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PM vows to tighten airport security

All News 15:29 January 31, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn said Sunday he will work out measures to strengthen security at South Korea's main airport in the wake of a series of security breaches there.

"Keeping the nation's main gateway is tantamount to defending the country, and we can never accept any behavior that poses a threat to its safety. The government will engineer double or triple security and anti-terrorism measures," Hwang said during an emergency meeting of Cabinet ministers related to the issue at the main government building in Seoul.

South Korea should push for thorough measures to beef up immigration management and security to prevent any recurrence of security lapses, he stressed.

The meeting came a day after police said they found a warning message written in Arabic inside a box discovered at Incheon International Airport.

The message, written on a sheet of paper half the size of A4, read: "This is the last warning to you. God will punish."

It was not a handwritten but a printed sentence with some grammatical errors, according to the police, who suspected that it could have been translated by a computer program or by a person with poor Arabic skills.

A day earlier the police found a box suspected to contain explosive devices in a men's bathroom in the airport. No explosives or detonators were found, just two butane canisters taped to a water bottle, according to the police.

Seoul's main gateway was named the world's best airport for the 10th consecutive year in 2015 by Global Traveler, a U.S. magazine for business travelers.

Still, the airport has been under public fire for security breaches.

On Friday, a Vietnamese man illegally entered South Korea at the airport.

Police have yet to find the 25-year-old transfer passenger who forced his way out of the gate of an unmanned automatic immigration checkpoint in the airport.

Last week, a Chinese couple illegally sneaked into South Korea without being noticed by immigration officials or checked by the airport's security control system.

They were apprehended earlier this week by the immigration authorities in Cheonan, about 90 kilometers south of Seoul, before being taken into custody.

Hwang also called for the early parliamentary passage of an anti-terrorism bill, saying that the recent spate of incidents show that South Korea is no longer safe from terrorist attacks.

"Prevention is the best way to cope with terrorism and for this we need to secure accurate information... But South Korea does not have a proper anti-terror law," he said.

"Lawmakers need to approve the anti-terrorism bill as early as possible to solve the problem from a broader point of view, without attaching their political interests."

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