The people of Yemen are in a dire situation, many of whom are literally starving to death. After years of war, the population – many of whom are children – are in famine. There is no food and no help for them in Yemen.
Many of these people are turning to the refugee status as a means of getting help and support for themselves and their families. One country many Yemeni are heading to is South Korea. South Korea has strict immigration laws and for most nations a visa is needed. The exception lies in a South Korean island to the south of the country, Jeju Island.
Jeju Island is a very popular tourist destination, for South Koreans are tourists alike. As a means of gaining revenue and popularity through visits to Jeju Island, the South Korean government relaxed its laws for entry to Jeju, removing the immigration restrictions.
It is Jeju that many of these Yemeni refugees are heading to. There are currently thousands of Yemeni refugees waiting on the island for confirmation of their accepted refugee status into South Korea.
However, many Koreans are not happy with this. South Korea is a highly homogenous country, with over 90% of its residents born in Korea or of Korean heritage. The few foreigners that live or relocated there often find troubles in the way they are treated, and Korea has been in the news before for its insensitive treatment of black people and other races, using cruel stereotypes and even black face. Their opinions on refugees are similar, and many are not welcoming to these visitors at well.
It remains to be seen what the verdict will be for the Yemeni refugees, but it’s likely that even if they are accepted as citizens in South Korea, it will be only the beginning of their journey.