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Passenger travel on S. Korea-China routes at half of pre-THAAD row

Sept. 17, 2023 - 10:11 By Yonhap
Chinese tourists arrive at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, west of Seoul on August 24. (Yonhap)

Passenger travel on air routes connecting to China in August recovered to around half of the 2016 level before Beijing restricted travel to South Korea in 2017 over a row over Seoul's hosting of a US missile defense system, data showed Sunday.

The number of travelers on such routes came to 931,272 in August, which accounts for around 45 percent of the 2.06 million posted in the same month of 2016, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

In 2017, China banned group tours to South Korea in retaliation for the deployment of an advanced US anti-missile system in South Korea.

China pressed South Korea to withdraw the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, claiming that the deployment could hurt Beijing's security interests. Seoul and Washington said the anti-missile system is only meant to counter North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats.

China's tourism authorities, meanwhile, announced the decision to lift the ban on group tours to South Korea in August, ending a six-year hiatus.

Air travel between South Korea and China also has been recovering throughout this year on the back of eased COVID-19 restrictions.

The latest figure marks more than a twentyfold growth from just 43,675 tallied in August 2022. (Yonhap)