American with a possible criminal record in Korea - can I get a visa to Taiwan?

I’m an American living in Korea who is currently caught up in a legal matter. I took a picture of someone at the gym because I thought they were being a bit of a vapid twat (making poses in front of the mirror in high heels while filming themselves, possibly for Instagram or TikTok). Yes, I was very rude and inconsiderate for thinking that about someone I don’t know, and by taking pictures of them, it was actually I who was the idiot AND a jerk on top of that. I shouldn’t have done what I did. Anyway, they saw me and now they’ve accused me of taking illegal photos with a camera.

In Korea, it is illegal to photograph someone without their consent, even without criminal or sexual intent, so long as the person says they feel “sexual shame” from it. Several lawyers and legal consultants have stated that the criteria for what qualifies as causing shame is NOT directly stated in the law, so it is entirely feelings-based and open to interpretation - courts have been inconsistent in previous rulings. This is a full-body photo with no criminal intent of someone doing poses in a public place in front of mirrors, but so long as she says she feels shame, it is illegal unless her feelings can be disproven. I had to pay her a settlement fee to drop the charges (common procedure in Korea for a wide variety of charges - someone accuses you and you pay a settlement for charges to be dropped because of the high conviction rate for many charges), but the prosecutor and/or courts can still choose to punish me if they wish - or they could drop the case entirely.

It could either be a suspension of prosecution (no record), or a fine. If the fine is above $3000 then that’s deportation, but I’ve been reassured by several lawyers that won’t happen. I could have trouble renewing my visa though. If a fine is issued, it will be expunged from the public Korean police check in two years (unless you check the box saying to show expunged offenses), but it will remain in internal police and immigration records.

As said, I am sincerely sorry for what I did, and for how my selfish and stupid “look at this vapid TikTok person” thoughts, not to mention by careless actions, resulted in this whole situation.

I lived in Taiwan before and would like to live there again. I have no criminal record in the US, Taiwan, or Japan, where I also lived once. When I lived in Taiwan before, I moved there from Japan and Taiwan didn’t directly ask me for any records from Japan. Of course, maybe that’s because I didn’t have a record in Japan.

Will I be able to move to Taiwan after this? Will Taiwanese authorities know about this record if its not in my home country? How about if two years pass and the fine (if one is actually issued, I don’t know) is expunged from public records? If it is known to them, am I auto-denied?

If it’s expunged, then it won’t show up in a check. Right?

My guess is “yes” no problem.

Wonder what @yyy would say?


Additionally: I do not know what kind of line of work you do, but there seems to be a strong demand for English teachers right now, with demand exceeding supply. If you can arrange the visa (no small matter!), and handle the quarantine regulations (still in place), now’s as good a time as any to come to work in Taiwan.


If the prosecution is not suspended and a fine is issued, it only gets expunged from public records after two years. It would still be in the internal records of Korean police and immigration (so if I visited Korea in the future, it would pop up in their system). There’s also the issue of having to check “Yes” on the “do you have a criminal record” question on the visa application. If I said no, wouldn’t they be able to check?

I think your goal, primarily, is to keep anything out of official recordkeeping. Or at least if asked, to be able to present a record with nothing on it. That will be the least-risky option.

If a record is actually expunged. Then I believe you don’t have to answer yes. I know in Canada if you have a record suspension, then you don’t have to answer yes and simply take and use the paper that shows you have no record.

Countries don’t often share info without an agreement and won’t know until an admission or finding out some other way. This is why Canadians that wait until their record is suspended to enter the US face almost no issues in entering while people who have admitted wrongdoing remain inadmissable without special permission even if the record is suspended.

I don’t think they will ask for your Korean documents, but I would keep quiet. And maybe buy a clean passport if you can. I am not a lawyer. If you need legal advice, I can guide you to someone who can give advice.

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Bad advice

I would think it wouldn’t be high, but they tried to make it a sexual offense (even though, as said, full-body photo in a public place, no sexual intent, no private areas revealed or focused on, etc.) due to her claiming shame. That’s where my concern comes from. I do actually have the photo in question (which I will NOT show to anyone except for legal purposes, as I don’t want to risk making things worse) just in case, but the charge still has me on edge.

