South Korea has installed a full-body scanner each at Gimpo, Gimhae and Jeju airports and is now undergoing a month-long test of the system to screen departing passengers passing through these air terminals.
The installation of the scanners went ahead despite an appeal from the country’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to ban the use of the devices over concerns about privacy.
The upgrading of the security systems at South Korea’s international airports is being done in preparation of the G20 Summit in Seoul in November. Primary international gateway Incheon International Airport will also have three full-body scanners in its premises (see news). Each scanner is estimated to cost between KRW240 million (US$198,600) and KRW290 million (US$239,975).
“Given the time it takes to train workers and test the devices, full-body scanning will begin around the end of the month,” officials at South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs told local news media.
The Ministry allayed fears of privacy violation with assurances that faces and other portions of the body on images captured by the scanners are being blurred, and that there is a separate room so the staff cannot see the people being scanned while the security officers at the gates can not see the scanned images.
The Ministry added that the full-body scanners “will be used only on passengers who have been flagged in the preliminary security check or those who are on the ‘blacklist’ of airline security threats”. Passengers who decline to be scanned have the option of being manually searched.