Apprehended Chinese pair was trying to find work

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Apprehended Chinese pair was trying to find work

A Chinese couple who broke through security controls at Korea’s largest airport last week told local investigators that they made their way into the country illegally in order to find work, the Korea Immigration Service said on Tuesday.

Authorities believe the pair also had help from a broker, an illegal immigrant from China, and are searching for the possible culprit. The husband-and-wife team reportedly have a 5-year-old son currently living with his grandparents in China.

On Tuesday, an Incheon court issued a detention warrant for the suspects in accordance with a request submitted by the Korea Immigration Service, which stated that the couple had violated Korea’s Immigration Control Law on Jan. 21.

The court ruled that the two posed a flight risk, given that they don’t have a fixed residence in Korea.

The suspects, both 31, were arrested in Cheonan, South Chungcheong, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Seoul, on Monday afternoon at a public market. They were apprehended by officials from the Korea Immigration Service just hours after the airport announced that two Chinese nationals had fled the airport.

The airport’s announcement, however, was made four days after the pair went missing.

According to the airport, the suspects arrived at 7:31 p.m. on Jan. 20 from Honolulu and were scheduled to embark on a Beijing-bound flight the following day at 8:17 p.m.

They snuck out around 1:25 a.m. on Jan. 21 via the third passenger terminal near the tax-free zone after walking through at least one unlocked automatic door and forcing another locked door open with a screwdriver.

Customs authorities there had already left work. A nearby security guard was reported to have noticed the couple, but did not question their actions, believing they were inspecting the facilities for maintenance, according to the airport.

The Incheon International Airport said it discovered the couple had gone missing nearly 20 hours after they fled when they did not show up for their flight to Beijing on Thursday night.

The incident raised questions as to why the airport had not known earlier, especially in light of the fact that it controls the CCTV cameras installed within and around the premises.

The Korea Immigration Service was also chastised for launching its investigation two days after the incident.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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