SEOUL, Sept. 7 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea has begun research into the possible introduction of visa waivers for Chinese on a gradual basis as Seoul’s economic and political ties with Beijing improved drastically in recent years.
The Foreign Ministry has asked a research center affiliated with the International Organization for Migration to write a report on the viability of possibly signing a visa waiver agreement with China for ordinary passport holders, a ministry official said, asking not to be named.
The contract for the report writing was signed last month and the report will be submitted by the end of October, the official said.
South Korea maintains an agreement allowing holders of Chinese passports for diplomats and government officials to stay in South Korea for up to 30 years without an entry visa.
“We are gauging the merits and demerits,” the official said. “We are also sending the message to the Chinese side we are preparing for the possible expansion of visa waivers agreed upon by both countries in a serious manner.”
Critics say the introduction of visa waivers will help increase Chinese tourists, but still cautious about a possible rise in the number of illegal entries of North Korean agents as well as Chinese.
South Korea has continuously made efforts in recent years to relieve visa regulations for Chinese visitors, including visa waivers for Chinese travelers to Jeju Island, a southern resort island.