Last year I posted about 2011 drug crime statistics, which, for foreigners, saw a massive drop to 295 from 858 in 2010. Despite this drop, last year the Ministry of Justice decided to expand the drug tests for E-2 visas to non-professional Employment (E-9), ship crew employment (E-10), or Working Visit (H-2) visas - about half a million people. Not that I would suggest that statistics guide policy making in any way - who needs statistics when it's simply well known that 'foreign drug crime is increasing'? One reason for this belief may be the fact that the media did not choose to report this decrease last year.
At any rate, the Supreme Prosecutor's Office has monthly drug statistics posted here, and the year-end report for 2012 can be found here. The 2011 year-end report gave us these statistics:
What the 2012 report reveals is that drug crimes went up to 9,255 this year, up from 9174 last year, a 0.9% increase. As well, there were 582 arrests for narcotics (6.3% of all arrests), 7,631 arrests for psychotropics (82.5%) and 1,042 arrests for cannabis (11.3%); the breakdown for 2010 and 2011 can be seen above.
As for drug crimes by foreigners, this year there were 359 arrests, a 21.7% increase from 295 arrests last year (though the report (below) says it's a 38.6% increase, which makes you wonder about the basic math skills of those compiling the report).
Here are the arrests of foreigners for drug crimes over the past 12 years:
Here is a breakdown of arrests by nationality:
Sri Lanka, 7
UK, Taiwan, 5 each
Egypt, Philippines, 3 each
Netherlands, France, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, 2 each
Spain, Singapore, Burkina Faso, Australia, Japan, Pakistan, Poland, Nigeria, New Zealand, Germany, Liberia, Mexico, Moldova, 1 each
The top four basically remained the same, with the US and China switching places this year. Here are last year's statistics:
Japan, South Africa, 3 each
Taiwan, Germany, Brazil, UK, Iran, 2 each
New Zealand, Romania, Surinam, Spain, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Ireland, Uzbekistan, Israel, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Australia, 1 each
So, since at the end of 2012 there were 1,445,103 foreigners in Korea, 359 drug arrests make for 24.8 arrests per 100,000 people. According to the 2010 census, the population of Korea was 48,580,000, and that 590,000 of these were foreigners, so out of 47,991000 Koreans, 8,896 drug arrests in 2012 make for 18.5 arrests per 100,000 people. So, 24.8 vs 18.5 per 100,000, which is to say that foreigners commit around 1/3 more drug crimes.
But it gets better. If we look at the 2011 statistics - the ones available to policy makers before they instituted drug tests for half a million foreign workers - we find for Koreans a similar 18.5 arrests per 100,000. And for foreigners? 21.1 arrests per 100,000. What a discrepancy. A simple look at statistics like these makes it clear that during the past two years foreigners have not committed drug crimes at a rate significantly higher than Koreans. In other words, there is no justification for these tests. Unfortunately, statistics such as these don't compare to the volume of media tales of 'growing foreign drug crime,' or to the xenophobic trope of Korea being 'defenseless' in the face of the foreign onslaught. It is these, along with a desire to exercise sovereignty over the foreigners within its borders - something always portrayed as impossible regarding the US military in the past due to SOFA - which is driving these unnecessary and wasteful tests.