2 crewmen flee port to enter Korea

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2 crewmen flee port to enter Korea

Authorities announced Tuesday that two men, a Chinese and a Vietnamese crew member at Incheon Port, had tried to illegally enter the country in January.

The breaches come in the same month when a Chinese couple and a Vietnamese man sneaked their way past immigration in two separate incidents to flee Incheon International Airport and enter Korea illegally.

The two crewmen are still at large.

A third crewman, a 25-year-old Chinese national, was caught on site on Jan. 6 as he tried to jump a wire fence at Incheon Inner Port.

This brings the total number of known security breaches in Incheon in January alone to five.

According to Incheon Port Security, a 33-year-old Vietnamese crewman cut through a wire fence around midnight on Jan. 6 at the Hyundai Steel docks in Incheon North Port. He is suspected to have fled the port while a freighter that had entered the port on Jan. 4 was loading and unloading cargo.

He fled with his passport and is known to have texted a coworker three hours after he left the port to say that he was “going to Seoul.”

A 36-year-old Chinese crewman is also suspected to have jumped the fence from the Dongkuk Steel docks in Incheon North Port at around 4 a.m. on Jan. 17. He allegedly walked across the waterway when the tide was low and jumped the fence.

The Chinese crewman had been working on a trial period since December. The freighter on which he arrived entered the port on Jan. 16.

All three crewmen have a history of illegal stays in Korea and are suspected to have attempted to illegally enter the country because they could not gain shore-leave approval.

Security guards were present when the Chinese crewman left the freighter and witnessed his escape via CCTV camera footage. However, they were unable to reach him in time.

Security for the Hyundai Steel and Dongkuk Steel docks is managed by Incheon Port Security, which operates under the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.

The Hyundai Steel docks, which measure 69,930 square meters (752,720 square feet), and the Dongkuk Steel docks, which measure 29,007 square meters, are managed by 13 and seven security guards, respectively. Only 17 CCTV cameras monitor the Hyundai Steel docks, and 12 watch over the Dongkuk Steel docks.

The Vietnamese crewman is suspected to have determined the cameras’ blind spots and cut the wire fence to flee.

The security guards could not track down the Chinese crewman once he disappeared from the cameras’ view.

The 2.7-meter (8-foot-10) wire fence that the two smugglers managed to break through or jump over was also not equipped with a movement sensor.

The movements of the freighters at company docks are limited, making it easier for crewmen to figure out their surroundings than at general trading docks.

“Incheon Port Security has taken disciplinary action against the security guards responsible for the getaways,” an official for the security agency said.

“While the security breaches at the port preceded those at the airport, the companies and other stakeholders have all tried to keep things quiet,” a port official said.

Incheon Immigration Office, which operates under the Ministry of Justice, has been having difficulty locating the two crewmen.

“There is not enough available information, including CCTV footage, to track down the smugglers,” said an official from the immigration office.

Footage from CCTV cameras, mobile phones and the black boxes in taxis were crucial in tracking down the three people who fled Incheon International Airport last month.

The immigration office plans to focus their investigation on regions with concentrated Chinese and Vietnamese populations.

“The Incheon Immigration Office is in charge of the investigation but not responsible for the breaches,” a Justice Ministry official said.

BY CHOI MO-RAN, JANG HYUK-JIN [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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