The People’s Court in Da Nang City, located in central Vietnam, on Saturday sentenced a 39-year-old woman residing in southern Dong Nai Province to three years behind bars for attempting to arrange the travel of six Vietnamese people to South Korea as tourists with the aim of hiding in the Northeast Asian country.
According to the indictment, in 2019, Le Thuong Thuong, through a broker named Phu with unknown identity, agreed to help Tran Huy Chuong, residing in Ha Tinh Province, north-central Vietnam, travel to South Korea as a tourist for VND100 million (US$4,100).
Chuong planned to illegally stay in South Korea if he could successfully enter the country.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic hindered Thuong from going ahead with the plan.
Early last year, Phu introduced Tran Thi Thanh, Dang Huu Tuan, Nguyen Van Giap, Tran Dinh Can, and Tran Dinh Chung, all residing in Ha Tinh Province, to Thuong so that she would help them travel to South Korea and be holed up in this country.
Thuong would earn VND100-110 million ($4,100-4,500) from each person.
From January 8 to October 27, 2022, Thuong received a total of over VND588 million ($24,132) from the five people.
Thuong created a group chat on messaging app Zalo to instruct the five how to deal with the security force at airports in Vietnam and South Korea, such as wearing polite and luxury clothes, using high-cost suitcases, showing confidence, and answering that they were employees of H.V. Company and were traveling to South Korea as tourists if being questioned by security officers.
Thuong knew that people from Ha Tinh Province would get the attention of the South Korean police and find it harder to enter the Northeast Asian country, so she asked the five to send her photos of their passports.
Thuong later asked a friend to change the place of birth in the five's passport photos from Ha Tinh to Ho Chi Minh City.
On November 9, 2022, Thuong asked another friend to book a tour to Jeju Island in South Korea. She sent the photos of the five people’s passports to an employee of a travel company in Da Nang and paid tour costs totaling VND57 million ($2,339).
The five departed at Da Nang International Airport but were captured at Jeju International Airport due to the difference in their passport photos and their passports.
The South Korean police refused their entry and transferred them back to Da Nang.
Thuong later gave herself up to police officers.