Korean vice foreign minister says country has no policy to refuse Thai visitors

By VNA   November 6, 2023 | 10:21 pm PT
Korean vice foreign minister says country has no policy to refuse Thai visitors
A woman skateboards on a shopping street in Seoul, South Korea, July 12, 2021. Photo by Reuters
South Korea's First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Chang Ho-jin said stricter rules may have been enforced by some officers, but the country has no policies to refuse Thai visitors from gaining entry.

At a meeting with the Thai permanent secretary of foreign affairs Saran Charoensuwan last week, Chang said he regrets that its immigration officials have earned a reputation for making such refusal.

Both officials committed to solving their concern relating to tourism and illegal workers.

The meeting was held as the #BanTravellingtoKorea (in Thai) trended on X, formerly known as Twitter, after many Thai netizens including influencers and singers shared their experiences of Korean immigration officers refusing them entry to the country.

The hashtag made the social media site's weekly top 10 after a traveler claimed she had been to South Korea four times but was rejected on her latest attempt despite having a return ticket as well as tour programme and hotel bookings.

Her post on Oct. 24 has received over 9.2 million views and 22,000 reposts, and was followed by posts from other Thais who had the same experiences.

The Korean diplomat said that he regretted such incidents happened and did not want them to affect individual perceptions or the countries' diplomatic relationship.

At the meeting, South Korea's Foreign Ministry also introduced some measures to discourage Thai nationals working illegally in the country.

The measures include the voluntary departure programme that allows illegal workers to present themselves to RoK authorities before being sent back to Thailand without being blacklisted. Another measure is the Employment Permit System (EPS) quota that allows 4,800 Thai laborers to work there legally every year.

Both countries agreed to hold a consular strategic conference to work on the problem further.

Thai Labor Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn sent a notification to the Department of Tourism and the Thai Travel Agents Association (TTAA) to discourage agencies from enabling Thais to work illegally in the South Korea.

He said the ministry estimated that about 100,000 Thai laborers worked illegally in South Korea compared with the 93,118 Thai workers who had obtained work through the government's EPS service.

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