S. Korea denies refugee status to Yemeni asylum seekers, grants temporary stay permits

South Korea has denied refugee status but granted temporary stay permits to hundreds of Yemeni asylum seekers who arrived on the southern island of Jeju this year, the Ministry of Justice said on Wednesday. More than 500 Yemenis sought refuge in South Korea between January and May, having fled the war that has engulfed their homeland. The influx of asylum seekers to South Korea – which has only granted refugee status to 839 of 40,470 applicants from various countries since 1994, not including defectors from North Korea – led to the government tightening immigration laws in June, Reuters said. A total of 481 Yemenis have applied for asylum, with 362 granted temporary humanitarian stay permits, the ministry said. Another 34 applications were rejected with no permits issued, and 85 cases are still being processed. Most of the Yemenis flew into the resort island of Jeju, where they have largely been blocked from leaving for mainland South Korea.