You’ve probably seen the articles on social media trumpeting the news that South Korea will be offering visa-free entry to tourists from the Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam. According to these posts, said tourists will be able to visit Pyeongchang until April 2018 without a visa if they enter through the YangYang International Airport.
It’s exciting news, however, after calling the Embassy of the Republic of South Korea in the Philippines, we’ve gathered that it has not yet been confirmed that Filipinos will be given visa-free entry to South Korea as part of the Pyeongchang Winter Games. As of now, the only South Korean location Filipinos can visit without a visa is still Jeju island.
The confusion apparently arose from articles citing a report from the Yonhap news agency. However, a search of the news agency’s website only turns up a report saying that the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) recommends that the country should allow visa-free entry for visitors from Southeast Asian countries.
The recommendation comes after the KCCI pointed out that tourist visits to South Korea during the January-September period fell by 23.5 percent compared to the same months last year. The report cites diplomatic tensions between Seoul and Beijing as a major factor in the drop.
The KCCI suggested visa-free entry as a solution, citing Japan’s move in 2014 to allow visa-free entry to Indonesians who hold e-passports. It also used Taiwan’s granting of visa-free entry to Filipinos as an example. The KCCI also suggested an itinerary focused on winter sports would be appealing to tourists from Southeast Asia, which may have contributed to the false impression that visa-free entry would be given to travelers heading to the Pyeongchang Winter Games.
Does this mean that visa-free entry to South Korea will not be available? Not necessarily. In the same phone call, the Korean Embassy in the Philippines said that any changes to the visa process would be announced on their website, so look out for any announcements.