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Culture minister vows to work out measures to reduce side effects of visa-free entry

2018/10/10 14:41

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SEOUL, Oct. 10 (Yonhap) -- The government will examine measures to reduce the side effects of the no-visa entry program it temporarily introduced for foreigners coming to watch the PyeongChang Winter Olympics early this year, the culture minister said Wednesday.

"We'll carefully consider expanding the discussion to include scrapping the system," Do Jong-whan, minister of culture, sports and tourism, said during a regular parliamentary audit of the ministry at the National Assembly. "We will come up with measures to minimize side effects of the program in consultation with the Ministry of Justice."

   Do was responding to remarks from Rep. Cho Kyoung-tae of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party on the urgent need to scrap the system during the audit.

The government allowed no-visa entry for foreign tourists with tickets for the 2018 Winter Olympics in February. It was the first time that South Korea had allowed no-visa entry for an international sports meet in the country.

But the number of foreigners illegally staying in the country after their no-visa permission period expired was 11,635 as of the end of May, the lawmaker pointed out.

"The number of illegal aliens has recently been on the rise to 335,455 as of the end of August, an increase of 33.6 percent from the end of last year," Cho said. "The culture ministry, which asked for the introduction of the no-visa entry program, should show a strong will toward abolishing the system in consultation with the Ministry of Justice," he stressed.

sshim@yna.co.kr

Do Jong-whan, minister of culture, sports and tourism, answers a question from a lawmaker during a regular parliamentary audit into the ministry at the National Assmebly in Seoul on Oct. 10, 2018. (Yonhap) Do Jong-whan, minister of culture, sports and tourism, answers a question from a lawmaker during a regular parliamentary audit into the ministry at the National Assmebly in Seoul on Oct. 10, 2018. (Yonhap)

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