Hanoi police have arrested three people linked to a suspected human smuggling ring that sent at least 30 Vietnamese to South Korea to work illegally in January.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Tam, 38, Nguyen Trong Tuong, 34, and Le Thi Tuyet Hanh, 35, are being investigated for allegedly running the ring and helping the workers enter and stay in South Korea. The crime can be punished by jail terms of up to 12 years.
According to investigators, a total of 163 Vietnamese people visited Jeju Island in South Korea on January 12 as tourists.
Soon later, 59 of them reportedly disappeared from their hotel in Jeju. Many of them then managed to find jobs with the help of other Vietnamese.
South Korean police have deported 34 so far.
Most of these deported workers confessed they had hired some Vietnamese people to arrange for them to enter South Korea under tourist visas and work illegally there.
Investigators found the trio charged each person between US$5,000 and $12,000 in the case.
According to Korea Tourism Organization, around 170,000 Vietnamese tourists visited the country last year, up 20 percent from 2014.
There were 4,353 tourists reportedly left their tour and illegally stayed on the island last year. In 2011, there were only 282 cases.