Saeteomin asylum seekers : the law and policy response
Faculty of Law
International journal of refugee law. - Eynsham
, p. 327-347
University of Antwerp
Over the past decade, developed countries have received significant numbers of North Korean asylum seekers. Some of these asylum seekers have managed to travel to developed countries without first travelling to South Korea. It has gradually become clear that many others are so-called Saeteomin or new settlers, meaning North Koreans who have first settled in South Korea. This article will examine the law and policy response of destination countries to the influx of Saeteomin, especially focusing on the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. It will demonstrate that destination countries have reacted in three principal ways to the Saeteomin asylum seekers. First, they have evolved a more restrictive refugee jurisprudence in key areas affecting Saeteomin. Second, they have shared asylum seeker fingerprints with the South Korean authorities in an effort to help distinguish Saeteomin who deny having settled in South Korea from North Koreans who have not previously settled in South Korea. Third, the UK and Canada have attempted to deter Saeteomin asylum seekers through adding South Korea to safe country lists. This article argues that while these responses may be generally permissible under international law, they result in a number of problematic or potentially negative consequences. It will conclude by suggesting policy measures that South Korea and destination countries can take to better manage the issue of Saeteomin asylum seekers by adequately protecting the privacy of personal data and focusing on reducing the impetus to seek asylum outside South Korea.