International Journal of Applied Sociology

p-ISSN: 2169-9704    e-ISSN: 2169-9739

2022;  12(1): 31-39


Received: Oct. 21, 2022; Accepted: Nov. 18, 2022; Published: Nov. 24, 2022


Homegrown Terrorism in Korea's Multicultural Society

Shin Jae-Hun

Yeungnam University College Department of NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer), Daegu, Republic of Korea

Correspondence to: Shin Jae-Hun, Yeungnam University College Department of NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer), Daegu, Republic of Korea.


Copyright © 2022 The Author(s). Published by Scientific & Academic Publishing.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).


Like in the United States, which has reported scores of homegrown terrorism incidents, South Korea currently experiences a fast-growing multicultural society, and there are growing concerns that incidences of radicalization of alienated youths in the country through the internet could trigger the growth of homegrown terrorism. South Korea should evaluate if its multicultural society and how it could be connected to domestic terrorism. To achieve this goal, this thesis paid attention to the connections between domestic terrorism and Korea's multicultural society. This thesis looks at South Korea’s multicultural society as a risk factor for homegrown terrorism, the link between violent extremism and social exclusion in South Korea, and radicalization and ideology for homegrown terrorism in South Korea. It is established that young people on South Korea’s multicultural who face a variety of political, social, cultural, and/or economic obstacles are more likely to become radicals. Antipathy toward their host society is triggered by faulty social exclusion policies. Hence, while South Korea has not yet been the target of homegrown or other Islamic-inspired terrorism, it is at danger due to high levels of alienation among migrants, many of whom are unemployed and vulnerable to radicalization. Jihadi-Salafi recruiters target frustrated migrant workers. Jihadi-Salafis hide terrorist activities as companies or charities. They raise money and train operatives via charity contributions and religious activities. Existence of such organisations does not establish terrorists or their supporters in the ROK. To reduce the likelihood of a similar incident, the ROK must increase awareness of prospective terrorist operations and reach out to migrant populations and the general people. The ROK should keep changing and executing its draft legislation. Any such legislation must balance the necessity to increase the NIS's capabilities to prevent and react to terrorism with the rights of all ROK residents.

Keywords: Multicultural society, Homegrown terrorism, Lone wolf terrorism, Terrorism, Radicalization, Jihadi-Salafi

Cite this paper: Shin Jae-Hun, Homegrown Terrorism in Korea's Multicultural Society, International Journal of Applied Sociology, Vol. 12 No. 1, 2022, pp. 31-39. doi: 10.5923/j.ijas.20221201.04.

