Counterterrorism policy to require flight passenger lists

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Counterterrorism policy to require flight passenger lists

The government decided Wednesday to require all airlines with flights bound to Korea, starting in April, to submit passenger lists to block anyone who poses a terror threat from entering the country.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, the acting president, presided over the third counterterrorism committee meeting on Wednesday, which drew up the 2017 plan to prevent terrorism in Korea, including by requiring all 85 airlines to submit passenger lists to screen potential terrorists from entering the country, especially ahead of international sports events in Korea.

The airlines will be required to send passenger lists to the Ministry of Justice, and the government will cross check it with a list of flagged security risks acquired from Interpol and the United Nations.

“There is the U-20 World Cup this year and the PyeongChang Olympics next year,” said an official of the Prime Minister’s Office, “and to protect our people, we need to bolster an omnidirectional counterterrorism posture.”

The FIFA U-20 World Cup is scheduled to be held from May 20 to June 11, while the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games kicks off on Feb. 9 of next year.

The official added, “From February 2015, we conducted a test run on Asiana Airlines’ flights departing from Nagoya in Japan, and last year, we expanded this to 35 airlines.”

The government last year successfully blocked 1,229 people from entering the country and potentially committing acts of terror, he added, and decided to expand this measure to all airlines.

“This regulation of confirming passengers beforehand and blocking passengers who pose a terror threat from boarding the plane has the effect of blocking the possibility of terrorist acts ahead of time,” added the official.

“Last year, terrorist acts happened daily all of over the world,” Hwang said during the meeting, “but we did not have any casualties, and there was no case of terrorism domestically, which was a relief. But seeing the terrorism situation overseas, we cannot let our guard down.”

He emphasized the need to preempt terrorist acts, protect Koreans living overseas as well as tourists and enable agents to respond to terrorism situations immediately.

“Our citizens can also fall victim to terrorism at any time,” said Hwang, “especially since North Korea has made repeated provocations.”

BY JEONG YONG-SOO, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]

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