Gamblers Squeeze Out of South Korea Police Station Window and Flee

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Ten Vietnamese gamblers who escaped from a South Korean police station by squeezing through a window in the dead of night have all been rearrested, according to authorities in the southwestern city of Gwangju.

Security video of the Vietnamese gamblers hot-footing it to freedom after squeezing through a window at the police station. (Image: Korea Herald)

The 10 were part of a group of 23 Vietnamese nationals detained at a gambling house in the city in the early hours of Sunday morning. They managed to sneak through a 20-centimeter opening in a tilt window while awaiting interrogation on suspicion of illegal gambling.

The mass escape wasn’t discovered until around 6:40 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Fear of Deportation

All 10 were undocumented migrants who fled in fear they would be deported to Vietnam, authorities said. The other members of the group had documentation allowing them to stay in the country.

As a developed nation, South Korea has a far wealthier economy than developing Vietnam. The latter also has an authoritarian government that practices political oppression.

Nevertheless, seven escapees had surrendered to police or immigration authorities by Monday evening, South Korean news agency Yonhap reports. The other three were tracked down hiding in residences or a factory building in Gwangju after police analyzed security video and interviewed witnesses.

Once the police wrap up their investigation and potentially charge them with fleeing arrest, all 10 will be sent to the immigration office for deportation, according to officials.

Foreigners Only

South Korea has strict gambling laws. While the country has 18 licensed casinos, Korean citizens are prohibited from gambling in them. There’s one exception, Kangwon Land Casino in the highlands of Gangwon province.

Since South Korean criminal law applies to its citizens throughout the world, Kangwon Land is also the only spot where they are legally permitted to gamble on Earth.

Vietnam also has foreigner-only casino gambling laws, which would explain why Vietnamese gamblers might head for Korea. Although why they would choose to then gamble at an illegal casino when they could do that at home is anyone’s guess.

The Vietnamese government is currently running a pilot program as it mulls changing the laws to let locals in. This involves allowing locals to gamble at two casinos in the country to gauge the impact on the populace. Officials have said disruptions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic have made it difficult to gather adequate data.

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