Immigration officials began fingerprinting all foreigners over the age of 17 today, in line with their new policy which was passed in May of last year.
The new law stipulates that any foreigner who has resided here more than 90 days must have their fingerprints registered with immigration. Starting next January, all long-term residents must have their fingerprints registered.
The move is part of a three step plan to help police solve crimes and accidents. The final plan, which also goes into effect in January, is to fingerprint and photograph all visitors to the country.
Crimes by foreigners rose nearly fivefold over the past eight years from 4,328 in 2001 to 20,624 last year, the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported Tuesday, quoting national police data.
A growing list of countries worldwide now require fingerprinting upon arrival on their shores. Fingerprinting in Korea was disbanded in 2003, when it was found to violate human rights.