55 Thai tourists go missing on South Korea’s Jeju Island
South Korean immigration officials said on Sunday that they are unable to track 55 of the 280 Thai tourists who entered the country via Jeju Island earlier this week.
Of the 697 Thai nationals who had taken a direct Jeju Airlines flight to the island between Tuesday and Friday, 417 had been denied entry and flown home, the Jeju Immigration Service said.
Of the 280 Thais who entered the country on a three-day tourism package, 55 have disappeared, officials said, adding that the immigration office is trying to figure out where they went.
The authorities said that 367 of the 697 Thai tourists had previously been denied entry under the Korea electronic travel authorisation (K-ETA) scheme. They said Thai visitors prefer entering South Korea via Jeju as they can enter without undergoing the K-ETA procedure.
Under the K-ETA scheme, citizens from 112 visa-waiver countries, including Thailand, are required to obtain an ETA online before travelling.
However, the Seoul government has exempted foreign arrivals at Jeju International Airport from producing K-ETA documents because Jeju is a popular tourism spot.
The South Korean Justice Ministry said recently that it is pushing for the K-ETA system to be applied to Jeju Island as well.
The country has a long-standing problem with illegal migrant workers, especially Thais. They usually enter South Korea as tourists but pick up illegal jobs as labourers, which can earn them as much as 60,000 baht a month.
The Korea Herald
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