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South Korea Lifts Visa Restrictions On Short-Term Travelers From China

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South Korea lifts visa restrictions on short-term travelers from China

(CTN NEWS) – SEOUL – As soon as the COVID-19 situation in China stabilizes, South Korea said it would lift the entry restrictions it has imposed on short-term visitors from that nation since the year’s beginning.

Early in January, South Korea stopped issuing most short-term visas at its consulates in China, citing worries about a viral outbreak and the possibility of new mutations.

In December, China dramatically relaxed its coronavirus travel restrictions, opening the door for millions of Chinese to travel overseas for the first time in three years.

Additionally, all travelers from China, Hong Kong, and Macao were required to provide documentation of negative tests completed within 48 hours of their arrival in South Korea, and they were subjected to additional testing once they arrived.

South Korea lifts visa restricti

A woman walks outside of a COVID-19 testing center at the Incheon International Airport In Incheon, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

The administration decided to normalize short-term visa applications at its consulates in China starting on Saturday after a Friday anti-virus conference.

Although officials warn those steps could subsequently be modified depending on virus advances, the testing requirements were kept.

Except for necessary government, diplomatic, business, and humanitarian activities, South Korea has ceased issuing most short-term visas at its consulates in China; however, it still permitted the extension of current visas.

China’s response to South Korea’s anti-virus measures—which included halting applications for short-term visas—raised commercial fears in a nation that strongly depends on exports to China.

China stated it would likely reciprocate, praising the South Korean action as “a start in the right path towards removing obstacles to people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.”

South Korea lifts visa restricti 1

A sign for the COVID-19 testing center is seen at the Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 10, 2023.(AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Mao Ning, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, said during a daily briefing on Friday that China “would actively examine implementing the reciprocal approach” of resuming the issuance of short-term visas for South Korean individuals.

She used the formal name for South Korea, the Republic of Korea, to say, “We hope the ROK will work with us to provide more convenience for the normal flow of people between the two sides.”

1.4% of short-term Chinese travelers tested positive after arriving, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare, compared to roughly 22% in the first week of January.

Compared to the roughly 140 quarantines at the beginning of January, only eight were still being held at designated hotels as of Friday.

The Health Ministry announced the easing of border controls in a statement that stated,

“the downward trend reflects the change in the COVID-19 situation in China, where signs of a highly contagious onset following the Lunar New Year’s holidays had not been apparent, and the outbreak of new variants has not yet happened.”

South Korea lifts visa restricti 2

Passengers arriving from China prepare for their coronavirus test at a COVID-19 testing center at the Incheon International Airport In Incheon, South Korea, on Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

10,600 short-term visitors from China have undergone airport tests since January 2, and according to data from South Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency, roughly 7% of them have tested positive.

After Beijing stopped issuing new visas in the nation in what appeared to be retaliation.

South Korean officials defended their actions, claiming that the spread of COVID-19 in China was raising concerns about the potential emergence of new variants and that Chinese authorities weren’t transparently sharing infection data.

To prevent a further virus from spreading in China after the Lunar New Year vacation in late January, South Korea had declared it would retain the precautions until the end of February.


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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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