South Korea’s current policy of offering visa-free entry for Egyptians will likely be scrapped starting as early as October this year. Facing a dramatic increase in the number of Egyptians flowing into Korea for asylum application and illegal stay, South Korea’s Ministry of Justice decided to introduce a new policy requiring Egyptians to get a “pre-visa” to enter the country.
“This year, around half of the refugee applicants were Egyptians. If this trend continues, things will get out of control, so we’ve decided to change the current policy,” explained a government official of South Korea. Pundits analyzed that having gone through the Yemenite refugees' crisis in Jeju Island, the justice ministry has taken a such measure to preempt similar issues involving refugees.
According to the Ministry of Justice, between January and May, 276 people have filed asylum applications in South Korea, and 112 out of them (40.6%) were Egyptians. Many of them were men in their 20s and 30s, and most had no previous experience of visiting foreign countries. Between the year of 1994, when the South Korean government began to receive refugee applications, and 2017, as many as 3,244 Egyptians filed refugee applications in South Korea, a figure outnumbered only by Pakistanis (4,268) and Chinese (3,639).
“Many of them claim to have been forced to undergo criminal trials for their anti-government activities as part of the Muslim Brotherhood, but most of the documents they present are fabricated,” said an official from the Immigration & Naturalization Service at Incheon International Airport. “Verifying all the documents is costly in terms of human resources and money.”
The government expects that there would be little backlash from the Egyptian government, given the fact that South Korea is not the only country with a pre-visa requirement policy. However, there is a possibility where the Egyptian government will change the current arrival visa policy and instead implement a pre-visa requirement for South Korean visitors, citing the principle of reciprocity.
Dong-Il Seo firstname.lastname@example.org