Korea will start offering free legal consultation for foreigners facing difficulties finding bilingual legal experts, the Justice Ministry said Thursday.
The ministry said foreign nationals will be able to receive legal advice from government-appointed lawyers by phone or online from the second half of this year.
It is an extended version of the state-run “Maeul Byeonhosa” (Village Attorney) system that was implemented in June 2013 and provides free legal consultation for people living in areas with only a few legal experts.
“The original system focuses on aiding Koreans who had difficulty accessing legal services, but we’ve found that foreigners often have trouble communicating and have difficulty acquiring necessary information (on legal help),” said a ministry official.
As of January, there were 1.77 million foreigners living in Korea.
The ministry will first select five to 10 cities, provinces and districts with a high foreign population and allocate lawyers, before gradually extending the service.
Those seeking legal consultation can receive three-way translation services via the Immigration Contact Center by dialing 1345. Illegal immigrants can also receive services, according to the ministry.
Justice Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn praised the Village Attorney system as one of his most memorable accomplishments during his two-year tenure.
By Yoon Min-sik (firstname.lastname@example.org