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Thailand asks S. Korea to toughen K-ETA screening after denied entries of its people

Feb. 22, 2024 - 20:09 By Yonhap
Yoon Chu-sok, director-general for consular affairs and safety at Seoul's foreign ministry, speaks during a meeting with consular officials from Thailand, in Seoul, Thursday. (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thailand asked South Korea on Thursday to toughen the pre-entry screening process for foreign visitors from visa-waiver countries, after a number of its citizens were denied entry into Korea and the incidents stirred public ire.

Thailand made the request to the South Korean side during a director-general meeting on consular affairs between the foreign ministries, held earlier in the day, Seoul officials said.

A number of Thais revealed through some online channels last year their experiences of having been denied the entry into South Korea even though they had obtained the Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) approval prior to their departure.

The postings quickly circulated via social media and caused discontent among the Thai people.

A tougher screening process for the K-ETA approval will allow South Korea to prevent ineligible travelers from entering and reduce the risks of foreigners being denied entry upon arrival, the ministry quoted the Thai officials as saying at the meeting.

Yoon Chu-sok, director-general for consular affairs and safety at Seoul's foreign ministry, pointed out that South Korea is taking every measure to prevent any "good-willed" travelers from experiencing inconveniences.

Yoon expressed hope that South Korea and Thailand will work closely to enhance people-to-people exchanges and friendly relations.

Foreign nationals from countries that have a visa-free agreement with South Korea are required to obtain a K-ETA before their entry. It was introduced in 2021 to offer an expedited entry program. The application involves submitting personal and travel details, similar to the US' ESTA program.