South Korea reports notable increase in number of Russians seeking asylum

(MENAFN) South Korean authorities report a notable increase in the number of Russians seeking asylum in the country, with applications skyrocketing fivefold last year, marking Russians as the largest group seeking refuge in South Korea.

According to a report released by the Korean Immigration Service earlier this month, a total of 5,750 Russian nationals sought asylum in South Korea in 2023. This figure is significantly higher than the 1,038 applications recorded in 2022 and surpasses the total number of asylum applications from Russians documented between 1994 and 2019.

The surge in asylum applications from Russians contributed to the highest overall number of asylum seekers in at least the past eight years, as noted by the Immigration Service. Following Russians, the largest groups of asylum seekers originated from Kazakhstan, China, along with Malaysia. This trend has persisted into the current year, with Russians remaining the largest group seeking asylum in January.

Among the most common reasons cited by asylum seekers were persecution based on religion, followed by political persecution, discrimination based on membership in specific social groups, race, or nationality. However, the specific reasons given by Russian asylum seekers were not specified by the service.

South Korea's immigration laws are known for their strictness, including procedures for asylum requests. Over the past three decades, out of more than 103,000 asylum applications, only 4,052 individuals have been recognized as refugees in South Korea, according to the report.

The increased number of Russian nationals seeking asylum globally has garnered attention since the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine, leading to hundreds of thousands leaving Russia over the past two years, many fleeing military conscription.

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


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