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Angolan family in South Korea airport for nine months win court fight

A boarding gate at Incheon International Airport

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The family arrived at Incheon International Airport in December 2018

An Angolan family trapped in a South Korean airport for the last nine months can finally apply for asylum following a high court ruling.

The Lulendo family say they travelled to South Korea because they were being persecuted for their Congolese background in Angola.

But officials refused the parents and four children permission to apply for asylum as they disputed their claim.

Unable to enter the country, the family have been stuck since December 28.

Immigration officials at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport suspected Nkuka Lulendo and his wife of having other economic motives, and denied them the chance to apply for refugee visas, according to local media.

But in a video interview from June with new media company Asian Boss, Mr Lulendo said he was “sabotaged” for his Congolese roots.

He was working as a taxi driver in Angola when his car smashed into a police jeep. He had swerved in order to avoid crashing into pedestrians, he said.

“They [police] put me in jail on the spot – without any trial,” he alleged in the interview. He added that he had been “mistreated” and “tortured” during the 10 days he spent in jail. .

Mr Lulendo says he is a member of a community which has argued for several years that they are being discriminated against by Angolans over their Congolese heritage.

The South Korean high court’s ruling in favour of the Angolan family overturns a lower court’s decision, which sided with immigration authorities.

“It’s meaningful that the court acknowledged the family’s right to have their refugee application considered,” lawyer Lee Sang-hoon, who represents the family, told Yonhap News Agency.

“We hope this ruling will also change the society’s misconception of asylum seekers.”

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