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Koreans Becoming Targets of Crimes in Europe

Posted August. 01, 2002 22:06,   


On Wednesday, two Korean college girls were involved in a street robbery in France. When they are crossing a street after touring the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, France, a motorcyclist snatched their handbag with their passports and all the money that they are carrying in it. They put their passports and 2000 euro (about 2.3 million won) in one handbag.

They visited the police station in order to report and found a long line at the station to report similar cases, in which there were 7-8 Koreans and Japanese.

With an increase in outbound Korean travelers, and the resulting record high deficit in tourism, more Koreans traveling Europe are exposed to crimes.

The French Embassy In Korea estimates that Korean travelers in France, including those who visit France for language study, will have reach 200,000 this year. An official with the embassy said that some 2,000, or 1 percent of them, would be the target of crimes.

In particular, Korean tourists are said to be the favorites of French robbers, because they are carrying a lot of money in cash. Even there is talk that around arrival time of flights that left Seoul, “pickpockets targeting Koreans” flock to the airport. Many cases were reported to the French police, in which just after buying high-end designer brand clothes and getting out of the shop, Korean travelers were got stripped. Nowadays, many shops are on sale in France, so there are many Korean tourists buying those expensive products.

Because it became difficult for foreigners to enter the U.S. after the September 11th terrorists’ attack on U.S. soil, more and more students fly to Britain and other European countries to study languages. As a result, more Korean students fall a victim to crimes than before. In Britain and France, 15,000 people and 2,000, respectively, are staying for language study.

Last year and this year, many violent crimes against Korean students took place in France and Britain, which include the killing of Korean students studying language in the two countries. The number of reports involving robbery and burglary cases is also rising. In late last month, a Korean student residing in Britain for language training was the target of a pickpocket, losing his or her bag with passport, money and a few credit cards in it at the subway while traveling Paris.

The crime does not stop with taking money. Korean passports are traded at 2,000 US dollars at the stolen goods market, because they are very useful in forging Korean passports for refugees of Asian origin. In 1999, 300 cases in which Korean travelers lost their passports in France were reported. However, the number has been on the rise, and this year, more than 500 cases are expected. The Korean Consul in France, Ju Bok-ryong said, “Most of the victims are Korean women, because they are of little strength.’’ He also added that it would be almost impossible to get back what they were robbed of even though they report to the police, and therefore travelers should take precaution against unexpected crimes.

Jei-Gyoon Park phark@donga.com