SEOUL, Mar. 5 (Korea Bizwire) — Despite deteriorating relations between Seoul and Tokyo, the number of Japanese visitors to South Korea increased by nearly 33 percent over three recent months government data showed Tuesday.
The Ministry of Justice said a total of 773,000 Japanese nationals entered South Korea between last November and January this year, marking year-on-year growth of 32.9 percent.
Japanese nationals posted the biggest increase rate among visitors from major countries, it noted.
Chinese arrivals increased 28.5 percent to 1.27 million in the same period, the ministry said, noting Chinese accounted for 33 percent of all foreign visitors during the three months.
Visitors from Taiwan rose 15 percent to 271,000 in the period, it said.
According to the ministry, 81.7 percent of foreign visitors said tourism was the purpose of their entry into South Korea, up by 21.9 percentage points from a year earlier.
Seoul-Tokyo relations have recently chilled due to a military spat involving Japanese military aircraft’s menacing low-altitude flybys close to South Korean warships and diplomatic tension over South Korean court rulings last year against Japanese firms for wartime forced labor.
“Most Japanese visitors are tourists. The number of Japanese arrivals has not changed much despite diplomatic conflict between the two countries,” a ministry official said.
Likewise, a growing number of South Korean tourists are visiting Japan these days.
According to Japanese government data, the number of foreign visitors to Japan rose 7.5 percent on-year to an all-time high of 2.69 million in January this year. South Koreans accounted for 779,400 of them, the data showed.