Exodus: Surge in Russian Asylum Seekers Floods South Korea

Russia | February 26, 2024, Monday // 09:51|  views

The influx of Russian asylum seekers into South Korea has skyrocketed, with authorities reporting an unprecedented surge in applications last year, according to CNN.

The Korean Immigration Service revealed a staggering fivefold increase in Russian nationals seeking asylum in South Korea in 2023, totaling 5,750 applicants, a stark rise from the 1,038 applicants recorded in 2022.

This surge has propelled Russian asylum seekers to become the largest group seeking refuge in South Korea, surpassing the cumulative asylum applications from Russians between 1994 and 2019.

CNN reports that 2023 also witnessed the highest number of overall asylum applications in the past eight years, as disclosed by the Immigration Service.

Following Russians, the largest groups of asylum seekers originate from Kazakhstan, China, and Malaysia. This trend persisted into the current year, with Russians constituting the largest group seeking asylum in January.

Reasons cited by asylum seekers predominantly include persecution based on religion and political beliefs, alongside discrimination based on social group, race, or nationality.

Despite South Korea's stringent immigration laws, including asylum requests, only a fraction of applicants have been recognized as refugees over the past three decades. Out of over 103,000 asylum applications, merely 4,052 individuals have been granted refugee status, according to the report.

The spotlight on Russian nationals seeking asylum intensified following the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine, prompting hundreds of thousands to flee Russia to evade military conscription.

In a poignant incident in 2022, five Russian men found themselves stranded at Incheon International Airport near Seoul, attempting to evade Moscow's military mobilization order for the war.

Despite their plight, the South Korean Justice Ministry rejected their refugee status applications, leaving them in limbo at the airport.

Similar stories have been reported elsewhere; data from United States border authorities showed the number of Russian citizens they encountered surged after Moscow imposed the military draft in September 2022.

From October 2022 to February 2023, nearly 22,000 Russians tried to enter the US through the country's southern border, according to data from US Customs and Border Protection.

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Tags: Russian, asylum seekers, South Korea, surge


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