By Park Si-soo
Americans with a record of committing sex crimes will be forbidden entry into Korea and other Southeast Asian countries, the Ministry of Justice said Thursday.
Washington forwarded a list of 21 sex offenders to Korea and other Asian nations in order to prevent their admittance to those countries.
The ministry said it had received the list of Americans convicted of sexually abusing children under 14 and placed on the national sex offender registry, from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
``We will prohibit the blacklisted Americans from entering Korea from today and the ban will be permanent,'' Park Young-joon, a prosecutor, told The Korea Times.
The people are among the 30,000 child sex offenders on the U.S. registry, according to the U.S. information forwarded to Korea.
``The 21 have been identified as possible child sex tourists to Asian countries and records indicate they have frequently visited Asian countries including Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea for sex with child prostitutes,'' the U.S. government said in the document.
It was confirmed that five of the blacklisted had visited Korea on tourist visas but at that time they had no criminal history.
Under the Immigration Law, the government can bar the entry of foreigners when they are considered a threat to social order that could disrupt the country's customs.
``We have frequently detected the arrival of native English speakers on tourist visas who illegally teach at language institutes. Some of them have even molested Korean children,'' Park said. ``It was not possible to sort out foreigners likely to commit sex crimes against children in Korea due to a lack of information. Thanks to the list, however, American sex offenders will be denied access to Korean kids,'' Park said.
The list will be updated regularly.
``The Korean government will also provide its list of Korean sex offenders to the United States upon request,'' Park said.
According to the National Police Agency, only 43 sex crimes committed by foreign nationals were reported in 2003, but that number jumped to 114 last year.