Foreigners entering Korea will face more stringent background checks under a new government measure intended to weed out terrorists and drug smugglers.
The Ministry of Justice announced on Monday it will begin collecting fingerprints and facial images of foreigners entering the country through 22 airports and ports from Wednesday.
Authorities will screen for travelers who have a similar profile as global terrorists, carry stolen or suspicious passports, or have an unusual travel itinerary.
The collected data will be compared against a Justice Ministry database containing fingerprints of 230,000 foreigners with criminal records. Those with criminal histories or on an Interpol criminal watch list will be deported.
From the second half of next year the fingerprint screening will be expanded to all foreigners entering the country, with the exception of diplomats. Fingerprinting for all foreigners is already mandatory in the U.S. and Japan, and most of the 32 OECD member states are taking similar measures.
The justice ministry said it decided to implement the program earlier than it originally planned in order to step up security ahead of the G20 Summit in Seoul in November.