East Asian countries tend to have restrictionist immigration and refugee policies and restrictionist interpretations of the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees; as a result, the definition of refugee becomes narrow. They also set the bar high to prove that someone is truly an asylum seeker, which, in turn, leads to lower than average recognition rates. For instance, ever since South Korea first started taking asylum claims in 1994, the country has had a 12.4 percent average recognition rate of refugees (North Koreans excluded), compared to the global average of more than 30 percent, according to UNHCR.
South Korea's neighbor, Japan, has the overall lowest recognition rate among developed countries. In 2013, Japan's Ministry of Justice (MOJ) approved only six asylum seekers' applications for refugee status out of 3,777 cases (0.1 percent approval rate), the lowest number in 16 years.