South Korea is a sovereign state in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighboured by China to the west, Japan to the east, and North Korea to the north. With an estimated population of 50 million, it covers a total area 98,480 square kilometres which includes partially forested mountain ranges separated by deep, narrow valleys. Its main exports are wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles and computers. Korea was one nation under the Goryeo and Joseon dynasties until the end of the Korean Empire in 1910, when Japan began a 35-year period of colonial rule. Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers in 1945 and three years later the country split in two, beginning decades of conflict between North and South. The current president of The Republic of Korea (South Korea) is Park Geun-hye. She is the first woman to be elected as President in South Korea.
South Korea eases visa rules to attract more Chinese tourists
South Korea, in an effort to boost its tourism industry, plans to ease visa restrictions for Chinese citizens, particularly those from Beijing and Shanghai.
Starting September 1, South Korea will issue multiple-entry visas to Chinese nationals who are officially registered as living in Beijing and Shanghai, and to those who own timeshares worth 30 million won (HK$208,580) or more in condominium resorts.
Spouses and children of Chinese citizens who already hold a multi-entry visa were also eligible to apply along with current students at China’s top 112 universities, the justice ministry said on Sunday.
The length of the visa issued would depend on how frequently the visitor had visited South Korea in the past, but three- or five-year visas would be the ones most commonly issued, a justice ministry official told the South China Morning Post.
A multi-entry visa holder can stay in South Korea for up to 30 days per visit.
A surge in Chinese tourists, who make up more than a third of all foreign visitors to South Korea, has been the force behind the nation’s tourism boom.
In 2012, 3.74 million tourists from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan visited South Korea, up nearly 30 per cent from the year before, said the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
Seoul said it would also relax multi-entry visa requirements for citizens of other South and Southeast Asian countries, such as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Seoul will also allow medical tourists who are staying at government-designated hospitals to submit visa applications online instead of visiting a South Korean embassy abroad.
Last month, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said tourism was a new growth industry for the country.