110 Thais on one flight denied entry into South Korea

A total of 110 Thai tourists on a single flight were denied entry into the South Korean island of Jeju and sent back to Thailand yesterday, according to the Korea Times. Since Korea’s post-pandemic “reopening,” a crazy 50% of all Thais arriving in South Korea have been rejected at the border, according to reports.

Of the 184 Thai nationals aboard a Jeju Airlines flight from Bangkok to Jeju Island yesterday, 125 were “re-examined” at immigration. A total of 110 were denied entry and flown back home to Thailand last night. Immigration did not provide details or reasons for denying their entry, said the Korea Times.

South Korea opened up to tourists with no quarantine – regardless of vaccination status – on July 25. However, South Korean immigration is stricter than ever. Since Korea’s post-pandemic “reopening,” 10,000 Thai people have travelled to South Korea. Over 5,000 of them – 50% – have been rejected and sent home, according to Daily News.

Why? The country is cracking down hard on illegal migrant workers. The number of Thais working legally in South Korea is around 18,000. The amount of Thais illegally working in South Korea is thought to be as high as 140,000.

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In 2022 alone, 10,377 Thai people found working illegally in South Korea were deported.

At present, all foreigners are required to obtain a K-ETA or a visa to gain entry into South Korea. Non-Korean nationals going to South Korea for tourism, business meetings, discussions, conferences, short-term study with a stay below 90 days, and family visits should apply for K-ETA online at least one week before arrival.

If your purpose of visit is not covered under the K-ETA, or your nationality is not eligible for a K-ETA, you must apply for the appropriate visa.

The Korea Times did not say whether the rejected Thais had a K-ETA or the correct visa, but it is probably safe to assume that 110 people on one flight weren’t so ill-prepared to have neither. So, the real reason for their denied entry is unknown.

The Thaiger will contact Thai passengers on the flight and ask for comments about their experience.

SOURCE: Korea Times, DailyNews

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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