More than 1,100 foreigners sought refuge in Korea last year but a majority of them were still awaiting a decision on their status, data showed on Friday.
According to the Ministry of Justice, a total of 1,143 people applied for asylum in the country in 2012, up nearly 13 percent from 1,010 a year ago
The number of asylum seekers stood at 148 in 2004, but jumped nearly sevenfold in the past six years, passing the 1,000 mark in 2011.
The ministry said that since 1993 when Korea joined the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees, 5,069 foreigners have filed a claim for refugee status in the country.
By nationality, Pakistanis accounted for almost 20 percent of the total number with 978, followed by Sri Lankans and Nepalese with 612 and 440, respectively.
But the data showed that only a total of 320 were granted refugee status, while the remaining people who were either refused or still waiting for their claims were living on no support here.
Meanwhile, the government earmarked 2.07 billion won ($1.9 million) this year to increase support for the asylum seekers, including building a new shelter that can accommodate 400 people, the ministry said.
By Oh Kyu-wook (email@example.com