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Korea, China 'in principle' agree on visa exemption for school trips

South Korea and China have agreed "in principle" to exempt visa fees and even the entry visa itself for students on school trips as part of efforts to stimulate personnel exchanges between the two countries, Seoul's foreign ministry said Thursday.

The tentative agreement was reached at a meeting between consular affairs representatives of South Korea and China in Beijing on Wednesday, according to the ministry.

"In response to our proposal asking for an exemption of visa fees for young people on school trips, a move aimed at stimulating personnel exchanges, the Chinese side expressed its willingness to go beyond that and exempt the visa itself if we skip the procedure to confirm the name list of travelers," the ministry said in a press release.

"Both in principle agreed on a visa waiver for students on school trips," it added.

As for China's proposal for a visa exemption for people aged under 18, both agreed "in principle" to seek a common ground through meetings of high-ranking officials down the road.

They also shared the view that it is necessary to revise a visa accord reached in 1998 between the two countries in a way that would improve convenience for travelers by reflecting a spike in people visiting the other country, the ministry said.

Meanwhile, during the meeting, the Chinese officials made clear that Beijing places an emphasis on the safety and legal rights of foreign nationals, responding to Seoul's demand for action to strengthen measures against heightened threats in the China-North Korea region, the ministry said.

On illegal fishing by Chinese boats in the neutral waters of the Han River estuary, China said that it takes the matter seriously and that it is seeking practical and strong measures on the central and regional government levels, according to the ministry. (Yonhap)