By Lee Tae-hoon
The government Tuesday proposed a draft bill aimed at banning Koreans deported from a foreign country for violating local laws from re-entering that country.
The measure comes amid mounting complaints from Muslim countries against Korean missionaries.
About 80 missionaries have been expelled from the Middle East in the past three months, a government official said.
Among deportees, those who pose a great threat to other Koreans or are deemed harmful to national interests will be prohibited from re-entering the country that they have been evicted from for a minimum of one year. The maximum ban will be three years.
"More than 20,000 Korean missionaries are working abroad," a foreign ministry official said on condition of anonymity. "Many short-term missionaries are not fully aware that their aggressive work can be seen as a serious offense in Arabic countries and may increase the possibility that Koreans become the target of terrorist attacks there."
Experts here say that the latest terrorist attacks in Muslim countries are closely related to Korea's missionary efforts.
In Yemen, four Korean tourists were killed in a terrorist bombing in March and a female volunteer, Eom Young-sun, was found dead last June.
Korea also had to pull medics and engineers out of Afghanistan in 2007, after the Taliban kidnapped 23 missionaries, killing two of them.
The government is mulling over dispatching hundreds of troops to Afghanistan to help reconstruction efforts in the war-torn country.
Those violating the new measure by taking advantage of loose immigration controls in other countries will be imprisoned for up to one year, or fined up to 3 million won.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade plans to hear public opinions on the bill until Dec. 13 before submitting it to the National Assembly for approval.