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Jung Woo-sung attacked for supporting Jeju’s Yemeni refugees

Actor Jung Woo-sung has been criticized by some for showing support for Yemeni refugees on Jeju Island, with Koreans divided over whether or not to grant them official refugee status.

Around 500 Yemeni refugees are now on Jeju Island after fleeing from the war in Yemen, with most of them having applied for refugee status. While many Koreans have called for the government to accept them on humanitarian grounds, others demanded for refugees’ expulsion.

Jung as an honory ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency, commented on the issue through his social media account last Thursday, asking for people to show support for the refugees.

Some, however, including a widely-known controversial cartoonist, criticized the actor’s stance, saying “He wouldn’t be the person living with the refugees.” 

Jung Woo-sung (Cosmopolitan)
Jung Woo-sung (Cosmopolitan)

Meanwhile, Jung is to attend “Jeju Forum for Peace & Prosperity” from Tuesday to Thursday. The forum hadn’t been planned for the refugee issue, but the actor is likely to comment on it.

Whether or not to accept the Yemeni refugees into the country has been a highly-contentious issue here.

Some raised issues over possible repercussions that a large influx of mostly-male foreigners from a different cultural background may have on the Korean society, and even concern over Islamic fundamentalists entering the country as “fake refugees” have been mentioned.

As of Monday, an online petition requesting Cheong Wa Dae not to grant them refugee status has garnered over 200,000 signatures, which mandates an official response from the presidential office.