The number of foreign nationals booked for drug offenses in South Korea has risen 140 percent in two years, despite an overall decrease on the foreign crime rate here, police data showed.
According to Rep. Kang Ki-yoon of the People Power Party, National Police Agency data, based on the number of bookings, shows a gradual increase in crimes committed by foreign nationals, coming to 36,069 in 2017, 34,832 in 2018, 39,249 in 2019 and 39,140 in 2020.
The increase has been slower than the overall increase in the population over the years, indicating an overall fall in the crime rate among the foreign population here.
And several serious crimes saw declines. The number of foreign nationals investigated for murder dropped 32 percent from 106 to 80. Sex crimes, robbery and assault also fell by rates of between 4.2 percent and 17 percent during the period.
But the number of foreign nationals booked for drug crimes more than doubled from 620 in 2017 to 1,428 last year. The figures for 2018 and 2019 were 596 and 1,028, respectively.
According to the police, the total number of drug offenders in Korea who were booked last year was 18,050, up 12.5 percent from 2019. This is the largest number of bookings since the crackdown on drug offenders.
Along with the increase in drug crimes, the amount of drugs flowing into the country from abroad is also on the rise.
Psychotropic drugs, such as methamphetamine, LSD and ecstasy, which were confiscated last year, totaled 304 kilograms, up 17.8 percent from the previous year, according to the Korea Customs Service. The data is for all drugs seized at the border, regardless of who brought it in.
Most drugs traded in Korea are believed to come from Southeast Asia where they are relatively easy to obtain. In many cases, drugs are secretly imported by means of international mail or courier items, or by personal mail.
Alongside drug crimes, the white collar crime such as fraud also increased 53 percent from 4,571 to 7,002 between 2017 and 2020, according to the data released by Rep. Kang.
By nationality, the biggest increase in crime rate was among Vietnamese increased 65 percent from 1,877 in 2017 to 3,102 last year. The number of crimes by Pakistanis also rose 62 percent from 274 to 444. The number of crimes committed by people from Thailand (from 2,285 to 3,252) and from Russia (from 1,072 to 1,477) also increased by about 40 percent.
The number of crimes done by Chinese nationals, which is the largest, fell 5 percent from 19,927 in 2017 to 18,922 last year. Japanese and American crimes fell 46 percent (from 251 to 171) and 16 percent (from 1,906 to 1,643), respectively.
By Shin Ji-hye (email@example.com)