South Korea's justice ministry said Thursday it will allow a special no-visa entry for Chinese who plan to visit the country around the time of next year's PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.
Anyone from the neighboring country who fits the required criteria will be eligible for a 15-day stay in South Korea without a visa, starting Dec. 1 through the end of March next year, the ministry said in a statement.
The no-visa applicant must be a Chinese citizen with records of arrival and departure in and from Korea with a legal visa issued by the Korean authorities in the last five years. The applicant also needs to have an entry ticket to the Olympic Games, purchased through designated Chinese travel agencies, among other requirements.
The applicant's request will be denied if he or she is either convicted of a crime in violation of Korean laws, or holds an extradition record or a history of illegal stay, the ministry said.
The move comes amid signs of a diplomatic thaw between Seoul and Beijing over a prolonged trade spat stemming from Korea's deployment of the THAAD advanced US missile defense system.
Beijing had banned its travel agencies from selling group tours to its citizens in protest of the deployment, dealing a blow to tourism-related industries in Korea. But following the summit earlier this month between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, Korea seems to be getting back on track with its Chinese tourist tallies.
The justice ministry also said it will temporarily allow individual Chinese tourists to land here by ship next year, on top of groups from cruise ships already being permitted into the nation. Additionally, the ministry said the length of stay for cruises entering ports near PyeongChang during the games will be extended to five days from the current three days. (Yonhap)