Jeju denies entry to 100 Chinese tourists

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/9 0:13:39

Immigration checks tightened as crimes, overstaying rise

More than 100 Chinese tourists were reportedly denied entry into the South Korean resort island of Jeju, and asked to stay in a designated waiting room at the island's airport for various reasons during China's National Day holiday, which was from October 1 to 7.

The island, based on information from the immigration service, has tightened its border inspection as a result of several criminal incidents last month which involved Chinese nationals, as well as an increase in the number of overstaying Chinese tourists over the years, Wei Lijiao, a media officer with the Consulate General of China in Jeju, told the Global Times on Saturday.

The exact number of tourists denied entry during the "Golden Week" and of those who were asked to remain in the special waiting room is still unclear, said Wei.

According to Wei, over 70,000 Chinese tourists flocked to the island during the "Golden Week."

It is up to the Korean side to allow or refuse entry, said an employee with a Beijing-based travel agency. "The inspection is normally very relaxed and the denial this time may be due to the recent tightening of the policy."

The employee added that as long as a tourist can provide valid flight tickets and hotel booking sheets at the border control, there is usually no problem.

According to The Beijing News on Saturday, the rejected tourists were asked to stay in a shabby "tiny dark room" with doors shut and no beds or blankets were offered. Meals were priced at 50 yuan ($7.5) per person.

Reasons for the denial of entry include failure to provide "booking letters for hotel reservation" and suspicion caused by the facts that "a lot of tourists are from the same hometown," said the report.

As to how long the Chinese tourists will have to stay at the airport depends on the availability of return flights and seats, given the holiday rush and the fact that some airlines only operate two flights per week, Wei explained, adding that "in Korean culture it is very common for people to sleep on the floor."

Jeju began to implement a visa-free policy for Chinese in 2008. According to Yonhap News Agency, Chinese tourists made up 85.3 percent of the 2.6 million foreign visitors to Jeju in 2015.

However, the number of tourists being rejected entry to the island reached 7,664 in 2015 and swelled to 8,589 so far this year.

Some South Koreans in September demanded that visa rules be tightened for Chinese visitors to Jeju after a Korean woman was attacked by a Chinese tourist and succumbed to her injuries, Yonhap reported.

Newspaper headline: Jeju denies entry to 100 Chinese

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