Republic of Korea
As of 31 December 2021, 3,575 people have been recognised as refugees or granted humanitarian status by the South Korean government. The majority of people holding humanitarian status are from Syria and Yemen. Some 2,143 new applications were submitted during the year 2021. This number has declined, with the Covid-19 pandemic and limitations imposed on travel and visa policies.
The role of UNHCR in the Republic of Korea is to engage with the government, judiciary, legislature, the National Human Rights Commission, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), civil society and persons of concern to improve the domestic protection system and the treatment of asylum-seekers, refugees and other persons of concern. It also includes ensuring respect for their rights and the principle of non-refoulement.
The Republic of Korea acceded to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol in 1992 and began registering asylum-seekers in 1994, with the first recognition of refugee status in 2001. The Refugee Act and its Presidential Decree and Enforcement Regulation came into effect on 1 July 2013. It is the first stand-alone comprehensive refugee law in the Republic of Korea and represents a significant enhancement of refugee protection.
For information about our work in the Republic of Korea:
Are you a refugee or asylum-seeker in the Republic of Korea? Find information about your rights and available services on our HELP site.
Visit the UNHCR Republic of Korea website for more information on our work in the area and the latest local news and stories.
For legislation, case law and UNHCR policy relating to claims for international protection, visit Refworld.