Incheon Airport, the main international hub in South Korea and an institution that many Koreans take a lot of pride in, is suffering from huge delays for foreigners going through immigration :
“However, according to the Immigration Office, the extra booths have to remain shut because of the lack of personnel needed to run them.
According to the Immigration Office, there is a shortage of immigration officials, with just 668 personnel in 2015, up just 10 percent from 589 in 2001, when the Incheon airport first opened.
In contrast, the total number of people arriving and departing through the airport increased by 180 percent, from 17.59 million people in 2001 to 44.88 million people last year.
The immigration official added, ‘We work overtime hours and are not able to eat our meals regularly, yet we are always short of hand.’”
If only there was an incredibly obvious way to solve this problem, such as hiring more customs officials.
Anyhow, it’s nice to know I wasn’t imagining things since the last few times I went through Incheon internationally. I used to happily zoom through customs, but starting about two years ago I figured I just had the bad luck to come in during peak hours (going out is still pretty smooth).
And there’s this:
“A large reason behind these delays has to do with several cases of illegal immigrants attempting to break into the country earlier this year.
In January a Chinese couple was arrested after sneaking into the country through Incheon airport. That same month, a Vietnamese man illegally entered Korea through Incheon airport by pretending to be a transfer passenger heading to Japan.”
OK, but if you have a solid, forward-thinking security system in place to start with you won’t have these problems, and you won’t have to resort to that most Korean of problem-solving techniques — constant ad hoc-isms that just manage to confuse everybody and solve nothing.
Also, the Korean government is under no obligation to maintain it’s historically high level of customer service by hiring an adequate number of clerks. If it wants to let Incheon turn into LAX or (god forbid) JFK, by all means allow your main airport to shrivel into a miserable hell-hole.
But that would be a shame.