75 Indian 'Holy Men' Vanish into Crowd

      September 29, 2014 13:28

      Some 75 Indians who entered Korea on tourist visas two months ago have disappeared from the radar. The Justice Ministry officials said the men entered Korea in July to attend a religious leaders' meeting, but have not left the country even though their visas have long expired. Five have been accounted for so far.

      They came to Korea from Chennai in July with invitations to attend the meeting and carrying documents identifying them as Christian religious figures. In fact they were Hindu farmers.

      But they failed to show up at the event in Busan and their whereabouts remain a mystery. They were invited by the Christian organization International Youth Fellowship, which informed immigration after their no-show.

      Five were caught working illegally in a factory near Busan.

      They told investigators they earned only about W100,000 (US$1=W1,045) a month in India and paid a broker W7 million for forged papers to go to Korea.

      An immigration official said organizers of international events needed to conduct better background checks on participants from overseas.

      The incident has exposed a major problem in Korea's visa issuance. In 2011, 10 Nepalese citizens entered Korea carrying invitation letters to the same religious event and disappeared. Five were nabbed, but the others remain at large.

      Illegal aliens cannot be prosecuted unless it can be proved that their actions were deliberate. Organizations that invited them are not obligated to report their status to immigration if they do not show up.

      At present, 21 immigration agents are handling around 45,041 illegal aliens whose whereabouts remain unclear. An immigration official said, "Visitor visas are being widely abused."

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