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South Korea: Refugee Resettlement Program

(Jan. 4, 2016) The first refugees to be handled under South Korea’s new resettlement program arrived in Korea on December 23, 2015. South Korea’s Refugee Act became effective in July 2013. (The Refugee Act, Act No. 11298 of 2012 (Feb. 10, 2012) REFWORLD.) The Act states, “[t]he Minister of Justice may permit resettlement in the Republic of Korea of refugees seeking resettlement.” (Id. art. 24(1).)

The government planned to invite 30 refugees who were in Mae Sot, a border town between Thailand and Burma (Myanmar), to resettle in Korea, although that projected total was not met. The Ministry of Justice dispatched a staff member to look through the refugees’ application documents, conduct interviews, and check the identity and medical condition of each applicant. (Hyun-ju Ock, Korea to Take in Myanmar Refugees, KOREA HERALD (Sept. 21, 2015).)

The four families (22 refugees, including 11 minors) who arrived in Korea will stay at the Immigration Reception Center in Incheon for six to twelve months. The government will provide classes on the Korean language and on Korean society and culture to help the refugees integrate. The children will study at alternative schools beginning in March of next year. Preschoolers will be taken care of at a childcare service inside the Center or at daycare centers in the neighborhood. (Iou-chung Chang, Myanmar Refugees Begin a New Life in Korea, KOREA.NET (Dec. 30, 2015).)