Lee Kwan Young, 53, deputy head of South Korean Association in central Vietnam, Seo Young Jin, 48, director of Han In Hue Co. Ltd and Song Hong Sub, 49, owner of Khan Vina Co. Ltd, have been detained for organizing illegal entry to Vietnam.
According to investigators, each has lived and worked in the central city of Da Nang for a while.
Taking advantage of Vietnam's policy to let in foreign experts during the pandemic after the nation had closed its border, Lee and Seo organized the immigration of South Koreans from Incheon International Airport to Da Nang.
Song took charge of advertising the service online and collecting information about South Koreans who want to enter Vietnam.
Lee and Seo took care of the paperwork to have companies in Vietnam use their legal status to sponsor South Koreans to enter Vietnam as foreign experts or investors.
The group had taken in South Koreans via this method four different times in December last year, and then in January, February and March this year.
Initial investigations show the South Koreans entering Vietnam via this ring were neither experts nor investors, nor included in the list of priority for entry during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The three men had admitted to have benefited from the service.
Vietnam closed its borders and canceled all international commercial flights on March 25, 2020 and has since only allowed Vietnamese repatriates and foreign experts, diplomats, investors and highly-skilled workers along with their parents, spouses and children to enter with stringent conditions related to Covid-19 testing and quarantine.
On May 9, Da Nang launched a criminal investigation into a ring that brought foreigners into Vietnam illegally under the cover of experts. The probe began after local police detected two cases where 20 foreigners entered the country on "expert visas" but did not know their guarantors’ businesses.
Da Nang police in June had launched investigations into four directors of four companies that had signed papers to sponsor illegal South Korean entries as experts.
So far, eight Vietnamese and one Chinese involved in the ring have also been arrested.