The Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea is working with local authorities on a case in which about 100 Vietnamese citizens could not be contacted after their entry into the country as tourists, Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced.
The foreign ministry’s spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang made the announcement in response to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper’s request for a comment about a post on social media on October 22 by some Vietnamese communities in South Korea saying “120 Vietnamese could not be contacted after entry into South Korea.”
The post regarded the contact loss as the reason for South Korea’s airlines Fly Gangwon earlier informing its travel agents and partners about its temporary suspension of receiving registrations by Vietnamese passengers for travel to Yangyang International Airport in Gangwon Province from October 23 to 31.
The carrier said the suspension was aimed at serving “the local authorities’ re-arrangement of the granting of visas to Vietnamese travelers making entry at the airport after the trial period.”
Immediately after the post, the Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea contacted the South Korean authorities to verify and seek more details about the case, Hang said.
After about 100 Vietnamese citizens made entry into South Korea at the said airport, they could not be contacted, the spokeswoman said, citing initial information.
“Therefore, airlines and related travel agencies must suspend bringing tourists to Yangyang County of the province until the end of October 31,” Hang confirmed.
The embassy is coordinating with South Korean authorities to search for those Vietnamese and it will promptly take measures for citizen protection when necessary, she added.
The ministry’s Department of Consular Affairs are working with domestic agencies concerned and relevant travel companies to get further information about these citizens.
When asked by Tuoi Tre about the fact that a number of Vietnamese people have overstayed their South Korean visas for illegal work after they entered the country as tourists, Hang said the ministry will join other agencies in preventing the law-breaking practice.
Earlier on Monday, the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) in Vietnam confirmed that the visa-free policy intended for Vietnamese tourists entering South Korea via Yangyang International Airport would continue to be applied as normal.
The confirmation came after Fly Gangwon announced its temporary suspension of travel registrations by Vietnamese passengers as mentioned above.
KTO commented the statement by Fly Gangwon, which has recently launched direct flights between Gangwon’s Yangyang County and Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, has caused misunderstandings about the visa-free policy offered by the Gangwon authorities and the South Korean government in general to Vietnamese travelers.
According to KTO’s explanation, such suspension, which will last until October 31, is meant to apply only to tours on the direct routes operated by Fly Gangwon, not to other cases.
The visa-free policy has been applied since June 1, 2022 to Vietnamese travel groups of five members upward who enter South Korea via Yangyang International Airport and to tours that last a maximum of 15 days organized by designated travel firms.
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