1. Introduction

Governments all throughout the globe have prioritized counterterrorism after the 9/11 attacks. Many governments, including the Republic of Korea (ROK), now understand the need for community involvement in counterterrorism and national security measures on account of concerns over "homegrown" or domestic terrorism (US Department of State, 2022). In some countries in the West, such as the United States, Australia and Canada, community-based strategies are used in "soft" counter-violent extremism (CVE) efforts to address the causes of violent radicalization (Alex et al., 2010; Yu, 2017; Goedde & Kim, 2017; O’Brien et al., 2019; O'Duffy, 2008). As a result, Muslim youth have received disproportionate attention from counterterrorism and CVE operations because they consider social marginalization, alienation, and disenfranchisement the main reasons for radicalization and the subsequent development of violent extremism (Gabdel-Fattah, 2019; Githens-Mazer, 2012; Githens-Mazer & Lambert, 2010). On equal proportion, soft security measures including in the case with South Korea’s censorship and wiretapping practices that are undertaken for counterterrorism activities under Anti-Terrorism Act,1 are criticized for undermining national security by "securitizing" programs and practices promoting integration, social cohesion, and multiculturalism.
In effect, multiculturalism has been on the rise in South Korean society since the 1990s. According to data provided by the Ministry of Justice, foreigners made up 3.9% of South Korea's total population in December 2016. (or approximately 2.05 million people) (Seo, 2017). More than three million non-citizens could be expected to call the country home in due course. In light of the dramatic increase in the number of foreign residents, the South Korean government has been crafting and enforcing multicultural policies throughout all sectors of the country's society, especially in the fields of politics and education. Foreign residents in South Korea have been subject to stricter monitoring since 2005 (Seo, 2017). That year, the government officially recognized the immigration crisis as a "task entrusted by the president" (Oh, 2007). In April 2006, at a state affairs conference, the president declared the "transformation of Korean society into a multicultural and multiethnic society" an "inevitable development," prompting a flurry of activity among government institutions to draft multicultural policies. From the "Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in South Korea" in 2007 to the "Multicultural Families Support Act" and "Act on the Employment of Foreign Workers" in 2008 to the "Multicultural Family Support Measures" in 2016, South Korea has enacted several laws to protect and aid its migrant and immigrant communities. There are, however, two problems with the increasing diversity in South Korea. Although a number of government agencies have issued guidelines pertaining to multiculturalism, the notion itself is still not fully understood.
Moreover, given that the policies proposed by each department are just stopgap measures, they often conflict with one another and are ultimately ineffective (Seo, 2017). Another issue is that most policies put the onus of change on those who are not originally from South Korea while downplaying the efforts and flexibility of South Koreans. Critics argue that South Korea's multicultural policies give the appearance of supporting variety while, in reality, they encourage cultural assimilation, which could trigger homegrown terrorism (Um, 2011). The second difficulty is generated by South Korea's long-standing and prevalent attitude toward foreigners. As a result, the country has been unable to properly implement a reform to its institutional structure that would encourage diversity (Seo, 2017).
Diversity is growing and transforming Korean society in deep ways. Multiple multicultural policies have been adopted by governments and local self-government groups since the middle of the 2000s. Accepting diversity as the "sole option" without a deep philosophical debate frequently leads to this dissonance. By analyzing the policies of the Korean government over the last 15 years, we can see that, despite its rhetorical commitment to diversity, it has really been rather assimilative (Park, 2008). Korean academics have recently engaged in significant discussions on multiculturalism while focusing mostly on the Anglophone world (including the United States and Canada) and paying less attention to the interculturality of the European realm than in the past (Yu, 2017; Goedde & Kim, 2017). Contrarily, interculturalism has gained popularity in Europe under harsh criticism of multiculturalism, where it has supplanted it as a viable choice. Given this, South Korea should assess whether its multicultural environment is more comparable to that of the United Kingdom, the United States, or that of Europe, and how it could be linked to homegrown terrorism (Seo, 2017). Therefore, it is suggested that while pursuing this aim, emphasis be paid to the links between Korea's multicultural society and homegrown terrorism. If multiculturalism is presented as "an ideal of equality and mutual respect between groups of different races and customs," it will be harder for it to catch on in Korean culture than in other places. However, how could it be connected to the growth of homegrown terrorism, which has been linked to discrimination against minorities. Studies have showed that the 2004 and 2005 train bombings in Madrid and the 2005 suicide bombings in London are examples of how discrimination and ridicule of minorities are at the root of terrorism (The Korean Times, 2011).

2. Research Purpose and Objectives

There may not be any hard evidence of "homegrown" Islamic terrorism in the ROK just yet, but this article will argue that the stage is being set for it. In light of this information, the ROK must create and implement a comprehensive program that focuses on both increased monitoring and palliative outreach to potential offenders, their families, and community leaders, if there is such a thing (Ahmed, 2012). The ROK is not safe from terrorist attacks and has no experience with them. Since its inception in 1948, it has responded to several acts of terrorism, including attacks on Iranians living overseas. Bombings, shootings, hijackings, and kidnappings have all been components of attacks against Republic of Korea (ROK) targets. Almost all recent terrorist incidents in the ROK can be traced back to North Korea (Fischer 2007). Only North Korea has been responsible for any terrorist actions inside the Republic of Korea. But Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations have often made threats against the United States, and some of these groups are known to have ties to Al-Qaeda (4). In 2007 for instance, 23 Christian missionaries were kidnapped in Afghanistan, and in 2004, Kim Sun-Il was assassinated in Iraq in an act of terrorism against its people overseas.
Like in the United States, which has reported scores of homegrown terrorism incidents, South Korea currently experiences a fast-growing multicultural society, and there are concerns that incidences of radicalization of alienated youths in the country through the internet could trigger the growth of homegrown terrorism (Alex et al., 2010; Yu, 2017; Goedde & Kim, 2017; O’Brien et al., 2019; O'Duffy, 2008). In light of this, South Korea should evaluate if its multicultural society is more like to that of the United Kingdom, the United States, or that of Europe and how it could be connected to domestic terrorism (Seo, 2017). To achieve this goal, it is advised that special attention be given to the connections between domestic terrorism and Korea's multicultural society. It will be more difficult for multiculturalism to take hold in Korean society than in other cultures if it is portrayed as "an ideal of equality and mutual respect amongst groups of various races and traditions" (Sin, 2009). But how could it be associated with the rise of domestic terrorism? Are young people in South Korea’s multicultural society who face a variety of political, social, cultural, and/or economic obstacles more likely to become radicals than young people who have more access to cultural, sociological, and human capital resources and expect socioeconomic upward mobility?
This thesis evaluates homegrown terrorism in South Korea’s multicultural society. This is the core of this research. The relationship between multiculturalism and national security in South Korea is unique, and it needs to be examined critically. There is also a need to look at the nature of policy dynamics on multiculturism in Korea, and how it might affect immigrants when they perceive discrimination. Against this backdrop, this thesis examines multiculturalism as a risk factor for homegrown terrorism and Homegrown terrorism and ideology for radicalization before looking into the case of South Korea. Here, this thesis looks at South Korea’s multicultural society as a risk factor for homegrown terrorism, the link between violent extremism and social exclusion in South Korea, and radicalization and ideology for homegrown terrorism in South Korea.

