113 Korean students stranded in Philippines

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113 Korean students stranded in Philippines

More than 100 Korean children studying English in the Philippines had their passports confiscated by Philippine authorities earlier this month, and 70 of them are facing deportation, local media and Korean sources said yesterday.

The Philippine Inquirer and ABS-CBN, a broadcaster, reported that the country’s Bureau of Immigration would expel 70 Korean minors studying in the country without permits and put them on its blacklist, meaning they will have difficulty getting back into the country in the future. Seven Korean adults allegedly responsible for arranging a study course in the Philippines will receive the same penalty, they reported.

Reports said the 77 Koreans facing deportation were rounded up by immigration officials on Jan. 7, storming a Korean-operated language center in Batangas, south of Manila.

The Philippine Embassy in Seoul confirmed the report. “The children did not have special study permits, which they should have applied for, to study in the Philippines,” said an embassy official.

The sources said 43 more Korean children studying at another language center in the Philippines, along with seven Korean managers, were rounded up later by immigration and also had their passports confiscated.

According to Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the 113 Korean students remain at residences affiliated with the centers, but the 14 Korean adults are being detained at an immigration office in the Philippines.

A ministry official said the Korean language centers are to blame, not the students. The language centers were supposed to pay about 150,000 won ($134) per student to apply for special study permits for the children, but they didn’t, he said.

“Because the Korean students are also the victims, the Korean Embassy requested authorities to return the passports soon and allow the students to leave the country,” Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said Philippine authorities said they would allow students to leave by the end of the month. Observers said more crackdowns on English teaching classes in the Philippines are likely. Many Korean parents send their children to the Philippines as a cheap way of studying English.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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