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Far-right lawmaker candidate forcefully detains migrant workers

March 28, 2024 - 13:22 By Shin Ji-hye

Park Jin-jae (left), a candidate for the National Assembly from the Liberty Unification Party, has posted videos online where he and members of the Citizens' Protection Alliance detain people who appear to be migrant workers on the street in Daegu and demand their identification. (Park's YouTube and TikTok channels)

Police have initiated an investigation into a candidate for the National Assembly who has taken it upon himself to forcefully detain and inspect migrant workers, a local media outlet reported Wednesday.

Police in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, and Daegu received multiple complaints alleging that Park Jin-jae, a candidate for the Liberty Unification Party, has been accosting people who appear to be migrant workers, according to a report by the Kyunghyang Shinmun.

The Liberty Unification Party, a far-right political group, was formed around Jeon Kwang-hoon, the controversial head pastor of the Sarang Jeil Church.

Park, along with his civic group known as Citizens' Protection Alliance, has traveled across the nation to forcefully block the movement of undocumented migrant workers with the intention of turning them over to police.

In a video Park uploaded, he can be seen blocking migrant workers on bicycles, shouting “yah” at them. In Korean culture, the term “yah” is a rough equivalent to “hey” and is deemed a very rude way to address a stranger.

Park then demanded the workers' identification and forced them to sit on the sidewalk. Group members surrounded the workers, pressing on their necks and shoulders to prevent them from leaving.

In another video, they forced migrant works to lie on the ground, pressing down on their backs and saying, “If you are honest, we will forgive you. You don’t have a visa. We have already checked.” A worker responds, “I don’t have a visa.”

The group detained the workers until police arrived.

The group even engaged in a quarrel with police over a migrant worker driving a motorbike without a license. In the video, a police officer is seen saying, “Why are you detaining him? Do foreigners not have human rights? What authority do you have to detain him?”

Park defended his action, saying, “Anyone can arrest a criminal caught in the act and illegal aliens are criminals caught red-handed.”

However, criticism is mounting over the private and forceful arrests of unregistered immigrants, particularly on the basis of racial discrimination. Seo Chang-ho, an activist from Solidarity of Human Rights Activities, condemned the candidate’s illegal and violent methods and called on police to intervene.