3. Multiculturalism as a Risk Factor for Homegrown Terrorism

Over the past 2 decades, the term "multiculturalism" has fallen out of favor in Western political and policy discussion. It has gradually been supplanted by terminology and concepts such as "diversity management" (Ragazzi, 2016). The release of the Council of Europe's "White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue" provided impetus for this movement. To begin with, many academics believe the two ideologies are interchangeable (Meer and Modood, 2012). According to Vertovec and Wessendorf (2010), the terms interculturalism and multiculturalism may be used interchangeably (2010). Meer and Modood's (2012) thesis is more compelling. They argue that people who support political interculturalism and talk about how it helps promote discussion, recognize different identities, stress unity, and impose freedom-Limiting cultural applications contradicts the essential ideas of multiculturalism. They argue that interculturalism cannot be understood as a distinct theoretical framework unless it is considered as an addition to multiculturalism. Interculturalism cannot be seen as a logical counter-argument to multiculturalism. According to Levey (2012, p.23), interculturalism will not be a separate philosophical and practical notion that will take its place when multiculturalism is "wrecked" after decades, but rather "another recognized and publicly merchantable brand." According to Maxwell et al. (2012), multiculturalism and interculturalism are fundamentally distinct (2013).
Maxwell et al. (2012, p.432) emphasized that multiculturalism's integration and diversity management programs consider the promotion and valuing of cultural diversity as political goals. Interculturalism, on the other hand, sees immigrant integration as a transparent and dynamic process that transforms a shared culture and society via the mutual learning and interaction of people from varied origins. Because of his book The Politics of Recognition, Taylor (1992) is widely considered as the foremost expert on multiculturalism. On the other hand, Taylor he supports the necessity and importance of interculturalism in his most recent work, Interculturalism or Multiculturalism? Where he differentiates between intercultural and multicultural foci. According to Taylor (2012), the cornerstone of multiculturalism is "the acceptance of diversity" rather than "social unification." If the wider concept of multiculturalism includes policies aimed at both knowledge of variety and integration, the prefix "multi" provides more weight to the acknowledgment of diversity, while the prefix "inter" gives more weight to integration (Park, 2008). There is a widespread belief that multiculturalism, which has undermined individual rights, particularly those of women, is to blame for minority groups' behaving as though they are the only actors in the world (Ley, 2010; Levey, 2012; Poynting & Mason, 2008; Vertovec & Wessendorf, 2010; Seo, 2017). Accepting the cultural variety of contemporary civilizations as a fact of life is critical. However, the consultation revealed that many participants were no longer comfortable with multiculturalism as a government strategy. In no country are diversity and assimilation fully or equally practiced (Letki, 2008). The new interculturalist paradigm combines the finest characteristics of the two present paradigms (Oh, 2007; Yoon, 2008). When cultural diversity and assimilation do not accept and appreciate one another's cultural differences, both notions lose their attractiveness. More importantly, it adds a new part—discourse—that is based on mutual respect and agreement on values, both of which are needed for social integration and cohesion.
Canada, Australia, Denmark, and the United Kingdom are examples of multicultural or diverse countries that have been vocal supporters of counter-violent extremism (CVE). In each of their counterterrorism approaches, they take into account the specific characteristics of the target community in light of its history and culture (Oh, 2007; Um, 2011; Park, 2008; Yoon, 2008). Though CVE tactics that respect and encourage cultural and racial diversity promote multiculturalism and social cohesion, immigrant and second-generation immigrant youth have been disproportionately singled out as a vulnerable target demographic by policies and programs (Abbas, 2007). CVE projects, in particular, have a history of focusing mainly on Muslim communities, which has had a negative impact on how Muslims and the general public see Islam and terrorism (Ragazzi, 2016). Many people regard CVE practices, policies, and programs as innately paradoxical because they claim to foster community while frequently undermining it through various forms of discrimination (Ragazzi, 2017). This inconsistency exemplifies the larger national security policy quandary.
South Korea is not alone in its "trend" toward securitization. It is often assumed that this multiculturalism, or its rebranding as social cohesion, is a response to the threat of "homegrown" terrorism in the country (Husband & Alam, 2011). Multiculturalism does not have a set definition; rather, it changes through time and space (Oh, 2007; Um, 2011; Park, 2008; Yoon, 2008). However, in many countries where it had previously been widely accepted as a component of social policy and popular culture, there has been a considerable reaction against it since 2001 (Vertovec & Wessendorf, 2010). Early multicultural policies not only advocated for equal opportunity, representation, and treatment, but they also recognized demographic diversity, made symbolic and financial investments in it, and celebrated diversity (Ley, 2010). Opponents of multiculturalism have maintained that by not compelling immigrants to integrate into "mainstream" culture, the policy regime has resulted in the formation of "parallel life" for these groups (Cantle, 2001). David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said publicly in 2011 that "the idea of state multiculturalism" was to blame for social division and, as a result, a deterioration in national security. Soft security measures are often adopted, with social cohesiveness and resilience acting as the basis. Terrorism and security studies frequently situate current national security concerns in the context of immigrant, secular societies grappling with shifting social landscapes, super-diversity, issues of citizenship and identity politics, and cutting-edge perceptions of domestic terrorism and security threats (Aly et al., 2014).

