Free legal service for foreigners expanded

The Ministry of Justice announced to expand coverage of free legal consultation service for foreigners. / Korea Times file

By Eom Da-sol

More foreigners in Korea will be able to access a free legal service regardless of their visa status, starting Monday, Mar. 13.

This follows a Ministry of Justice decision to will expand its “local lawyer for foreigners” service.

The service was introduced in 2015, in 10 areas in Seoul where the largest foreign communities live.

Five to seven lawyers in each office have been dealing with legal issues such as divorce, crime and labor problems.

But from Mar. 13, the ministry, the Ministry of the Interior and the Korean Bar Association has designated144 lawyers to help foreigners.

Each of 15 immigration offices in the Seoul metropolitan area will also introduce a legal service for foreigners.

According to Korean Statistics, 1.71 million foreigners (about 4 percent of the population) were living in Korea in 2015.

However, they did not have a full access to domestic legal services because of language barriers and lack of information.

Foreigners in need of legal services can dial “1345” to arrange a consultation. The center will then schedule a three-party appointment involving a local lawyer.

Consultation is done by phone unless the caller wants to do so in person.

“We expect this policy to contribute to solving legal problems that foreigners face daily,” said a Ministry of Justice spokesperson.

For more information, call 1345.

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