중앙데일리

Passport restrictions ‘don’t target missionaries’

Nov 25,2009
Korean travelers would be restricted from entering the same country from which they have been expelled for violating local statutes if a law proposed yesterday by the Foreign Ministry is approved.

The ministry said it has drafted a new clause to the current passport law to impose the restriction. Under the clause, a Korean traveler who has violated a local law in a foreign country and who is considered likely to re-enter the country to cause further trouble would not be allowed to travel there for one to three years. Violators could be sentenced to up to a year in jail or fined a maximum 3 million won ($2,600).

An official at the ministry, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said about 80 Koreans were expelled from Middle Eastern countries from July to October for violating local laws, including missionary work. But he said the new measure isn’t specifically targeting missionaries, since there are Koreans who are forced to leave foreign countries for other violations, such as fraud and organized crime.

The ministry has been consulting with related agencies, such as the Justice Ministry and the National Intelligence Service. Last March, four Korean tourists were killed in a bombing attack in Yemen. Then in June, another Korean was kidnapped and was later found dead in Yemen.

In 2007, 23 Korean missionaries were held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan and two were killed.

The ministry official said the new measure would “minimize the infringement of basic rights” for the people who travel since it would only restrict trips to the nation in question.

He said the government would exercise its own discretion in determining who is likely to re-enter a country to violate more laws, putting other Koreans in danger.

“It’s rather subjective,” the official said. “But we tried to make sure we protect people’s basic individual rights as much as we could, and the penalty is not that severe.”


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]





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