa without getting punished, the Justice Ministry said Tuesday. The grace period, which began on May 6, was to expire Tuesday, but the ministry has decided to extend it to the end of October to handle a growing number of illegal aliens who were leaving to be exempted from fines and a ban on future reentry.

A total of 8,958 illegal immigrants have left the country as of Aug. 25, showing a 12 percent increase compared to the same period last year, according to the ministry. As the deadline neared, an average of 113 people left the country daily in August, it said.[...]

By nationality, 3,169 ethnic Koreans from China, 780 Mongolians and 682 Thais went back to their home countries, the ministry said. About 180,000 were estimated to be residing in South Korea illegally before the grace period began in May.
The earlier article made it clear the government was taking a two-pronged approach, using both the grace period and a crackdown to reduce numbers. It seems another crackdown will start at about the time the extended grace period ends, according to the Gangwon Ilbo:
Organizations such as the Gangwon regional police, the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labor, and Maritime Police will conduct a joint government crackdown on illegally residing foreigners for two months starting October 22.

The targets of the crackdown include brokers who facilitate illegal entry and employment, illegal conversation teachers, and businesses which help the illegal foreign workforce [get jobs], including foreigners who take part in illegal rallies or terror and outlaw union activities.
I wonder what exactly "illegal conversation teachers" means. Perhaps teaching without a work visa, or those with visas teaching privates? At any rate, you rarely see foreign teachers included in such crackdowns, especially in the same sentence as people taking part in terror activities.

This article seems to suggest that the government is trying also to sweep homeless and street vendors off the streets prior to the G-20.


This KT article makes it a bit clearer:
The Ministry of Justice, police and other government offices have teamed up for months to "wipe out" unauthorized street vendors and homeless people spotted around meeting venues in central and southern Seoul.
Lovely. The phrase "wipe out" reminds me of a sentence in the first article linked above where immigration announced there would be "no mercy" for illegal overstayers caught during the concurrent crackdown. Such language seems more suited to a dictatorship or a colonial overlord than government ministries in a democracy.


brent said...

I'm not glad they're doing this. People who do everything legally are always punished here. We have to do all the checks and documents every time and pay the fees and put up with contracts. Immigration yelled at my pregnant wife because I forget to go in and just tell them that I moved my house when we had our first child and I changed schools. I got hit with a three year ban before applying to change my visa status- and they're not going to do anything to completely illegal workers.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how there can be laws preventing people to move freely. How can they force homeless people away? It's not like they have less of a right to hang around wherever they like than anybody else, is it? Yet authorities seem to do this all over the world whenever an event with foreign media attention approaches, only to result in a worse reputation than respecting citizens' rights would have achieved.