SEOUL (Reuters) – China has suspended issuing short-term visas to South Koreans in response to Seoul’s imposition of travel restrictions on Chinese travelers over Covid concerns, the Korean embassy said on Tuesday. Beijing.
“Chinese embassies and consulates in Korea will suspend the issuance of short-term visas for Korean citizens,” the embassy in Seoul said, adding that the measures would be “readjusted in accordance with the South Koreathe removal of discriminatory entry restrictions on China.”
Seoul last month imposed a wave of restrictions on travelers from China, including visa restrictions, testing requirements and some flight limits, citing a rise in Covid-19 infections.
Seoul has also capped flights from China, and travelers from the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau must test negative before traveling and are tested again upon arrival.
Those who test positive must quarantine for a week, authorities said.
China does not currently issue tourist visas and requires a negative Covid test for all arrivals.
A Chinese national who tested positive upon arrival in Seoul refused to self-quarantine and fled, sparking a two-day manhunt that made headlines in South Korea.
Police eventually tracked down the Chinese national – who was not identified, but described as a medical tourist – who will be questioned this week over the offence, local media reported.
According to official figures, 2,224 Chinese nationals on short-term visas have landed in South Korea since Jan. 2, of whom 17.5 percent tested positive upon arrival.
South Korea also limited the issuance of short-term visas to Chinese nationals, excluding government officials, diplomats and people for critical humanitarian and business purposes, until the end of January.
Other restrictions include reducing the number of flights from China and requiring all flights from the country to land at Incheon’s main international airport in South Korea.
South Korea’s southernmost Jeju Island, which has its own international airport and separate visa entry regime, was a popular tourist destination for Chinese arrivals before the pandemic.
Seoul is “inevitably strengthening some anti-epidemic measures to prevent the spread of the virus in our country due to the worsening Covid-19 situation in China,” Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said last month when announcing the measures.
Chinese hospitals have been overwhelmed by an explosion of cases after Beijing began lifting tough controls that had torpedoed the economy and sparked nationwide protests.
For 2019 and 2020, Chinese tourists accounted for the largest proportion of all foreign tourists visiting South Korea, accounting for 34.4 percent and 27.2 percent respectively, according to official data from Seoul.
But the number of Chinese tourists dropped significantly last year – from 6.02 million in 2019 to 200,000 from January to November 2022 – accounting for only 7.5% of all foreign tourists, the South-South Ministry said. Korean Culture at AFP.

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