Migrant Forum in Asia
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South Korea’s Crackdown on Undocumented Migrants: A Statement of Condemnation



The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) of South Korea has announced a 77-day joint government crackdown on undocumented migrants, starting from April 15th to June 30th, 2024. This statement condemns this crackdown and calls for a more humane and effective approach to managing migration.

Failure of Previous Crackdowns

Despite the government’s stated goal of reducing the number of undocumented migrants, the number has actually increased from 410,965 in January 2023 to 423,085 in January 2024. This indicates that the government’s enforcement-focused approach has failed to achieve its objectives.

Harm to Vulnerable Communities

The government’s crackdown on undocumented migrants has a disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities, including ethnic minorities, low-wage workers, and families. These individuals are often subjected to exploitation, discrimination, and human rights abuses.

Disregard for Cultural and Religious Events

The MOJ has even used cultural and religious events as opportunities to conduct raids, such as the crackdown on a Thai restaurant in Pocheon(City) during the Songkran festival. This demonstrates a lack of respect for the cultural and religious practices of migrant communities.

Harmful Impacts of Enforcement-Focused Approach

The government’s enforcement-focused approach not only fails to reduce the number of undocumented migrants but also leads to a number of negative consequences, including:

  • Increased human rights abuses
  • Economic hardship for businesses and communities that rely on migrant labor
  • Strained diplomatic relations with other countries

Call for a More Humane and Effective Approach

Civil society organizations have long advocated for a more humane and effective approach to migration management, one that is based on regularization rather than enforcement. This includes:

  • Providing pathways to legal status for undocumented migrants
  • Expanding access to employment opportunities for migrants
  • Promoting integration and social cohesion


The MOJ’s crackdown on undocumented migrants is misguided and harmful. The government should instead adopt a more humane and effective approach that recognizes the contributions of migrants and promotes their integration into Korean society.

The MOJ should immediately suspend the joint government crackdown on undocumented migrants. The government should conduct a comprehensive review of its migration policies and develop a more humane and effective approach. The government should work with civil society organizations and migrant communities to develop and implement new policies.
We urge the Korean government to reconsider its approach to undocumented migrants and adopt a more humane and effective strategy that respects human rights, promotes integration, and benefits all of Korean society.


*In relation to the above, a press conference is planned to condemn the government’s joint crackdown in front of the Yongsan Presidential Office at 11 a.m. on 18 April  2024.

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MFA is a regional network of non-government organizations (NGOs), associations and trade unions of migrant workers, and individual advocates in Asia who are committed to protect and promote the rights and welfare of migrant workers.

It is guided by a vision of an alternative world system based on respect for human rights and dignity, social justice, and gender equity, particularly for migrant workers.

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