Foreign travelers to be fingerprintedKorea will install a fingerprint authentication system in major airports and seaports with the aim of keeping dangerous foreigners from entering the country, the Justice Ministry said yesterday.
The announcement comes as Seoul continues its preparations for the G-20 Summit.
“For a safe G-20 Summit, foreigners who are suspected to have criminal backgrounds will need to go through fingerprint identification,” said an official at the Justice Ministry.
The news also comes as the nation is on full alert over foreigner identification following reports last week that two Pakistani men suspected of being members of the Taliban snuck past the port authority in Gunsan, North Jeolla.
The Justice Ministry has submitted a bill to the National Assembly that will make it mandatory for all foreign adults coming into Korea to register their fingerprints with the government.
Similar procedures are in place in the United States, Britain and Japan, and one is under consideration in several other countries.
However, the ministry does not need the Assembly’s approval to install a fingerprint identification system, which links to a National Police Agency database that keeps records on foreigners who have committed crimes in or been deported from Korea.
The ministry is in the process of securing funds to install the identification system at major airports and seaports nationwide, which it estimates will cost around 2.5 billion won ($2.2 million).
Officials said that the new system will make it easier to identify false passports.
If the system identifies a foreigner with a dangerous criminal past, he or she will be handed over to the police for further investigation.
The ministry said that the fingerprint authentication system must be installed at key places, including Incheon International Airport, by August in order to have it fully operational by the G-20 Summit in November.
By Cho Jae-eun [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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