The number of foreign criminals in South Korea has exceeded the 140,000 mark over the past six years amid a lack of specialized police officers, a lawmaker said Monday.
A total of 140,766 foreigners committed crimes in South Korea between 2009 and July 2014, Rep. Lee Cheol-woo of the ruling Saenuri Party said, citing a report from the National Police Agency.
By region, 32 percent of the crimes committed by foreign nationals occurred in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi Province in the cited period. The Gyeongsang region in the southeastern part of the country and the western port city of Incheon were a distant second and third with 5.6 percent and 5 percent, respectively.
According to Lee, 17 foreigners living in South Korea, including 14 Chinese, had criminal records in other countries.
In addition, more than 5,500 foreigners were apprehended between 2009 and June 2014 for drug trafficking, smuggling and illegal entry, Lee said, citing separate data submitted by the National Intelligence Service.
The lawmaker attributed the high number of foreign criminals to a lack of specialized police staff.
"A severe dearth of foreign-affairs police officers makes it difficult to prevent and respond to crimes committed by foreigners," said Lee, who sits on the National Assembly's security and intelligence committee.
As of January, more than 1.56 million foreigners lived in South Korea, but only 1,093 police officers were tasked with dealing with crimes committed by foreigners, according to Lee. (Yonhap)