4. Homegrown Terrorism and Ideology for Radicalization

The term "homegrown terrorism" indicates a link between aggressive national security measures and inadequate monitoring (Eatwell and Goodwin 2010; Ganor, 2002). Domestic terrorism, as defined below, refers to terrorist acts planned or carried out by citizens of the country in question. The efficiency of the preventative paradigm has lately been called into question (Pain, 2014). The bulk of the criticism has focused on the risks of attempting to achieve both national security and social cohesion at the same time (Aly 2013). Because the soft security preventative approach emerged in response to a very specific set of events and circumstances, a discussion of how and why this change occurred is required to properly comprehend these issues.
Although the concept of domestic terrorism is not new, it does challenge the common understanding that terrorists must be foreigners (Kühle & Lindekilde, 2012; Ganor, 2002; Heath-Kelly, 2012; 2013). It is assumed in these more standard cases that an overseas terrorist organization sends out spies to discover possible targets (Alex et al., 2010; O’Brien et al., 2019; O'Duffy, 2008). Once the assessment is complete and the ground is ready for an assault, a fresh team of operators will be brought in from overseas (the attack may or may not be a suicide mission). If the mission wasn't a suicide mission, the operatives would leave the area after the strike.
Local terrorists, on the other hand, frequently blend in with the background and act as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening. They are not lawbreakers, and they seldom engage in extreme behavior. There is a disproportionate number of young people in terrorist cells in the United States who are first-or second-generation immigrants (O’Brien et al., 2019; O'Duffy, 2008). These cells often operate independently, either with or without ideological ties to larger, more established terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda (Kühle & Lindekilde, 2012; Heath-Kelly, 2012; 2013). There have been several high-profile domestic terrorism occurrences across the world, including the Madrid train explosion; the Hofstad Group assaults in Amsterdam; the London metro and bus bombings; Operation Pendennis in Australia; and the Toronto 18 cases. Terrorist plots are not unprecedented on American soil, as shown by the 2007 Fort Dix incident and the 2006 Sears Tower proposal. Domestic terrorism is a threat that every country must address now and in the future.
Terrorism experts have determined that those who are more likely to acquire terrorist ideology have a number of common traits, including youth, unemployment, loneliness, the desire to feel significant to themselves, and the urge to join a group. They also note that these individuals may feel connected to religion, making them a prime target for radical religious leaders (Kaplan 2007). Thus, for would-be terrorists, radicalization and religious conviction are key. The need for belonging and approval is a major factor in the radicalization issue in the West and, to a lesser extent, Northeast Asia. Unfortunately, extremist Islam sometimes gives individuals a feeling of belonging and identity (Alex et al., 2010; Yu, 2017; Goedde & Kim, 2017; O’Brien et al., 2019; O'Duffy, 2008). Jihadi-Salafism is a violent ideology that inspires young individuals to launch solo terrorist attacks against their own countries This attitude underpinned every single Western internal structure mentioned in the book. Terrorism is the fourth and last stage in radicalization's four-stage process. The first three stages of radicalization are self-identification, indoctrination, and jihadization. People passing through each stage may not always advance in a linear fashion, but rather exhibit a wide range of features and qualities unique to that stage. Remember that the vast majority of people who begin the radicalization process will eventually abandon it. However, it is not out of the question that someone may really carry out terrorist acts. Anyone is susceptible to radicalization at any given time. Based on their investigation of domestic terrorism occurrences, the New York Police Department found that response times for different groups ranged from four to thirteen years. One of the most crucial parts of the radicalization process is the influence of the triggers. A variety of seemingly innocuous locations, including bookstores, mosques, grocery stores, flophouses, student clubs, and restaurants, may actually conceal the triggers. Online communities like this one serve as a hub for those who have chosen to radicalize and associate with others who share their views. The role of the internet as a contemporary catalyst for radicalization is impossible to deny. Thousands of extreme websites and message boards offer a virtual backdrop. In actuality, many would-be radicals begin their journey by simply perusing the Internet. The usage of the internet varies throughout the spectrum of radicalization (Kühle & Lindekilde, 2012; Heath-Kelly, 2013).
Counter-radicalization projects have been developed in several countries on the premise that people from minority grpops are more vulnerable to radicalization by extremists (Lindekilde, 2012). However, the majority of researchers argue that loneliness and extremist radicalization are linked (Piazza, 2006). Because there is no obvious sequence of events between radicalization and violence, causal linkages are often neglected. For example, radicalization and violent outbursts are no longer thought to be caused by low socioeconomic status, low educational attainment, and a lack of social integration (d'Appolonia, 2010).

