Many South Korean citizens staying in the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang have decided to extend their visa to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic that has become increasingly serious in their home country.
Visa agents in the central hub have reported a sharp increase in the number of South Korean customers who seek visa extension over the past weeks.
According to To My Ro, director of Vietnam Chilli Tour Company (CVD Visa), there has been a 70-80 percent surge in the number of South Korean people signing up for such services at the firm since February 20.
As serious COVID-19 outbreaks were reported in South Korea during this period, they must have decided to prolong their stay in Vietnam for their own safety, Ro elaborated.
“In addition, the Vietnamese government previously suspended visa-free policy for all South Koreans, so they must extend their visas if they want to continue staying here,” she added.
Kim Won Hoon, a 37-year-old man from Seoul who works in Da Nang, said he usually flew back to South Korea once every three months.
However, Kim currently has no intention of returning home because of the ongoing epidemic.
Lee Dong Yul, 37, who works at a local spa, believed that Vietnam has done a very good job controlling the epidemic.
“As there are no new COVID-19 cases in the country, we feel much safer staying here,” Lee explained.
Expressing the same opinion, Yun Sang, a 45-year-old man from Busan who has been in Vietnam for four years, is now extending his visa for another three months.
Despite feeling safe, Yun mentioned his concern over the growing discrimination against South Koreans in the city.
“My wife and I went out for ‘pho’ yesterday and a lot of diners tried to keep a distance from us. It kind of bothered me,” he recounted.
The COVID-19 has killed 3,116 people and infected over 91,300 globally since it first hit the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, according to the South China Morning Post.
The number of confirmed cases in South Korea – the largest cluster of infections outside of China – has exceeded 5,100 as of Tuesday afternoon. The country has reported 28 deaths caused by the COVID-19.
Vietnam has so far confirmed 16 cases of the viral infection, including 13 Vietnamese, one Vietnamese American, and two Chinese.
All of them have fully recovered and have been discharged from the hospital.
The country has reported no new cases since February 13.