Thai influencer Bew detained in South Korea sparking immigration scrutiny debate

Image courtesy of Sanook.

Popular influencer and Bondi Jelly CEO, Waraphon Piyathansomsin, known as Bew, has been detained overnight in South Korea’s immigration detention centre, drawing extensive online attention. Bew, who has over 700,000 followers, was travelling to South Korea for vacation and wedding dress fitting with her fiancé, who was allowed to pass through immigration. However, Bew was held back, leading to an unexpected night in the cold room.

In her post, Bew described her experience as her first-ever immigration detention, despite having travelled to South Korea almost ten times. The authorities offered no reasons or explanations for the detention. She was put in a room with three to four other detainees.

The conditions were harsh, with everyone sleeping on the hard floor, using a smelly, thin blanket for warmth. The detainees could not take their luggage into the bathroom, leaving them without clothes, face wash, or a toothbrush for personal hygiene.

Bew shared that she filed a protest against her deportation to Thailand and stayed in the room until 8am the next day. However, her appeal was rejected by South Korean immigration, and she was ordered to return to Thailand immediately.

This incident prompted many individuals who had travelled to South Korea to share their experiences, both of passing and failing immigration.

Many speculated that the perception of Thai people as “Phinoy” or illegal workers could be a reason for Thai tourists being especially scrutinised. This has impacted the experiences of those who travelled for holidays or idol concerts and found themselves deported.

At the same time, it is also believed that the discretion of the officers plays a significant part in Thai citizens’ detention in South Korean immigration.

Even with clear evidence showing no intent to work illegally, some people were not listened to by the officers. This includes renowned actress Waranuch Phirmphakdi, known as Noon, who had also previously been detained in South Korea’s immigration, reports Sanook.

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Thailand News

Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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