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Seoul Suspends Visa-Free Entry for Countries that Ban Koreans

Written: 2020-04-08 13:12:51Updated: 2020-04-09 17:02:42

Photo : YONHAP News

Anchor: South Korea will temporarily suspend visa-free entry or visa waiver programs for countries imposing entry bans on Koreans amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The decision came as imported cases of the virus now account for a large portion of infections in the country, after it managed to flatten its infection curve.
Kim Bum-soo reports.

Report: The government says, starting from Monday, it will halt visa-free entry for foreign nationals from countries that have imposed entry bans on South Korea amid the pandemic. 

[Sound bite: Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun (Korean)] 
"The fundamental basis of openness will be maintained while restrictions will be strengthened under the principle of reciprocity. For countries that ban our citizens' entry, we will temporarily suspend visa-free and visa-waiver programs, and entry restrictions will be expanded for foreigners traveling for non-essential purposes." 

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Wednesday announced the move, affecting 90 countries including Australia, Canada and Russia, whose citizens had been able to come to South Korea without visas.

A total of 151 countries imposed entry bans on South Koreans when their country saw a surge of infections. Only a few countries, including the U.S. and the U.K. as well as Mexico, still maintain visa-free or waiver programs with South Korea.  

[Sound bite: Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun (Korean)]   
"Starting from April 1, we are carrying out mandatory quarantine for all entering the country. Although most of them are our citizens, including international students, it is burdensome that more than five-thousand people are arriving here every day. Recently, the proportion of imported cases among newly infected patients has reached nearly half. There are also signs the massive outbreak in Europe and the U.S. could reach Asian countries, including Japan." 

As of midnight Wednesday, the total number of coronavirus infections in South Korea stands at ten-thousand-384. More than 45 percent or 24 out of 53 new infections confirmed throughout Tuesday in the country were imported cases. Among them, 14 were detected during airport quarantine procedures upon arrival.  

Earlier this month, the government imposed a mandatory two-week self-isolation requirement on anyone entering the country to prevent a new wave of infections from abroad. Over 40-thousand people are in self quarantine in South Korea, including those observing the self-isolation measure upon entry. 

While seeking to reduce travelers to South Korea by suspending visa-free programs, the prime minister also pledged that the government will strictly enforce social distancing measures at religious facilities and other establishments that attract public gatherings. 
Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News.

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