The Enactment of the Refugee Law in South Korea

The ministry of Justice of the Republic of Korea (otherwise known as South Korea) announced that ‘the Refugee law’ will be enacted from 1st of July. It is known to be the first case among Asian countries to have an independent law for refugees.

It has been 20 years since the Republic of Korea started to accept refugees. There were nearly 5,500 people submitted the asylum application in Korea. However, only 329 people were given allowance to be refugees, until now. One of the big issues to asylum seekers in Korea, along with the very low rate of acceptance, is that it takes an average of 3~4 years to be allowed to become a refugee.

The enactment of the Refugee Law will be able to solve this problem since the decision needs to be given within 6 months from application submitted to the ministry, according to the new law. If the decision couldn’t be made within 6 months, people will be allowed to have the right to work in Korea. In addition, the law mentioned that people who submitted asylum applications will not be repatriated from Korea until they receive the final decision, including any suit that is in progress. Also, refugees will be able to have the same social security rights in Korean nations. Lastly, it is now allowed for asylum seekers to make an asylum application at the airport. Until now, they had to come into the country first, with temporary landing permits, and then apply to be refugees. There are currently 1,442 people (as of 31st of May) waiting for the screening, which is the biggest number in history. With the above mentioned points that will be valid with the enactment of new law, asylum seekers in Korea will be benefited.

There are currently some ongoing arguments that the South Korean government need to deal with the problem of budgeting and so on. However, we hope it will work well and have a good influence on surrounding countries.

Justin Changhwan Choi

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