By Kang Shin-who
Korea denied entry to the country to Thai nationals the most last year. Of 86,358 Thais who sought to come to Korea last year, 6,767 were refused entry, according to the Korea Immigration Service.
Following Thais were Chinese with 3,481, Mongolians, 1,667 and Bangladeshis, 834.
Immigration officials said that most of the entries were refused due to concerns about illegal residency.
By ratio of entry rejection, Bangladesh topped the list with 18 percent, followed by Thailand with 6.7 percent; Mongolia, 4.1 percent; and India, 1.7 percent.
The cumulative number of foreigners who are staying illegally here reached 174,150 as of Dec. 31, 2007 with Chinese nationals accounting for almost 60 percent of them.
Immigration officials said visa-free countries including Thailand, Bangladesh and Mongolia showed high percentages of entry refusals.
``One in 10 Thais is illegally staying in Korea. Many Thais outstay their visa after saying their visits were for traveling,’’ said Kim Young-geun of Korea Immigration Service. ``We reject them if they don’t have a specific purpose for their visit.’’
In response, Pornpong Kanittanon, Minister-Counsellor at the Thai Embassy in Seoul, said: ``I don’t know why Thais are the most rejected here. But the Korean immigration office has the right to allow or deny entry.’’
A total of 1,812 foreign nationals were caught working full-time with student visas, a rise from 1,085 the previous year. It is illegal for foreign nationals holding a D-2 or ``Study Visa’’ to get full-time employment.
By nationality, Chinese students were the biggest group violating immigration laws with 1,052. Ethnic Korean Chinese came next with 336 and Vietnamese with 80. Seventy-eight Mongolian students and 55 U.S. students were also caught.
Those caught were either fined or deported, depending on the severity of the violation.
Meanwhile, a total of 717 foreigners applied for refugee status here. Among them, 13 were granted this and 111 rejected, last year.
About 1,200 refugee applicants are waiting for a decision from the Korean government as of Jan.21, 2008. Since Korea joined an international convention relating to the status of refugees in 1992, 66 have been granted refuge while 336 have been rejected.