The South Korean government and the ruling party on Wednesday agreed to increase next year’s budget for antiterror measures by 100 billion won ($85 million) and tighten immigration control in the wake of the Paris terror attacks last week.
At an emergency meeting, the two sides discussed ways to enhance the readiness for possible terror attacks, including measures to introduce five new armed speedboats, amid concerns growing fast for the nation’s public security. South Korea is an ally of the United States and also faces direct military threats from North Korea.
Nearly 30 billion won, the largest portion of the antiterrorism budget, will be allocated to hedge against North Korea’s chemical, biological and radiological threat, officials said.
Of the 30 billion won, 26 billion won will be spent on stocking up on vaccines in the event of a biological weapons emergency, and 2.5 billion won on securing equipment to better detect the existence of chemical weapons. Another 1 billion won will be used on preventive measures against radiological weapons, they said.
The officials also agreed to allocate 29.6 billion won for acquiring speedboats fully armed to combat possible terrorist attacks and 8 billion won to buy protective gear for the military and the police armed forces.
For foreign residents employed at embassies and foreign companies here, the officials will reinforce protection of their residential and office facilities. They will also provide safety guidelines for overseas Koreans.
They will conduct a survey will be conducted to gauge the changing trends of foreign communities here and update devices that identify forged passports. X-rays at airports will be upgraded to the latest models and new security devices for train stations and bus terminals across the country will be installed. Surveillance cameras monitoring security at major facilities will also be replaced with new ones, they added.
As part of measures to enhance immigration control, the government and the ruling party also agreed to require overseas Koreans who plan to stay abroad longer than 90 days to have their fingerprints scanned to eliminate potential risk factors, the officials said, without elaborating.
So far, overseas Koreans have been exempted from the fingerprinting procedures required for foreign nationals.
To implement the requirement on overseas Koreans, the government and the ruling party must revise the current immigration laws. Officials also plan to add a clause to have personal information of foreigners and overseas Koreans screened before air carriers issue their boarding tickets at airport counters.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)