A South Korean woman who is in Interpol’s Red Notice list has been living in Nepal for almost five years, raising serious questions about the workings of the immigration system here.
Hyun Joo Lee, 48, first came to Nepal as a tourist in January, 2010 and later renewed her visa as a student. She has been running a Korean restaurant at Naxal in the capital for the last six months.
Records at the Department of Immigration (DoI) show that Hyun enrolled at the Bishwo Bhasa Campus to learn Nepali after coming to Nepal and obtained a student visa. Later, she took a permit from the government to run her restaurant.
The failure of DoI to check foreign nationals for criminal records before issuing them any kind of visa has allowed many with criminal backgrounds to stay in Nepal. This has raising a question mark over Nepal’s security sensitivities.
“We don’t have a system that requires a police report for issuing any kind of visa to foreign nationals but Nepalis are required to submit police reports for going anywhere,” said a higly placed source at DoI, adding, “The Korean national could have married a Nepali citizen and thrown away her passport, expunging herself of her criminal record.”
Chief of Interpol Nepal, DSP Basundhara Khadka, told Republica that Hyun has already been sentenced to 10 months in jail in Korea. “The accused has already been sentenced to a 10-month jail term by the Korean authorities over cases of fraud. However, the nature of the fraud cases and the monetary amounts involved are not clear,” Khadka said.
Director General at DoI, Kedar Neupane, shared the difficulties of keeping records on all foreigners due to lack of advanced technology, software and trained manpower.
“We also need software compatible with the developed countries in order to have records on all foreigners on our fingertips,” said Neupane, adding, “Police handed her over to us a few days ago and we will be deporting her tomorrow.”
The Interpol section arrested Hyun from her restaurant on 3 June and handed her over to DoI for deportation. Meanwhile, the Korean embassy has cancelled her passport (No. M5846451) and issued her a travel document.