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The Chinese Embassy’s “Abnormal Visa Issue”

Posted March. 01, 2004 23:03,   


Due to the handling methods of China, the personal profiles of defectors who are classified as secret domestically are being turned over to China.

At home, personal profiles are kept highly secret so that profile inquiries via the composite administrative information system are almost impossible and that only a few related institutions, such as the National Intelligence Service, are allowed to read the profiles.

Defector A, who applied for a China visa, said that “the employees at the Chinese embassy asked for detailed information such as my address in North Korea,” and also said that “it is a matter of time for the Chinese authorities to arrest me if I meet my family in China.” The defector A is seriously considering whether to give up going to China.

The travel industry said that since February, the Chinese are requesting a copy of the family register for those holding singular passports and are also making detailed investigations on those whose homes are recorded in North Korea about visiting purposes and their escape routes.

Director Choi of M travel agency said, “China is the only country that requires a copy of a family register for issuing visas, including travel visas,” adding that “for singular passport holders whose homes are in South Korea, they issue a visa without any further investigation.”

Currently, a singular passport, which is automatically disposed with after a single trip overseas, is issued to those who have been in the South for less than 5 years, rather than a general plural passport that allows the holder to freely make overseas trips.

Such a treatment process of the Chinese embassy is inhibiting defectors from going to China to meet their families left in China.

Organizations for supporting defectors imply that “when profiles of defectors are revealed, even the safety of their family members cannot be guaranteed.” According to the organizations, many defectors have actually been arrested after visiting China and, among them, some have even been sent back to North Korea.

Kim Sung-min, administrative director of the defector fellowship association, showed his high dissatisfaction, saying, “The government’s tolerance regarding such treatment by the Chinese embassy is not only a matter of not protecting defectors, but is also taken as cooperation with Chinese authorities.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said that “we are not aware that the Chinese embassy requests copies of the family register” and that “visa matters are issues that need to be handled by their respective countries.”

An official at the Chinese embassy in Korea refused to explain the process in issuing visas, saying, “We have no right to make any public announcements regarding the Chinese government’s visa issue.”

Jin-Kyun Kil leon@donga.com