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Foreign workers face crime, health checks

Govt announces measures to stem crime and spread of infectious diseases

  • ucanews.com reporter, Seoul
  • Korea
  • July 3, 2012
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The Ministry of Justice yesterday said non-Korean citizens working in the country would be required to submit prior criminal and health records to secure work permits.

The move was announced in response to an increase in crimes committed by foreign nationals, the ministry said.

Under the new guidelines, which go into effect on August 1, foreigners applying for a non-professional (E-9), crewman’s (E-10) or working visit (H-2) visa would be required to submit a full criminal report when entering the country.

In the past, the government has required criminal histories only from foreigners who work as teachers or those coming from countries with frequent incidences of marriage immigration fraud.

"Foreigners who have violent criminal records, such as murder, robbery or rape, must be denied entry," Park Sang-wook, deputy director of the ministry, told ucanews.com today.

A Chinese migrant worker was sentenced to death last month for the murder and dismemberment of a Korean woman in April.

According to the Korean National Police Agency, the number of foreign nationals arrested in Korea rose from 14,524 in 2007 to 26,915 in 2011.

Kim Gi-don, director of the Korea Migrant Human Rights Center, said the new directive could lead to discrimination against foreign workers.

"With the new measures, people might have bias against migrant workers in Korea, regarding them as potential criminals," Kim said.

"The government has issued many policies to help migrant workers or multicultural families, but this one is contrary to these policies and might cause conflict between Korean people and migrant workers."

The ministry further announced a tightening up of health checks on foreign workers to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. Under the new guidelines, medical reports will be required from ministry-designated hospitals.

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