Foreigners including Filipinos can visit the island of Jeju in South Korea without a visa. They can stay in the island for up to 30 days. While this is convenient for legitimate tourists, there have been a number of foreigners who have taken advantage of the no-visa-entry policy.
Tourist buses in Jeju – 2013[/caption]
Last week, a group of Chinese tourists assaulted a Korean restaurant owner. The middle-aged woman ended up in the hospital with brain hemmorhage, according to news reports. In the same week, a Chinese tourist allegedly murdered a senior citizen Korean woman who was praying inside a church in Jeju-do. The citizens of Jeju-do are alarmed at the increasing crime rate. Authorities said that about 70% of the crimes related to foreigners involved the Chinese. They make up the biggest number of tourist arrivals in the island.
There is currently an online petition asking the autonomous government of Jeju-do to scrap the visa-free entry for foreigners. When foreign tourists were allowed to come visit the island for 30 days with no visa, tourism increased by rapidly. An estimated 2.86 million Chinese visited in 2014 compared to 69,000 in 2003.
In July 2016, about 400,000 foreign tourists visited the island. It is unfortunate that crimes increased too.
Meanwhile, the online petition has so far attracted about 15,000 petitioners. The target is 100,000 online signatures. The person who started the petition argues that the safety of the citizens is more important than the number of tourist arrivals. If the visa-free entry is halted, it might affect foreign tourism in the island. Of course, the citizens should have a say in the goings-on in their place. Local tourists still make up the majority of tourism in Jeju-do.
Jeju is one of the most beautiful places in Korea. I have only visited the island once and it exceeded my expectations. I haven’t posted my trip there ~ hopefully before the year ends 🙂