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Police to crack down on crimes by foreign nationals

No. of foreign national criminals rose from 9,053 in 2021, to 9,717 in 2022, to 9,882 in 2023

March 31, 2024 - 17:32 By Lee Jung-joo
(The Korea Herald DB)

The Korean National Police Agency will crack down on the main crimes committed by foreign nationals from Monday until June 30, the agency said Sunday.

According to the police agency, the main crimes include fraud, gambling, drug-related crimes and crimes involving foreign national workers based at construction sites.

In addition, according to the agency's statistics, the number of criminals that are of foreign nationality that have committed what are deemed the four major crimes here -- murder, robbery, theft and violence -- has increased since 2022.

In 2019, 12,704 foreign national criminals were apprehended for committing one of the four crimes, which decreased to 9,053 in 2021. However, these numbers began to increase again in 2022 with 9,717 criminals and added up to 9,882 in 2023.

The number of drug-related crimes committed by foreign nationals also increased for the fifth consecutive year, with 1,092 in 2019 to 2,187 in 2023. Foreign nationals gambling and committing other criminal offenses affecting public morals also saw an increase from 359 in 2021 to 625 in 2023. Adding to that, crimes such as investment scams and gambling sites being run by foreign nationals have become an increasing problem, according to the police agency.

Amid Korea's rapidly aging and shrinking population, there has been a recent influx of foreign nationals coming to South Korea to work as construction workers. According to the police, there are concerns of such construction workers being involved in illegal activities such as organized group violence or being victimized by it. On July 1, a Vietnamese worker was assaulted by four Korean teenagers on a road in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province in an attempt to rob him.

When those who are undocumented become victims of a crime, the police also stated that they will utilize a system exempting them from notifying the Ministry of Justice to protect the victims and to encourage undocumented residents to report crimes without fear of deportation.

Additionally, to proactively respond to crimes committed by foreign nationals from the earliest stages, police officials plan to form a joint investigation team between the National Police Agency and the metropolitan police agencies. The police will also thoroughly identify criminal organizations operating overseas through international cooperation with Interpol.

Meanwhile, according to data presented by the Ministry of Justice and the Korean National Police Agency this January, around 2.5 million foreign nationals were found to reside in South Korea, an 11.7 percent increase from the year before. Out of the 2.5 million, 423,675 were undocumented residents and 32,744 were detained on suspicion of having committed crimes.