Asylum applicants in Korea more than doubled in 2011: UN report
The number of foreigners who sought asylum claims in Korea more than doubled last year, compared with the previous year, but Seoul was still reluctant to grant them refugee status, the United Nations' refugee agency said Monday.
South Korea received a total of 1,010 asylum applications last year, up 135 percent from 430 claims in 2010, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in an annual report.
An asylum-seeker is an individual who has sought international protection and whose claim for refugee status has not been determined yet.
In 1992, South Korea signed onto the U.N. Convention and Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, which requires the country of asylum to determine whether an asylum-seeker is a refugee or not to protect them on its territory.
Since then, about 3,900 foreigners have applied for refugee status, but only 401 were granted asylum by the end of last year, according to the report.
In a Korean-language statement, the U.N. refugee agency said the number of foreigners granted asylum in South Korea was "far from sufficient."
Last year, Pakistan was the main country of origin of asylum-seekers in Korea with 129 Pakistani nationals lodging asylum claims here, the U.N. report showed.
It was followed by Kyrgyzstan with 77, Bangladesh with 41 and Myanmar with 34.
In 2010, South Korea granted citizenship to a 38-year-old Ethiopian man who arrived in South Korea in 2001 after fleeing political persecution in his homeland for anti-government activities, marking the first time an international refugee living in the country was naturalized. (Yonhap)