Many countries are working to evacuate people from Afghanistan as the country is under attack. According to the Pentagon and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health, there have been multiple bombings outside Kabul’s airport in which at least 60 persons have lost their lives. The security conditions are continuing to worsen as the Taliban retake power and U.S. troops have been withdrawn.
As a result, countries, including South Korea, are helping to the best of their abilities. On Thursday, 390 Afghan refugees with their families arrived in South Korea in two groups via a military aircraft. The next day, they were admitted to the National Human Resources Development Institute, a temporary shelter in Jincheon, a North Chungcheong Province county. It is located about 57 miles (91 kilometers) outside of Seoul.
South Koreans are showing their gratitude and support for Jincheon hosting Afghan refugees with their available resources. As soon as the refugees arrived, traffic on Jincheon Mall (also known as JC mall), a non-profit organization operated by the county office, increased greatly.
It turned out that many were purchasing from the website, which primarily sells agricultural products and specialty items “from the central rural county,” such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and rice. According to country officials, the website became “paralyzed” due to large numbers of orders and ultimately posted a notice on Sunday. They revealed that they had received approximately 1,500 orders since Friday, which is “more than 20 times higher than the usual weekend orders.”
In order to avoid delays in delivery as much as possible, we have inevitably decided to temporarily stop receiving orders. Most of Jincheon Mall’s products are produced from time to time rather than being sold with a large amount of inventory prepared. Orders have already exceeded our daily production capacity.
— County Office notice
Due to the overwhelming support from fellow citizens of South Korea, Jincheon Mall had to close the website from accepting any more incoming orders temporarily. They had already exceeded the daily production capacity.
Since Friday, we have received 1,500 orders in 48 hours, which was 20 times larger compared to ordinary weekends. The temporary suspension of the operation became necessary due to a delay in deliveries. We will resume operation at 10 a.m., Thursday.
— Official from Izensoft (software company that runs the online mall)
In addition to the increase of orders made through the website, a county office official said they received many thank you messages.
Usually, Jincheon Mall received 30 to 35 orders a day. Following news of the Afghan refugees’ arrival in Jincheon, its orders surged beyond capacity.
This isn’t the first time that Jincheon Mall received an increase in sales from fellow citizens. After 200 South Korean evacuees from Wuhan, China, arrived during the COVID-19 outbreak, the same amount of support was returned to the county for its assistance.
The Ministry of Justice has revealed some of their efforts in helping the Afghan refugees during their stay in South Korea. For two weeks, they will be quarantined at the Jincheon facility. Following that, they will receive classes, including Korean language and cultural education, for six weeks to help their transition in living in a different country.
South Korea is predominantly in favor of aiding Afghan refugees’ journey to a safe and healthy life. According to Ealmeter‘s survey, 68.7% agreed with the government’s design to grant visas to the refugees to allow them to continue living in Korea.
At this time, The Ministry of Justice has granted short-term C-3 visas as the Afghan refugees are “persons of special merit.” Additionally, they are in the process of making changes to “the enforcement ordinance of the Immigration Control Act” so that they can provide evacuees with F-2 visas that enable holders to work and live in Korea for up to five years. They will also be given the opportunity to apply for F-5 visas, allowing permanent residency.