The controversy began when an influx of nearly 1,000 Muslim asylum seeker wannabes from Yemen arrived on the South Korean resort island of Jeju. They took advantage of a new visa waiver program that allowed people from 186 countries to visit the island without a tourist visa. But who paid for them to travel all the way from Yemen to South Korea when there are so many Muslim countries right in their neighborhood?
Infowars (h/t Maurice) Nearly 1000 Muslim foreign nationals, the majority from Yemen, arriving as tourists under a one month permit but then immediately claiming asylum, a process that can take years while they remain in the country.
“And local people here are worried,” said Hank Kim, owner of the Core Travel Agency. “We have all read about the problems that immigrants have caused in Europe — in Germany and France in particular — and we do not want that to happen here.”
Emphasizing that South Koreans do not think the Islamic religion is compatible with their culture, Kim added, “They all have big families and they bring their own culture instead of trying to adapt to the place where they live.”
Previous BNI post: Why are Muslims from Yemen going all the way to South Korea to seek asylum when they are in spitting distance of several oil-rich Arab Muslim Gulf States?
Korea Expose In response to the arrival of these Yemenis, more than half a million South Koreans have petitioned President Moon Jae-in to turn away all refugees, while around 700 attended a protest march in Seoul on Saturday.
Online platforms have become Muslim refugee-bashing grounds. The government scrambles to appease the public by announcing ever-stricter measures to keep refugees out.
South Korea has no justification for harboring anti-refugee sentiment given how few refugees it accepts. The Justice Ministry data shows that in 2016—the latest year for which the government website has data—7,542 applied for asylum, while just 98 cases ended in success.
Even when those who applied for asylum here before the end of 2017 are counted, the total number of Yemeni asylum seekers in South Korea doesn’t exceed 1,000, and most of them won’t be staying if the government stays true to its track record.
According to a study published by daily Hankook Ilbo on Jun. 30, people in their twenties and thirties expressed the highest levels of opposition to accommodating Yemeni refugees, at 70 and 66 percent respectively. (In comparison, 43 percent of those in their forties were opposed.)
The arrival of the Yemenis coincides with a worsening climate of hate. The powerful Evangelical lobby and its political allies spread Islamophobia by claiming that “we, too, might become a Muslim state.”
But it has been especially disheartening to see Yemeni refugees become targets of so much hatred—a combined product of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia that permeate this society—so quickly. Suddenly even some feminists got on board, urging people to sign the anti-refugee petition because accepting refugees, especially those from Muslim-majority countries, allegedly “endangers all South Korean women.”
Jeju is a visa-free zone for tourists from most countries. When pressed on the issue of Yemeni refugees, presidential spokesperson Kim Eui-kyeom told journalists on Jun. 20 that visa rules had been changed to stop more Yemeni refugees from entering Jeju.
The Justice Ministry will expedite processing, presumably to expel those who are here faster. On Jun. 29, a ruling Democratic Party lawmaker introduced an amendment to the Refugee Act so that some foreigners won’t be able to even ask for asylum.
Song Young-chae, a professor at the Center for Global Creation and Collaboration at Seoul’s Sangmyung University and one of the protest attendees, said South Koreans wanted to avoid to same “crisis” that has befallen European countries who opened their borders to mass Islamic immigration.