5. South Korea’s Multicultural Society as a Risk Factor for Homegrown Terrorism

More than two million individuals have moved to South Korea, adding to the nation's increasing variety as its culture grows more multiethnic and global. Similar effects on Korean society have been seen from global movements like immigration. Migration of individuals from various origins alters society through affecting institutions in both the sending and receiving nations. It is crucial to remember that not everyone supports this change (The Korean Times, 2011). In addition, there is a rising movement that opposes fundamentalism, which usually manifests in reaction to the cultural changes that immigration brings about. There is also a lot of talk about how social unrest and economic instability make fundamentalism grow into violent extremism (Yu, 2017; Goedde & Kim, 2017). Many people think that lone wolves who have been radicalized and fiercely fanatic are responsible for the most recent terrorist acts in Europe (The Korean Times, 2011). Even though political and religious reasons may be different, it is important to keep in mind that radicalism and violent extremism are usually seen as the main reasons for these things. Studies have showed that the 2004 and 2005 train bombings in Madrid and the 2005 suicide bombings in London are examples of how discrimination and ridicule of minorities are at the root of terrorism (The Korean Times, 2011).
It is crucial to prevent domestic terrorism and lone wolf terrorism because the Republic of Korea is not immune to the violent extremism that is overtaking Asia. The whole society must work together to stop violent extremism (GAbdel-Fattah, 2019; ithens-Mazer, 2012; Githens-Mazer & Lambert, 2010). Or, to put it another way, religion, education, business, and civil society all play significant roles in the struggle against radicalization and the spread of violent extremism (Ley, 2010; Seo, 2017). This response is to minimize the circumstances that support extremism and radicalism. People from minority groups and people who are poor are more likely to become radicalized and take part in violent extremism, so it's important for them to be part of society (The Korean Times, 2011).
However, unlike countries that have faced terrorism from Muslim immigrants or ex-colonies, South Korea has no significant religious issues and no history of subjugating its neighbors. It is more likely that disaffected people may participate in terrorist actions, either on their own or as part of a larger group, if the gap between people's expectations and satisfaction levels is allowed to widen (Ley, 2010; Levey, 2012; Seo, 2017). This calls for a need to create a legal framework for counterterrorism measures, including eavesdropping and forbidding any interaction with Al-Qaeda and other global terrorist organizations, to prevent future terrorist strikes. In addition to "hard targets" like airports and government buildings, the professor urged the security of "soft targets" like public transit systems.

