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S. Korea to toughen requirements for controversial entertainment visa

[THE INVESTOR] South Korea will toughen the legal requirements for issuing a controversial visa for foreigners engaging in entertainment and hotel services here, the government said on June 28.

There have been reports that holders of the E-6-2 visa, a requisite for non-Korean residents to perform in hotels, bars and clubs, end up providing sexual entertainment services rather than cultural performances, to eventually become illegal immigrants, according to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.

Plans for rougher requirements was agreed on during an intergovernment meeting presided by Vice Gender Equality Minister Kwon Yong-hyun. Director-general level officials from 18 ministries and state agencies, including the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the National Police Agency took part in the meeting.

For tougher requirements for E-6-2 visa applications, the South Korean Culture Ministry plans to request a minimum of three years work experience in related fields for performance quality, and will screen the criminal records of potential employees.

The Justice Ministry will dismiss the visa application if the workplace has closed-off privacy rooms or does not have an exclusive standby room for performers. The ministry is also considering implementing mandatory interviews for visa applicants from countries with 30 percent or higher rates of illegal immigration, such as the Philippines.

As of the end of March, a total of 4,018 international entertainment workers worked in local performance centers, tourist hotels, bars and clubs here on the E-6-2 visa, according to the government data. By nationality, Filipinos took up the majority at 80.5 percent of E-6-2 visa holders, followed by Ukrainians at 5.1 percent and Chinese at 4.8 percent.

By category of workplace, bars and clubs took up the highest at 78.4 percent, followed by tourist theaters and entertainment companies at 19 percent and tourist hotels at 7.1 percent.

The South Korean government also plans to make periodical on-site inspections on entertainment service providers.

Korea Herald daum