Mission life: THE KUKMIN DAILY

Sojourn Granted Upon Refugee Application…Immigrants Seek Out Legal Gaps

2018-07-12 15:31

Believers from the Church of Almighty God, a Chinese pseudo-religious group, are showing the intent to settle down in Korea (Kukmin Daily, July 9, page 25) through the use of loopholes in the Refugee Act. This Act, which went into operation in July 2013 as Asia’s first refugee law, contains blind spots that invite misuse via applications for refugee status, and experts therefore are calling for its revision.

Six months after entering the country and submitting a refugee application, a foreigner can get a job and receive financial support for medical examinations. With the requisite qualifications, this applicant can receive 432,900 won in monthly support for living expenses. Moreover, it is possible to extend one’s stay in Korea indefinitely. All this is possible due to the lax Refugee Act. According to its Article 6, clause 6, “Until confirmation of the decision to recognize, or not recognize, status as a refugee (or, in cases of pending administrative judgment or administrative litigation related to non-recognition as a refugee, until those proceedings are concluded), the refugee applicant may continue sojourn in the Republic of Korea.”

That is, even when someone is judged not to be a refugee, if that person files a lawsuit, he or she may continue legal residence until the court proceedings finish. Nor is there any limit on the frequency or the duration of lawsuits. On top of this, after going through the whole legal process, if this person applies for refugee status all over again, the application is accepted.

Due to these blind spots, there has been an increase of cases where administrative litigation itself is used as an instrumentality for sojourn. In fact, refugee-related administrative lawsuits, numbering a mere 163 in 2013, have steadily increased, to 423 in 2014, 1,220 in 2015, and 3,161 in 2016.

Experts say that Church of Almighty God believers are cleverly abusing the Refugee Act. Jin Yong-shik, president of the Association of Korean Christian Cult Counseling Centers, said on July 9, “Members of the Church of Almighty God enter Korea through Jeju’s no-visa system, which allows them to stay 30 days…By using the expedient of repeated lawsuits to take exception (to non-recognition of their refugee status), they thus are guaranteed sojourn for a period of more than five years.” President Jin raised the question, “When this country already has various groups espousing end-times eschatology, how can Korean society take sides with an end-times eschatology group from China?”

Goh Yeong-il, director of the Freedom and Human Rights Research Center, pointed out, “The blind spots in the Refugee Act lie in its granting of legal status and guaranteed treatment even to persons without refugee qualifications…The result is an increase in fake refugees such as those of the Almighty God group.” He added, “After Germany, France, Italy and other countries accepted illegal refugees, they experienced all kinds of side effects…Korea should not follow Europe’s failed refugee policy.”

Asked to comment by phone, a source within the Church of Almighty God said, “We are not abusing the Refugee Act…You can find out the details by contacting the Justice Ministry, the Immigration Service or the Immigration Policy Division,” and abruptly ended the call. As of December 2017, the number of Chinese applicants undergoing screening for refugee status was 1,119, of whom the great majority were Church of Almighty God members.

*Photo: Two separate rallies were held in downtown Seoul on June 30. At the Sejong-ro crossroads, citizens rally against accepting of Yemeni refugees and urge for abolishment of the Refugee Act and free-visa entry (top); In front of Sejong-ro Police Substation, citizens rally in support of humanitarian acceptance of refugees. Photo courtesy of Newsis.

Reporter Paek Sang-hyun (100sh@kmib.co.kr), with Marion Kim (marionkkim@icloud.com)

Original Article in Korean:
[이슈분석] 난민신청만으로 체류 허용… 법 틈새 노려 입국 봇물: 中 사이비 종교 전능신교 신자들 왜 한국서 난민신청 급증했나

Related Article:
Chinese Heretical Group “Eastern Lightning” Targets Korea, Abuses Refugee Status

Related Article in Korean:
[현장] 마을에 터 잡은 中 이단 합숙소… 주민들은 초긴장: 충북 보은 전능신교 난민신청자 집단합숙소를 가다

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