3 Pakistanis became Korean through fraud

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3 Pakistanis became Korean through fraud

Three men from Pakistan have been arrested on allegations they acquired Korean citizenship through sham marriages, Seoul police said Tuesday.

The three Korean women involved in the scheme have been booked without physical detention.

Officers from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s international criminal investigation team said the case dates back to 1999, when a 51-year-old Pakistani identified as Lee arrived in Korea on a tourist visa and was illegally employed at a manufacturing plant in Geumcheon District, southwestern Seoul.

That’s where Lee met his coworker, a 47-year-old Korean woman surnamed Geum, who was struggling to raise her twin daughters after a divorce. Lee offered to pay Geum’s monthly rent in exchange for a fake marriage, and the two tied the knot in August 2001.

Lee gained Korean citizenship in August 2005 and divorced Geum seven months later.

After their 2006 divorce, Lee tried to persuade his ex-wife to marry his 38-year-old Pakistani friend so he could also get Korean citizenship. That plan was aborted when that friend got involved in immigration trouble and was deported.

Lee then shifted his focus to his 24-year-old son and 31-year-old nephew, who were in Seoul on a language program. The suspect offered Geum money for her twin 21-year-olds to marry his son and nephew so they could obtain citizenship.

To facilitate that process, Lee gave up his son for adoption and had his brother adopt him. The marriages proceeded.

The plot came to light when one of Geum’s twins called the police to file a complaint against her husband, Lee’s son, for sexual assault. Police officers said her decision to come clean was backed by Geum.

“Putting aside the fact that she needs money, I think Geum came to realize she could no longer put her daughter’s future at risk,” said a police officer, who asked for anonymity because the case is still ongoing.

The police will broaden their investigation to track down similar cases, the officer added.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, KIM NA-HAN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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