Police to launch 5-month campaign
South Korea said Monday it will crack down on foreigner gang crimes, which are on the rise as the number of non-Korean nationals increase each year in this traditionally homogeneous country.
The National Police Agency said it will launch a five-month crackdown from Tuesday on foreign gangsters who are known to be expanding their influence in foreigner-populated areas such as Itaewon in Seoul.
Some 1.3 million foreigners are living in Korea, accounting for nearly 3 percent of the country’s population of 48 million. With the number of cross-cultural, ethnic marriages also increasing, experts say Korea can no longer be dubbed a “single-race nation.”
Along with more foreigners, the number of foreign nationals caught for crimes here has also been escalating each year.
According to the police agency’s press release last year, foreigners who were arrested for involvement in the five major crimes ― homicide, robbery, burglary, rape and physical assault ― rose by nearly 20 percent from two years before.
Grouped in accordance with their nationalities, foreign gangsters are becoming notorious for drug dealing, voice phishing, kidnapping and illegal money loaning activities, police said.
Some of them have joined hands with local gangsters to operate illegal casinos and brothels here, they added.
Asking for cooperation from dozens of foreigner-related institutes nationwide, police plan to forcibly banish foreign criminals who are considered likely to commit repeat crimes.
Gangs that become the subject of a police crackdown will be listed for ongoing observation, police said.
To cope with the increasing number of crimes, South Korea also established police units specializing in foreigner-related crimes and built a foreigner-only prison last year.
By Shin Hae-in (firstname.lastname@example.org)