Have you ever heard of a “begpacker”? This is a new word combining meanings of ‘beg’ and ‘backpacker’, referring to foreign travelers who beg for money to finance their trips on the streets. The act of begging by foreign tourists has emerged as a new problem since last year, as a number of begpackers have been spotted at major tourist attractions in Seoul. Critics say that regulations for those begpackers should be put in place as soon as possible, as such actions from them are dangerous that they will cause social confusion.
Begpackers have been recognized at first as a kind of cultures that began with the aim of traveling penniless. However, the begpackers in Korea has caused much controversy over the legitimacy of such begging acts. First of all, it is an illegal act in violation of the Immigration Control Law for foreigners who enter Korea through tourist visas to engage in profit-making activities without paying taxes. Negative cases of doing an excessive act to attract people's attention have also continued to occur, both at home and abroad. In February this year, a Russian couple traveling to Malaysia's capital of Kuala Lumpur shocked the world as the inhumane acts they did while begpacking were revealed on a social media. They wanted to attract the attention of locals by creating a dangerous situation in which a four-month-old child was thrown into the air just to earn more travel expenses. Begpacking also has the problem of causing conflicts with local citizens. Citizens complain of inconveniences in traffic because their begging is mostly done on the streets near tourist attractions with a large floating population. In fact, complaints are said to have occurred several times on June 16th at Seokchon Lake, located in Songpa-gu, as the main passageway was blocked by two foreign travelers' begging behavior. According to railway police officials, however, no proper crackdown is currently being carried out on such begpackers. This is because begpackers are not only continuing to move elsewhere, but there is also a lack of local police personnel in charge of them.
Recently, there have been a growing number of begpackers begging for travel expenses in Korea. As such illegal deeds are feared to escalate into social chaos, government-level active measures need to be taken. This requires a specific legal basis for a particular field, ‘the Begpacker’, and sufficient police force to manage them. If Korea's begpacker problem is solved through these efforts, it could lead to a desirable travel culture across the entire world.
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