South Korea has announced that 19 citizens have been rescued by Myanmar police after being held by a local illegal business in a border town in eastern Myanmar.
Tachileik is located in the Golden Triangle region, a mountainous area bordering three countries – Myanmar, Laos and Thailand. The area is known to be a hotbed for illegal activities such as online fraud, voice phishing and human trafficking.
“All 19 of our nationals in detention in Myanmar have been transferred to a safe location,” said a spokesperson of South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs during a regular briefing on Nov. 14.
“Recently, there has been an increase in the number of criminal incidents in this region [the Golden Triangle], including the kidnapping and imprisonment of our nationals to force them to commit illegal acts in exchange for lucrative rewards.
“We urge our nationals to exercise extreme caution.”
The spokesperson added that the ministry will continue its preventive activities to combat such crimes and is also willing to consider raising the level of travel warnings for the region.
There have been an increasing number of cases of South Koreans being scammed into participating in crimes such as voice phishing, or being forced to seek help because they fear for their safety in the region.
In August, the government issued a special travel warning for the Golden Triangle region in northern Laos.
Separately, the South Korean Embassy in Laos released a statement in April to warn against illegal job scams.
“There have been a number of cases where South Korean nationals have been targeted by voice phishing or cryptocurrency investment scams in certain areas, such as the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone in Bokeo, northern Laos,” the statement read.
“South Korean citizens who have entered these areas for employment have not only ended up engaging in criminal activities that are not part of their normal job duties, but have also been imprisoned and assaulted by their employers with their passports taken away, and have not received any of the promised compensation.
“If you are considering working in a foreign country, such as Laos, we urge you to take special care to avoid becoming a victim.”
Edited by Mike Firn and Elaine Chan.