News / Asia

    S. Korean Beach Becomes Focus in Debate Over ‘Lawbreaking’ Foreigners

    South Korean vacationers swim on Haeundae beach in Busan, South Korea, August 8 , 2010.
    South Korean vacationers swim on Haeundae beach in Busan, South Korea, August 8 , 2010.
    SEOUL — Police in South Korea's second largest metropolitan area are blaming foreigners, mainly Asian migrant workers, for committing an increasing number of crimes on one of the country's most popular beaches.
     
    The police station at Haeundae beach has sent a letter to 1,600 companies in the Busan area asking for their help in preventing their foreign employees from breaking the law.  
     
    The letter, dated July 10, asserts that during the summer vacation season foreigners “who drink and sleep in the park near the beach” are causing “many problems.” The letter also acknowledges that cultural misunderstandings may be exacerbating the situation.
     
    A policeman at the Haeundae beach station denied any unfounded discrimination against foreigners explaining there are “many cases” involving foreigners. He spoke to VOA News on condition he not be named.  
     
    South Korea is largely ethnically homogeneous, but the government has been pushing to embrace multiculturalism with more than 500,000 foreign workers legally in the country. Critics say the government still has policies that unfairly target foreigners, such as mandatory HIV and drug tests for foreign English teachers.
     
    Beach Worries

    On South Korea’s popular southeast coast, long-time visitors to Haeundae beach say they have noticed an increase in the number of foreigners in recent years. That is due, in part, police say, to busloads of migrant workers being dropped off at the beach by their companies during their summer holiday break.
     
    An official at the National Police Agency, who did not want to be named, denied a report by the Busan Ilbo that officers in Busan had asked the hundreds of companies employing foreigners to keep them away from the 1.5 kilometer-long beach at the southeastern end of the city, one of South Korea's most popular destinations for families and students during the holiday season.
     
    The police have printed materials for foreigners in Chinese, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesia and English for distribution in the Busan area, home to 4.4 million people, explaining how “cultural differences” can lead to them being arrested.  
     
    A separate advisory, circulated by the Human Resources Development Service of Korea to companies and posted online, alerts foreigners about the punishments for sexual assault and molestation convictions. It also warns against littering, public urination, rowdy behavior, damaging nature and taking photographs of people on the beach without their permission. It notes these same rules apply to South Korean citizens as well.
     
    The incidents appear to be sensitive matter in Busan. Police, the city government and rights groups representing migrant workers in the area all declined requests for on-the-record interviews this week.

    Foreigners Arrested
     
    The Yonhap news agency says a Bangladeshi and a Vietnamese national on Monday were apprehended for allegedly molesting teenaged girls, while a Burmese was detained after he was accused of taking close-up photographs of bikini-clad beach-goers.

    During the previous week, police say they arrested two Vietnamese and a Pakistani civil servant for secretly taking similar pictures.
     
    Authorities are approaching the matter carefully for fear their “guidance activities” aimed at foreign laborers  could ignite a racism debate, writes Robert Koehler, an American, in an article titled Will the Foreigners PLEASE Stop Molesting Women at the Beach, in his popular weblog The Marmot's Hole.
     
    Groups involved with migrant laborers say there may be several hundred thousand additional undocumented workers in the country.
     
    Most migrant laborers in South Korea are from Thailand, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Vietnam. The majority of those legally employed work under government-to-government contracts in local industrial sectors.
     
    Busan is the busiest trans-shipment port in Northeast Asia and its other flagship industries include steel and automobile parts manufacturing.

    Youmi Kim also contributed to this report.

    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora