SEOUL, Jun. 19 (Korea Bizwire) — As controversy surrounding Yemeni refugees in Jeju Island brews, over 200,000 people have petitioned against the refugees on the presidential Blue House’s website.
The initial petition titled “Petition Against the Approval of Refugees” gained the consensus of 208,096 people as of yesterday morning.
The central government is required to make an official reply if one single petition garners 200,000 online supporters within a month of its post.
The petitioner wrote that illegal immigrants and the cultural clashes resulting from them can lead to social problems.
“It is questionable to think that accepting the refugees would not marginalize the safety of Jeju residents,” read the post.
The petitioner also questioned whether the refugees were actually deserving of the status, noting, “The criteria on deciding refugee status must be re-inspected.”
Aside from this petition, almost 70 other online posts on the Blue House’s website expressed disapproval of Yemeni refugees in Jeju. One supporter wrote that Jeju’s non-visa policy on foreign visitors was being manipulated.
“Who is to say that none are associated with IS or Islamic extremists?” asked one petitioner. Meanwhile, there were also those who supported the incoming refugees.
One online petition reminded readers that Korea was the first Asian nation to establish a law on refugees. “I petition to support the refugees so that they are not once again threatened with war,” said the supporter of the influx of Yemeni refugees.
One petition that spoke of possible sex offenses in relation to the issue was deleted by administrators, as it was in contravention of the website’s policy against violent and suggestive content.
An official at the Blue House said the post was deleted because it was not relevant to the refugee crisis.
The Jeju Immigration Office stated that a total of 369 people had applied for refugee status from China, Yemen and elsewhere between January and April of this year.
Of those, 90 applicants (24.4 percent) were from Yemen. More recently, 76 people from Yemen took a direct flight from Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, and arrived in Jeju on May 2, a sign that Yemeni refugees are likely to continue to see South Korea as a safe haven.
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)