6. The Link between Violent Extremism and Social Exclusion in South Korea

From the perspective of counterterrorism activities, social marginalization is often seen as a precursor to radicalization. Prevention is the purpose of soft security measures. They address factors that are supposed to render children "susceptible." In other words, in order to reflect policy, they investigate the vulnerability of underprivileged children and attempt to solve the causes of why young people become radicalized. It is especially evident when efforts are made to excuse domestic terrorism. According to Githens-Mazer and Lambert (2012), a common understanding of domestic terrorism has changed over time, owing to media coverage and governmental reactions. This shift in focus from "homegrown" to "foreign" terrorism can be observed in politicians' and the media's quest for easy answers to how "good Muslim youths" (or "a delightful Asian youngster") become suicide bombers" (Githens-Mazer & Lambert, 2010, pp. 889–891). According to D'Appolonia (2010, pp. 127–28), young people's antipathy against their host community may be justified by relying on widely believed but unfounded social exclusion ideas. This category offers numerous reasons for the link between poverty and violent extremism. According to D'Appolonia, at this moment, a young person may begin to perceive violence as the most practical method to express their wrath and frustration. To prevent radicalization and terrorist actions, people must be aware of their own vulnerability. It is critical to understand the importance of identity issues in order to fully realize the situations that may lead to a young person rebelling against their host community.
Identity crises among young people are recognized, with a focus on the increased risk experienced by young people of color, and this susceptibility is considered when developing policy (Lindekilde, 2012). Some academics, on the other hand, argue that this field is irrelevant. While acknowledging the relevance of underlying causes, Richards (2015) maintains that focusing on potential victims of terrorism is a distraction. Despite these assertions, research has identified several social exclusion-related features as relevant, and these factors continue to influence counterterrorism policy (Ley, 2010; Levey, 2012; Poynting & Mason, 2008; Vertovec & Wessendorf, 2010; Seo, 2017).
The Anti-Terrorism Act makes it more probable for South Korean people of foreign descent to face prejudice and be mistakenly accused of terrorism. Migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees may be singled out as potential terrorists because of their Muslim religion or place of origin. On November 18, 2015, the director of the NIS gave an example of this kind of discrimination when he asserted—without providing any supporting documentation—that some of the Syrian refugees who were applying for asylum were ISIS members (Goedde and Kim, 2017). Since these communities are vulnerable and truly seeking safety, non-governmental organizations and legal groups have spoken out against quick announcements that encourage racial and religious hatred. Racial profiling against people who reside in countries where Islam is the dominant religion may be influenced by fear of terrorism and widespread xenophobia. Despite the fact that both the ICCPR and the Korean Constitution include sweeping bans on racism, South Korea has not yet passed legislation against racial discrimination (Goedde and Kim, 2017). Government bias against immigrants and foreigners is thus more likely to arise. Human rights advocates, for instance, protested when regional immigration authorities passed legislation safeguarding Korean refugees due to the "danger of Islamic terrorism."
The Refugee Act gives foreigners the legal right to request asylum at airports and ports, but immigration officials have the discretion to deny the request if they have a good-faith suspicion that the applicant supports terrorism. Since the Anti-Terrorism Act was passed, Korean immigration officials may refuse entrance to anybody with Muslim heritage by using the United Nations' classification of terrorist organizations. Non-citizens are more exposed as a consequence of heightened monitoring and a lack of legal safeguards. For instance, the PCSA needs judicial clearance before wiretapping Korean citizens, but foreigners suspected of engaging in anti-government activity just need written permission from the president. This discrimination presents a serious threat to the right to equal treatment in the law under Korean constitutional law and international human rights rules owing to the vagueness of the phrase "anti-government" and the absence of a compelling reason to deny foreigners due process.

