More than 140,000 crimes were committed by foreign nationals in Korea since 2009, police data showed Monday.
According to the National Police Agency data disclosed by Rep. Lee Cheol-woo of the ruling Saenuri Party, there were 140,766 offenses committed by foreign nationals in the country between 2009 and July 2014.
Offenses that occurred in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province each accounted for 32 percent of the total, while those in South Gyeongsang Province accounted for 5.6 percent.
The data also showed that there were 17 foreign nationals in Korea who are being sought for crimes in other countries. Of these, 14 are Chinese, with the rest from Uzbekistan, Vietnam and the United States.
Lee also disclosed National Intelligence Service data that showed that 5,574 foreign nationals had been taken into custody for offenses linked to international crime organizations.
Of these, immigration offenses were the most common, followed by drug-related offenses and financial crimes.
“There are limitations in responding to and preventing crimes (committed by foreign nationals) because the number of specialized police officers is far too small,” Lee said.
According to government data, the number of foreign nationals in Korea stood at nearly 1.57 million as of January. In comparison, less than 1,100 police officers specialize in cases involving foreign nationals.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org