New office to up safety of Koreans living abroad

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New office to up safety of Koreans living abroad

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday that it will establish a bureau to oversee the safety of overseas citizens through a legislative revision, part of its move to bolster protection of Korean nationals abroad.

According to the ministry, the new office will have 10 officials, comprised of six Foreign Ministry officials and four others from related government branches.

The ministry said that there is an increased need for the police, naval officials and overseas military forces to cooperate; therefore, the office will include officials from the Ministry of National Defense and the newly established Ministry of Public Safety and Security.

The new office was made possible through the passage last month of three bills created in response to the April 16 Sewol ferry disaster that killed over 300 people, one of which called for the government to be able to respond more efficiently to similar crises.

A government reorganization bill was responsible for the creation of the Ministry of Public Safety and Security and the Ministry of Personnel Management, consolidating and reshuffling previous agencies in order to facilitate better governmental response to disasters.

“The bureau was created to reinforce protection and support of overseas Koreans as more people traveled and stayed overseas for longer periods of time. There was a demand for policies to ensure the safety of these people,” a Foreign Ministry official said.

The Foreign Ministry already has a bureau for Koreans overseas and consular affairs but has faced limitations in reaching out to all of its embassies and consulates across the globe. It has repeatedly called for a need to bolster its ability to do so, especially in times of emergency.

The ministry said that the new bureau will be established through a revision of legislation on the regulation and organization of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The new bureau could be up and running as early as the end of the month after it undergoes legislative screening and receives approval from the Cabinet. 

BY SARAH KIM [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]



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