South Korea may introduce visa-free policy for Filipinos, says envoy

BUSAN — South Korea may extend visa-free privileges to Filipinos once steps are taken to reduce the estimated 15,000 “illegal” Filipinos living in the country, according to the South Korean ambassador to Manila.

“We hope in the near future we can have a [visa-free] policy between Korea and the Philippines but, so far, there are certain numbers of illegal Filipinos in Korea,” Han Dong-man told visiting Filipino reporters here on Sunday.

Han said there were 15,000 undocumented Filipinos living or working in South Korea, a number that was “increasing.”

Earlier on Sunday, Noe Wong, the Philippine ambassador to South Korea, said the Philippines was trying to negotiate a reciprocal visa deal for Filipinos to rectify the “imbalance” in visitor exchanges between the two countries.

“We are trying to raise that issue on a quid pro quo [basis] because almost every time Filipinos come here, we need to get a visa,” he told a separate briefing.

Wong said there had been informal discussions about a reciprocal agreement between Manila and Seoul on visa-free privileges.

Koreans are the top tourist arrivals in the Philippines and they do not need

waiver program with another Southeast Asian country, Thailand.

“Accordingly there are many, many Thai people staying illegally [in South Korea],” he said.
“That’s why our basic policy is instead, if the Philippines decreases [the number of illegal people], naturally you can have [visa-free] policy,” Han said.

Simplifying requirements
The South Korean Embassy in Manila is working to simplify the visa application process for Filipinos, he added.

“There are many delays in issuing visa, so I asked my staff in charge of visa to facilitate, to simplify the visa documents, so more Filipinos will be able to visit Korea,” he said.

“But every day we receive 1,500 applications. We will try to bring more waiver program with another Southeast Asian country, Thailand.

In a separate briefing, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Mr. Duterte would press for a peaceful resolution of the Korean conflict during the summit.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and Korean Ambassador Han Dong-man answer questions from the media ahead of the 30th Asean-ROK Commemorative Summit in Busan, South Korea, on Sunday, November 24, 2019. Pathricia Roxas/


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