The Korean government plans to expand its current customized Chinese visitor visa service and expand the scope of its e-Visas to include Chinese tour group travelers from January next year.
Launched in 2013 to attract foreign talent and medical tourists, Korea’s e-Visa scheme has been extended to Chinese tour group visitors this year through a trial scheme implemented by an authorized agent appointed by the Korean consulate in China.
From April 20, the Korean Ministry of Justice plans will also consolidate individual multiple-entry tourist visas to five-year validity, instead of offering validity options of one year, three years and five years.
Visa eligibility will also be extended to those aged under 17 and above 60, and those with a college degree and undergraduate students of four-year tertiary courses. Up to 635 million people are estimated to be eligible for Korean visas.
The number of visas issued by the Korean consulate in China has increased 107% in two years, from 1,596,039 in 2012 to 3,313,208 in 2014. Meanwhile, the number of Chinese visitors to Korea more than doubled from 2,015,011 to 4,280,035 visitors during the same period.
A spokesman of the Korean Ministry of Justice said: “The size of China’s middle class will rapidly grow from around 300 million people at present to 600 million people in 2020. We will continue to expand eligibility for the multiple-entry visa and actively attract middle-class Chinese to Korea.”
The Korean Ministry of Justice will set up visa application centers in Qingdao and Guangzhou from July to specifically handle applications and payments for individual tourist visas and expedite visa processing.(Translation by David)