Government may push for visa-free entry to South Korea

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Government may push for visa-free entry to South Korea
The Donuimun Village Museum in Seoul features 16 exhibit halls, some of which are experiential for visitors.
Philstar.com / Patricia Lourdes Viray, file

BUSAN, South Korea — The Philippine government is seeking the visa-free entry of Filipinos to South Korea but the increasing number of illegal workers here is preventing that from happening.

Philippine ambassador to South Korea Noe Wong said Filipinos have to secure a visa to enter this country, a requirement not imposed on Koreans who wish to stay in the Philippines for 30 days or less.

"We are trying to raise that issue on a quid pro quo...because almost every time Filipinos here will come, we have to get visa right?" Wong said in a press briefing with reporters here.

"So far, I have no idea yet as to the progress about that. But that is one of the things that we are trying to raise. Why is it that we allow them to do like this?" he added.

Wong said the Philippine tourism department might raise the issue with the South Korean government.

"It's just that I saw the, shall we say, the inequality. I don't know if the term is right...In fact, (there have been) so many complaints about the length of time now in getting visa in the...Korean Embassy...From 15 days to 30 days to even 45 days now,” the Philippine envoy said.

Overstaying Filipinos

But South Korean Ambassador to the Philippines Han Dong-Man said the problem on illegal Filipino workers should be addressed first before the visa requirement can be waived.

"We hope in the near future we will have visa-free policy between Korea and the Philippines but so far, there are quite a number of... illegal numbers of Filipinos in Korea," Han said, adding that the number of undocumented workers is increasing.

"If we decrease our illegal people, naturally, we can have a free-visa policy,” he added.

Han said there are about 15,000 illegal Filipino workers in South Korea. The number is increasing as some workers are tempted to stay even after the expiration of their visas because of the attractive salaries they are receiving.

Many Filipinos work abroad because of poor job prospects in the Philippines.

"Your Department of Justice and also our Korea Department of Justice will try to lower the number of illegal people, so eventually we can have a free visa policy one day," Han said.

With regard to the longer processing time of visas, Han said he has instructed his simplify the requirements so more Filipinos can visit South Korea. He said the Korean embassy in the Philippines receives about 1,500 visa applications daily.

There are about 93,000 Koreans in the Philippines while there are only about 58,000 Filipinos in South Korea. About 1.6 million Koreans visited the Philippines last year but the government wants the number to increase to two million.



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