Severe punishment will be meted out to the perpetrators of the
human trafficking scandal which led to the deaths of 25 Chinese
stowaways at sea off the Korean peninsula.
The promise came from the government of Republic of Korea (ROK)
which also vowed to properly handle the remaining problems of the
Baik Young-ki, legal counsellor of the ROK Embassy in China
described the incident as a "very severe case.''
Baik said the local police are still hunting the human smuggling
ring based in the southern port of Yosu and the ROK side has
pledged to take steps to prevent a repeat and hunt down human
ROK police arrested Lee Pan-keun, 44, the skipper of the
Taechangho, and seven crew members. They also detained 34 Chinese
survivors from the human-smuggling boat.
ROK Government spokesman Park Joon-Young said it was a horrible and
inhumanitarian crime and pledged to maintain close consultations
with the Chinese government in the search for bodies and the
The stowaways were quoted by local press as saying they had each
promised to pay up to 10 million won (US$8,800) to the smugglers
after finding jobs in the Republic of Korea.
The Chinese Embassy in the ROK has sent officials to Yosu to
collect information from the survivors.
Shang Yuhe, consul of the embassy, said consul officials and ROK
police had visited the survivors and concluded their questioning
and they were now finalizing plans to repatriate them to China next
said the Chinese government was doing its best to bring them back
as soon as possible.
Many of the 60 stowaways -- including the 25 who died -- were from
eastern China's Fujian Province. In Fuzhou's Laorong Village,
relatives and villagers of the stowaways were deeply shocked by the
Anxiously waiting for updated information about his son, Chen
Zhenfeng said he had no contact with him for a month. He said Chen
Yiguang planned to emigrate to the US and needed to reach the ROK
to board a connecting ship.
said the family still owes around 5,000 yuan (US$600), which he had
to borrow to pay to the "snakehead'' who smuggled his son out of
China. They had agreed to pay the smugglers upwards of 60,000 yuan
(US$7,200) if Chen Yiguang arrived in the US successfully.
the village of Fengxiang, Chen Chuanmei is clutching her son Zhu
Xiaoxin's photo while tears stream down her face. "If I had known
he was planning to emigrate, I would rather have died than have
allowed him to go.''
According to the villagers, most of the stowaways believed the
ROK-bound journey would lead them to a better life.
However, they paid the ultimate price for daring to pursue this
dream and were probably deceived by "snake heads.''
Filling the void left by Korean workers in 3-D (dirty, difficult
and dangerous) jobs are foreign laborers.
According to Justice Ministry statistics of the ROK, about 200,000
illegal aliens residing in the Republic of Korea are from southeast
Asia and China. They usually work in 3-D jobs. Many are reported to
suffer from abusive and inhumane treatment from employers who take
advantage of the migrant workers' illegal status.