I can’t control what the outcome is even though she dropped charges. If they want to make an example, they can still punish me regardless, albeit with “leniency” (maybe $1000 fine…) because of the dropped charges…or they could just decide it’s not worth their time and drop it altogether. It’s really tormenting me, and I’ve got to plan for the worst just in case.

Ultimately though, how are they even going to find out about it?

Whenever I’ve applied for things that required a background check, I just submit my home country. I can’t be expected to go back to every country I’ve lived in in the last 10 years and ask for a report!


I’m curious. Why did you take the picture? What was your intent?

Not the question, not the topic.

At my end, I can say I’ve been pissed enough at people to take their photos when they are doing (what I perceived to be) dumb sh&t.

It’s unfortunate the OP got caught in a web of what seem to be poorly designed South Korean laws to stop sexual harassment.


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When you submit your passport to the NIA and TECO. They’re going to see where you actually lived.

I don’t know if that would trigger questions. I’ve never lived anywhere outside of Taiwan except Canada.

It is a question. The OP can answer it or not.

In my day, we’d watch someone doing something douchey and then just talk shit about him or her later. No need to run out and have film developed. Have the young folks externalized their memories? :grandpa:

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Why so much 𝖗𝖊𝖕𝖗𝖊𝖘𝖘𝖎𝖔𝖓? :dvd:

That’s if you submit passports already with stamps on them… if you have a clean passport with no stamps, then probably not.

But Canada immigration seems rather onerous because they require a background check from every single countries that you have been to for more than 6 months ever since you turned 18. For some this could be very onerous.

But Canada also recognizes suspended offenses, whereas the US does not care. An offense stays on record forever even if expunged.

First, Spivvy mentioned buxiban teaching. There is a requirement for a criminal record check in the Supplementary Education Act, but this is education law, not immigration law, so whether or not you qualify for a visa/entry/ARC is a separate question. There are several threads about this issue (for buxiban teachers). Here’s the relevant text of the law. “Good conduct certificate” means criminal/police record check.

SEA Art. 9 Par. 4


Before hiring or employing any faculty or staff member, a short-term tutorial center shall submit to the competent educational authority of the appropriate special municipality, county, or county-level city basic information including the relevant name list, diplomas and certificates documenting education and professional experiences, photocopies of personal identification documents, and attach a criminal record certificate issued by the police within the last three months. If the faculty or staff member to be hired or employed is a foreign national, when initially applying for the work permit for the first time, the center shall also attach a certificate of good conduct certificate issued by the country of issuance of the foreign national’s passport. The competent educational authority of the appropriate special municipality, county, or county-level city shall take the initiative to verify the documentation and may send personnel to conduct a check. The same procedure shall apply when there is any change to a faculty or staff member.

Clearly, this is another example of everything-in-its-right-place syndrome, like the whole thing about your passport proving what your native language is. :wall:

As for the Immigration Act

IA Art. 7

I’m not sure where they keep those regulations. I suspect this case would not qualify as a “major” crime, but I can’t say that with certainty.

IA Art. 18

Presumably, if there is no criminal record (as opposed to an administrative or civil penalty), but they still somehow found out about this incident, they could still exclude OP on the basis of Par. 1 Subpar. 14 or even Subpar. 13 (“good customs” is actually 公共秩序 i.e. “public order” which iiuc includes sex crimes).

When it comes to issuance of an ARC, they have similar criteria.

IA Art. 24

Note that the only-one-foreign-country loophole for criminal records doesn’t exist in the Immigration Act.

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I was thinking public system too, not just buxibans. :slightly_smiling_face:


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In that case, it should be noted that the requirement in the Supplementary Education Act does not apply to non-buxiban jobs, but of course a school might have its own similar requirement.

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I believe his/her intent was to mock the person in his/her social media.

Karma, right?

Depends. Younguns these days do the camera thing. Take a picture, move on. It’s bizarre.