[EDITORIALS]Stop This Human Smuggling

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[EDITORIALS]Stop This Human Smuggling

It is shocking that a large group of illegal immigrants from China were smuggled into Korea through a port on the west coast, where maritime security has been strengthened in the wake of several intrusions by North Korea commercial ships. What is more absurd is that the authorities did not even have a clue until 108 North Koreans and ethnic Koreans from China moved to an apartment in Dangjin, South Chungchong province, before dispersing to their destinations. These movements were all within 24 hours of landing at Gojeong port in Boryeong city, South Chungchong province.

Organized smugglers took them from a Chinese vessel in international waters Thursday night and put them aboard a Korean ship, the Gwangjin, before landing them at the port at around 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Then they moved them to an apartment by bus and dispersed them to various parts of the country, including Seoul, after receiving their commissions. Authorities did not get wind of the plot until a North Korean was arrested after a local resident tipped them off. The North Korean was hurt while running away from the smugglers because he had no money to pay them.

The military saw the Gwangjin on radar but failed to take any action, while the coast guard said that it did not carry out an inspection of the vessel because they were "familiar" with it.

It was not long ago that the navy failed to detect a North Korean ship until it intruded into our territorial waters. We cannot help but think that there must be a big disciplinary problem in the military and the police. What if the intruders had been armed North Korean spies or infiltrators? The military and the police must find out why such problems recur and fix them.

They must also take measures to root out organized smugglers in Korea and China by reopening investigations of earlier cases. Last year, 3,154 illegal immigrants were caught in 33 incidents, while this year 626 persons were arrested in 11 incidents. Human smugglers adopt highly sophisticated methods to cross the borders of Korea and China, and the authorities must penetrate these organizations as well as strengthening cooperation with China.

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