The unenviable situation of the Russians received an international notoriety last month when it was revealed that South Korea's Ministry of Justice had initially rejected asylum claims from at least five young people who had sought asylum in the country.
After being denied entry into South Korea, the men were stuck in the departure area of Incheon Airport while lawyers acting on their behalf appealed the decision to a local court.
Two of the five men awaiting a decision won their appeals this week and are now allowed to leave the airport and continue their asylum applications. The third Russian lost his case, but received permission to appeal the decision. He will stay in Incheon.
The two remaining Russian citizens who arrived in Seoul in November 2022 will also live at the airport. At least until their cases are heard in a local court.
One of the young people told The Korea Times that he initially crossed the Russian-Mongolian border, then flew to the Philippines, where he spent several weeks, but only after that I bought a one-way ticket to Seoul. He arrived at Incheon Airport on November 12, 2022 and hasn't left since. According to him, the choice of South Korea to apply is because he knew about the high level of democracy in the country and respect for civil rights.
However, few people know that, despite the signing of the United Nations Convention by South Korea on refugee status, the country rejects the vast majority of asylum claims. In fact, South Korea granted just over 1 percent of such applications in 2021.
The Justice Department says it initially denied the Russians because it did not consider the reasons they provided sufficient to qualify them for refugee status.