22 Burmese Citizens Granted Asylum in South Korea
Michael Song, Dec. 23, 2015, 7:15 a.m.
Twenty-two Burmese citizens who had been languishing in a refugee camp in Thailand arrive in Korea Wednesday after being granted asylum. It is the first instance of foreigners being given refugee status while living in a third country. So far the government has granted asylum only to foreigners who apply when they arrive here.
The 22 are members of the Karen tribe who had been living in a Thai refugee camp since fleeing persecution by the military junta of Burma from 1990 to 2000. The Justice Ministry granted them refugee status at the recommendation of the UNHCR.
The ministry in April decided to grant refugee status to up to 30 people a year after screening them at refugee camps abroad. Kim Young-joon of the Korea Immigration Service said, "We decided to accept refugees in order to bolster our national image and play our part in the international community." The refugees will be put up in a government facility for six months to a year where they will learn Korean and be taught about Korean laws and culture.