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Vietnam jails South Koreans for smuggling people during pandemic

March 17, 2023 Vietnam Crime & Legal

HANOI: Vietnam has jailed four South Korean men for smuggling people into the Southeast Asian country during the coronavirus pandemic, police said on Thursday.

Lee Kwan Yuong, 55, and Seo Yuong Jin, 50, were sentenced to 10 years in prison for “organizing illegal entry into Vietnam,” police in the central city of Da Nang said on their website.

Song Hong Sup and Kim Chang Gi were jailed for nine years and four-and-a-half years, respectively, by the court in Da Nang.

Vietnam largely closed its doors to the world in early 2020 to curb the spread of Covid-19, with a very small number of foreign experts and skilled workers from authorized companies given permission to enter. It reopened last March.

State media said the men had used their companies to illegally bring in nearly 200 South Koreans.

Lee, former deputy chairman of the Association of South Korean People in central Vietnam, earned more than $42,000 while Seo pocketed $3,600 from their services between December 2020 and March 2021, when they were arrested.

Fifteen Vietnamese men and women were jailed while five others, including one South Korean, were given suspended sentences for the same charge.

Vietnam’s authorities are examining several cases of wrongdoing during the pandemic period.

At least 100 officials and businessmen were arrested in connection with a scandal involving the distribution of Covid-19 testing kits.

Thirty-seven people — many of them senior diplomats and police — have also been arrested in an investigation into the repatriation of Vietnamese citizens during the pandemic.

South Korea is the top foreign investor in Vietnam, with total registered capital of more than $81 billion.

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