Travel: South Korea stalls visa applications in China


Authorities from South Korea told 52 Chinese travel agencies in the northeastern region to temporarily stop their visa applications in China for Chinese people who plan to go to South Korea, according to a source that has the knowledge of the matter on Monday. There is no exact clear reason for the measure but some Chinese firm officials said it might have something to do with sales of their North Korean package tours.

The data of tourists from the Korea Tourism Organization shows that Chinese tourists are among the frequent visitors to the country, the latest of which was the largest single group so far - 6,000 Chinese tourists from a beauty company who were in the country for a weeklong visit.

As per a report on Yonhap News, there are 123 Chinese tour companies in three northeastern provinces in China that border North Korea, which are visa application service providers for Chinese citizens who want to visit South Korea. Out of these 123, 52 travel agencies were advised by South Korea to temporarily suspend their visa application services from April 16. In China, they are 23 in Jilin province, eight in Heilongjiang and 21 in Liaoning that can provide visa application services until April 15, but not onwards.

"The relevant authorities notified us that we can provide visa application services until April 15 and can't provide the same services from then onwards," a worker in one of the affected Chinese travel companies said. As for the reason, the employee said: "It may be related to sales of package tours to North Korea at a time when the U.N. Security Council resolution is being implemented."

An official from South Korea confirmed that some travel agencies which process their visa applications in China were advised to stop due to issues related to financial stability and illegal migrants.

Early March, tighter U.N. sanctions were implemented in North Korea for conducting its fourth nuke test in January and for launching a rocket in February. An unofficial data said about a hundred thousand Chinese tourists visit North Korea per year.