Thursday, May 26, 2005

Activist dovtor has to make a visa run

Activist doctor has to make a visa run

May 26, 2005 ㅡ A German medical doctor who has been a vocal activist for North Koreans' human rights has been ordered to leave the country by the end of May because he has been here longer than the 90 days allowed for German citizens without visas.
A Justice Ministry official said Dr. Norbert Vollertsen's 90-day limit expired April 14. Extensions can be given if the applicant is ill or needs to stay for business reasons, but ministry spokesman Han Myong-kwan said Dr. Vollertson did not meet the criteria. "He had already overstayed his limit," Mr. Han said. "Unless he was seriously ill or had his entire family here, he wouldn't have received the extension."
An Immigration Bureau official confirmed that the doctor will be able to stay for another 90 days upon his return. Douglas Shin, Dr. Vollertsen's personal aide, said he will fly to Japan and return to Korea immediately.
A former aid worker in North Korea, Dr. Vollertsen was deported from the North in December 2000 for his criticism of the regime. Since then, he has been a highly visible activist in the South for the cause of North Korean refugees, and has often criticized Seoul's policies toward the North. This is the first time he has overstayed his 90-day limit.
An Immigration Bureau official said there were no political motives behind the decision to expel the doctor. "We asked him to leave the country only because he stayed longer than 90 days," the official said. "We didn't bring any political issues to this."


by Yoo Jee-ho, Moon Byung-joo <enational@joonang.co.kr>

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