Need for tighter airport security

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Need for tighter airport security

Security at Incheon International Airport has emerged as a serious problem. A Vietnamese man slipped through airport checkpoints on Friday and remains missing just weeks after two Chinese travelers sneaked into the country the same way, and suspected explosives were found in the airport’s men’s room.

According to the airport, a 25-year-old Vietnamese man who arrived at the airport on Friday from Hanoi did not board his connecting flight bound for Narita, Japan. CCTV footage showed him forcing open an unmanned checkpoint gate, and he fled without being caught even as alarm bells rang.

The immigration office was aware of his disappearance only after the airline reported that he had not boarded the connecting flight. Police discovered that the same man had been turned away after he attempted to enter the country without a visa three weeks earlier.

Considering his success on the second attempt, he must have studied the loopholes in the airport - the lack of security guards and the shift schedule - during his first failed effort. Immigration officials should have kept a special lookout for a person with the same name on the transit list.

In a similar incident a week ago, a Chinese couple bypassed airport security and fled. They were caught three days later in Cheonan, South Chungcheong, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) south of Seoul.

On Friday, the airport was on alert after it was advised that explosives had been placed in a men’s bathroom. The incident turned out to be a hoax.

These recent cases point to a serious lack of security at the country’s gateway and raise concerns amid rising terrorism threats around the world.

The breaches will continue unless the security, law enforcement, state affairs and airport authorities join together to strengthen airport security. The country prides itself in having one of the best airports in the world, but it turns out to be seriously understaffed and is lacking adequately trained security personnel.

The Board of Audit and Inspection must investigate the security system if necessary.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 1, Page 30

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