Criminals caught re-entering Korea

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Criminals caught re-entering Korea

The Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday that dozens of ethnic Koreans from China who had been deported for crimes in Korea, including attempted murder, drug smuggling and rape, have been able to re-enter the country with fake identification.

The prosecution said 11 ethnic-Korean workers were taken into custody while 15 others would be questioned without detention on charges of using fake IDs to re-enter Korea.

Four more were placed on the wanted list for the same charges.

The suspects relied on fake identities for their re-entry into the country as they all had histories of being deported to China for committing crimes or illegally residing in the country, the prosecution said.

Investigators used a face recognition system to track down those living under fake identities.

Using the system, authorities tested the authenticity of 94,425 registered Chinese workers’ identities and found 130 cases of fraud.

The prosecutors said they compared faces analyzed by the detection system with deportation records, which have photos of those forced to return to their homeland, and found suspects who had different names but the same face.

One of the arrested, a Korean-Chinese woman identified only as Lee, 63, was deported in 2003 for confining and physically assaulting her husband.

After being sent back to China, she bought a fake passport through a broker and managed to return in 2007.

She has been working as a babysitter in southern Seoul since her re-entry five years ago, according to prosecutors.

Another migrant worker surnamed Kim was deported for raping a bar waitress in 2003 but found his way back to Korea using a fake passport.

Kim even won Korean citizenship after his re-entry.

Another case involves a former drug dealer surnamed Lee, who was deported to China after being caught dealing methamphetamine last year.

Lee came back to Korea with a fake name and date of birth and was in the process of obtaining an alien registration card before being arrested.

The prosecution said the suspects paid 4 million ($3,452) to 5 million won to a broker in China to obtain their fake IDs.

The process also became easier as Korea scrapped its fingerprinting requirement for foreigners in 2003.

The prosecution said the number of foreigners who entered Korea with fake IDs will be more than 1,000 when the investigation is expanded to all foreign residents in Korea.

As of last month, some 1.39 million foreigners reside in the country.

By Kang Jin-kyu, Jeong Won-yeob[jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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