7. Radicalization and Ideology for Homegrown Terrorism in South Korea

According to a Republic of Korea government survey, immigrants prefer to keep their distance from native Koreans (ROK Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs 2007). This indicates how many ROK expatriates want to stay in diaspora communities where they may maintain their cultural traditions. People in these distant communities are free to reject conventional Korean culture and society since they are essentially untouched by the outside world. As a result, many inhabitants see the ROK as nothing more than their home.
Nothing diminishes alienation more than how foreigners are regarded in Korean society. Despite an increase in the number of foreigners in the Republic of Korea since the late 1980s and a higher readiness to accept foreign cultures and foreigners now than ten, or even five, years ago, the majority of the populace remains apathetic, if not hostile, to anything foreign. Furthermore, Koreans are acutely aware of class and religious disparities, and they may be hostile to anyone they perceive to be less fortunate in social, economic, or educational terms (with the majority of Koreans viewing Islam and Islamic countries as educationally and socially inferior).
Foreigners working and residing in the ROK may feel alienated and hostile as a result of these situations, as well as Koreans' cultural proclivity to openly reject other cultures and personalities (particularly those from China, Japan, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, and the Middle East). Is Korea Still an Isolated "Island Nation?" asks the country's most widely read newspaper. This article raised several questions about how the Republic of Korea treats its foreign citizens. For the purposes of this study, I interviewed fifty non-Koreans working in the ROK in a variety of professions, including corporate executives, representatives of multinational businesses, university professors and instructors, and students.
Because of radicalization, Sin (2009) claimed there are Terrorism Support Possibilities, particularly lone wolf terrorism. Even though there have been no reports of "homegrown" terrorists or terrorist activities thus far (US Department of State, 2022). According to Sin (2009) Sin (2009), some parts of ROK society may be helping terrorist groups and individuals outside of ROK borders, either on purpose or by accident, such as World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), and the Muslim World League (MWL) all have active groups in Korea today.
The MWL was founded in 1962. It is a non-government Islamic group with its headquarters in Saudi Arabia. The organization's goals include defending Islamic causes in a way that protects Muslims' interests and aspirations, addresses their issues, disproves false claims made against Islam, and combats divisive trends and dogma used by Islam's enemies to undermine Muslims' unity and sow doubt in the minds of our Muslim brothers and sisters. The MWL is a supporter of Wahhabism, a strict Salafist school of thought common in Saudi Arabia (Sin, 2009). Beginning in the 1980s, Mohammed Jamal Khalifa directed MWL efforts in Pakistan. He was Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law and a well-known Muslim Brotherhood member. Khalifa funded Operation Bojinka in 1995, a plan to deliver bombs to 11 US-bound planes over the Pacific and South China Sea at the same time. Khalifa established the Benevolence International Foundation ( The MWL has disbanded the Rabita Trust, a non-profit that assisted Afghan refugees in Pakistan. When it was discovered that the trust was intentionally assisting terrorist groups, the US Senate Finance Committee started an investigation. The WAMY, presently led by the MWL (, is one group accused of sponsoring both local and international terrorism, as well as Islamic extremism ( The Republic of Korea's government has recognized WAMY as a legal Islamic organization since its inception in 1983 (Sin, 2009).
The IIRO is a member of the MWL and one of its eight subsidiaries. This edifice is owned by one of the Saudi non-profit organizations (World Muslim League 2008 and Korea Muslim Federation 2008). In 2008, the World Muslim League and the Korea Muslim Federation were both established. The IIRO has been connected to terrorism by the UN and other international agencies. According to Singaporean military expert Rohan Gunaratna, Osama bin Laden's brother-in-law Muhammad Jamal Khalifa is a close relative. Gunaratna also identified IIRO as a well-known radical Islamic group before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks on the United States (Sin, 2009). In 1988, he was named the founding director of a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Saudi Arabia, and he promptly traveled to the Philippines to take up the position. Through the IIRO, he channeled funding from Al-Qaeda to the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. (2002) Both Gunaratna and the United States Congress are involved in this (2002). Committee 1267 of the United Nations Security Council maintains a list of individuals who are prohibited from having any connection to the Taliban or al-Qaeda (The United Nations Security Council Committee established in accordance with resolution 1267 (1999) concerning Al-Qaida, the Taliban, and Associated Persons in 2008). Furthermore, the IIRO has offices in Indonesia and the Philippines (Sin, 2009).
In April 2004, intelligence operatives in the Republic of Korea (ROK) identified a network that was first considered to be supporting unauthorized foreign workers in the ROK in finding jobs and engaging in "anti-South Korean" activities. Five Bangladeshis were deported to their home countries as a result of this information. The five deported Bangladeshi men, according to a spokeswoman for the ROK Parliament, were the founders and important players in the 500-member South Korean group Dawatul Islamia of Korea, which is affiliated with the Jama'at-e-Islami-Bangladesh. In October 2004, she alerted the media of this information. (JEI). (B). The US Department of State has designated the Bangladeshi Islamic extremist group Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami as a Tier 2 terrorist organization. The JEIB is a political group that advocates for radical Islam (7). The Anyang Rabita Al-Alam Al-Islamic Masjid, located in a tiny industrial city about 20 kilometers south of Seoul, is reported to have been the headquarters of Dawatul Islamia of Korea (The Korea Times 2004 and South Asia Terrorism Portal). The Anyang Mosque is currently being taken care of by Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh, according to the websites of the Korea Muslim Federation (KMF) and the Korea Islamic Federation (KIF). The KNPA apprehended eight suspects on July 4, 2008, who were smuggling a considerable quantity of acetic anhydride from South Korea to southern Afghanistan: two Afghans, three Pakistanis, and four Koreans (Sin, 2009).
The main Afghan suspect denied being a Taliban member but agreed to follow their orders. The KNPA claims the operation was directed by the Taliban and was sponsored with money from accounts linked to hawala networks. According to the Korean National Police Agency (KNPA), ten Bangladeshi nationals were apprehended on July 19 in Suwon for engaging in a hawala network that handled unlawful money transactions. The KNPA says that this hawala network was in operation from September 2004 to July 2007. When the network was active in the Seoul and Gyeonggi areas, its fictional import-export corporations served over 3,000 consumers (KNPA discovered over 100 accounts linked to these businesses). Over 32,000 transactions totaling $1.1 billion were conducted between Bangladesh and the Republic of Korea (Yonhap News Agency 2007). Hawala networks are widely been active in the Republic of Korea (8). Most immigrants use hawala to send money to family members back home. Unfortunately, some individuals seek to game the system and use it to launder money. For example, American drug traffickers have utilized hawala to transmit funds from foreign drug sales to their armed competitors in other countries. The hawala system could be used by terrorists because it is easy to use and can be used to wash money for a number of operational purposes (Brisard 2002).

8. Conclusions and Policy Recommendations

Young people on South Korea’s multicultural who face a variety of political, social, cultural, and/or economic obstacles are more likely to become radicals than young people who have more access to cultural, sociological, and human capital resources and expect socioeconomic upward mobility. These young people's antipathy against their host community may be justified by relying on widely believed but unfounded social exclusion ideas. This categorization offers numerous reasons for the link between poverty and violent extremism. Hence, while the ROK has not yet been the victim of any "homegrown" or other Islamic-inspired terrorism inside its borders, it is greatly at risk because of significant levels of alienation of migrants, many who lack employment and are exposed to radicalization. Targets for jihadi-Salafi recruiters include migrant laborers who are dissatisfied with their occupations. It is well known that jihadi-Salafis disguise their terrorist operations as legitimate businesses or philanthropic groups. They generate money and train operatives via charitable giving and religious activities; conventional Islamic financial networks (like hawala). Through Islamic charities and religious organizations, money has been channeled to transnational terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. MWL and IIRO have been designated as terrorist-supporting groups by a number of nations and international bodies. Additionally, WAMY, a division of MWL, is thought to be supporting foreign terrorists. Despite not being formally recognized as a terrorist organization or a group that supports terrorism, the JEI(B) seems to have connections to terrorist groups. The mere existence of such groups does not, however, prove the presence of terrorists or those who support them in the ROK. Fundamentalist religious leaders and Islamic extremists have easy access to a sizable pool of young, impressionable, and alienated Muslims because the majority of the ROK's Islamic leaders hold fundamentalist views and because many migrant residents of the ROK experience dissatisfaction and discontent.
Despite the lack of evidence pointing to any recent domestic extremist activity in the ROK, many, if not all, of the required preconditions have already been met, making the prospect of such individuals or groups emerging in the future very concerning. To make it less likely that something like this will happen, the ROK needs to make and implement a policy with two key parts: more awareness of possible terrorist actions and outreach to migrant communities and the ROK population as a whole. Sadly, the ROK currently does not have any comprehensive anti-terrorism laws in force. Since 2001, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) of the Republic of Korea has been pushing for legislation, but it has encountered fierce opposition and criticism because of worries that it would violate people's human rights and give the government excessive authority. Because of the agency's dubious history of defending fundamental liberties, many South Koreans continue to be suspicious of the NIS. Without a doubt, the Republic of Korea requires anti- and counterterrorism legislation in order to be better prepared to prevent, detect, and respond to terrorist activities in the future.
The government of the ROK should keep making changes to and implementing the draft laws it has already passed. It should keep in mind that any such laws must strike a balance between the need to improve the NIS and law enforcement agencies' ability to prevent and respond to terrorism and the rights of all ROK citizens. Initiatives created to connect with immigrant populations are also crucial. The government of the ROK should be commended for its efforts to address the discrimination, physical and verbal abuse, unsafe working conditions, and unpaid wages that foreigners, particularly migrant workers, endure in the nation. Outreach initiatives are also a crucial component of the broader counterterrorism effort, even if they are more likely to be successful with those who are not already radicalized. While all three are critical in the fight against terrorism, "softer" outreach strategies typically outperform "harder" anti- and counterterrorism measures in the long run. Even though it has been shown that many terrorists are educated, middle-class Muslims who become radicalized on their own for ideological reasons, any attempt to deter the public from elements of radicalization would result in a reduced recruitment and support base, making it even more difficult for terrorists and would-be terrorists to operate in a particular area. A future study will examine the empirical context of homegrown terrorism in Korea and the society’s perception of extremism.


1. Anti-Terrorism Act, supra note 1, at art. 2(6) (the condition on the permission of the court remained intact, nonetheless); PCSA, supra note 95, at art. 7.


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