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Archive for South Korea

Newsline: China to resume issuing short-term visas for South Koreans starting Feb 18

China plans to resume issuing short-term visas for travellers from South Korea on Saturday, the Chinese embassy in Seoul said on Wednesday, after South Korea lifted similar visa curbs last week citing an improved COVID situation in its neighbour. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/china-resume-issuing-short-term-visas-south-koreans-starting-feb-18-2023-02-15/) China halted issuing short-term visas to South Koreans last month, a retaliatory move after South Korea had imposed a number of COVID restrictions on travellers from China following Beijing’s abrupt ending of its “zero-COVID” policy. Seoul had planned to impose visa curbs until end-February but restarted issuing visas last week, saying the number of infections among Chinese arrivals had dropped significantly.

Newsline: South Korea, Iran summon each other’s ambassadors

Iran and South Korea summoned each other’s envoys in a deepening spat over comments by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol that described the Islamic republic as the enemy of the United Arab Emirates. Yoon, speaking to South Korean troops stationed in Abu Dhabi earlier this week, said South Korea and the UAE are under “very similar” circumstances, each facing North Korea and Iran as “the enemy, biggest threat.” Yoon’s office has said his comment was intended as words of encouragement for South Korean soldiers while the foreign ministry said on Thursday it had repeatedly offered explanations to Tehran. Unappeased, Tehran summoned South Korean ambassador Yun Kang-hyeon on Wednesday, warning that bilateral ties could be reviewed if the issue was not resolved, according to a report from Iran’s official IRNA news agency. Iran’s deputy foreign minister for legal affairs, Reza Najafi, told Yun that Iran has “deep-rooted and friendly relations” with most neighbours. He described Yoon’s comment as “interfering”, adding that Yoon was “undermining peace and stability in the region,” the report said. Hours later on Thursday, South Korea’s foreign ministry said its vice minister Cho Hyun-dong had called in Iran’s ambassador in Seoul, Saeed Badamchi Shabestari, to complain about Najafi’s remarks. The ministry said Najafi had made a “completely groundless” claim that Yoon had hinted at developing a nuclear weapon. (https://neuters.de/world/south-korea-envoy-iran-summoned-over-yoons-enemy-remarks-media-2023-01-19/) Relations between Seoul and Tehran had already been testy over frozen Iranian funds in South Korea and suspected arms dealings between Iran and North Korea.

Newsline: South Korean embassy says two citizens on passenger list of jet that crashed in Nepal

Two Koreans seem to have been aboard a passenger aircraft that crashed in a resort town in Nepal, Seoul’s embassy in the Himalayan country said Sunday. “Two South Koreans are on the list of passengers. We are trying to confirm whether they were actually on board and their identities,” an embassy official said. (https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2023/01/281_343631.html) In Seoul, the foreign ministry said local embassy officials have been dispatched to the site to handle relevant affairs. All 72 passengers and crew members were killed in the crash of the plane near Pokhara International Airport, according to a news report.

Newsline: South Korean top diplomat calls China’s visa suspension ‘deeply regrettable’

China’s recent decision to suspend the issue of short-term visas in South Korea was “deeply regrettable”, the South’s Foreign Minister Park Jin said on Wednesday. “It’s deeply regrettable China took such a countermeasure by entirely suspending issuance of short-term visas,” Park told a news briefing, adding that South Korea still issues visas to Chinese visitors for urgent business or humanitarian purposes. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/south-korea-calls-chinas-visa-suspension-deeply-regrettable-2023-01-11/) Tuesday’s suspension by the Chinese embassy in South Korea was China’s first retaliatory move against countries imposing COVID-19 curbs on its travellers. Last week, South Korea ordered a PCR test for travellers arriving from China, joining a growing list of nations adopting border curbs amid concern over infections, after China abruptly ended its stringent “zero-COVID” policy.

Newsline: Chinese embassy in Seoul suspends visas for South Koreans

The Chinese embassy in South Korea has suspended issuing short-term visas for South Korean visitors, it said on Tuesday, the first retaliatory move against nations imposing COVID-19 curbs on travellers from China. The embassy will adjust the policy subject to the lifting of South Korea’s “discriminatory entry restrictions” against China, it said on its official WeChat account. Beijing retaliated on Tuesday against South Korea’s COVID-19 curbs on travellers from China, while state media further downplayed the severity of the outbreak in the last major economy to reopen its borders after three years of isolation. Although China imposes similar testing requirements for all arrivals, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters on Tuesday the entry curbs for Chinese travellers were “discriminatory.” “We will take reciprocal measures,” Wang said, without elaborating. (https://neuters.de/world/china/covid-wave-past-its-peak-many-parts-china-state-media-2023-01-10/) Kyodo news agency, quoting multiple travel industry sources, said China has told travel agencies that it has stopped issuing new visas in Japan. An AFP journalist tweeted that the Chinese embassy in Japan released a statement confirming the curbs on Tuesday but removed it from its website within minutes.

Newsline: South Korea’s foreign ministry lashes out at Japan’s island claim

South Korea issued a strong protest against Japan’s territorial claim over disputed islands made in a national security strategy released on Friday while cautiously responding to Tokyo’s plans for an unprecedented military buildup. South Korea’s foreign ministry on Friday demanded an immediate removal of the territorial claims from Japan’s national strategy documents, saying in a statement that the move did nothing to help “building a future-oriented relationship” between the two countries. (https://neuters.de/world/asia-pacific/south-korea-protests-japans-island-claim-national-security-strategy-2022-12-16/) The foreign ministry later said it summoned a senior diplomat from Japan’s embassy in Seoul to lodge the protest. The islands known as Dokdo in Korea and Takeshima in Japan are controlled by Seoul with a small contingent of coast guards. In a separate statement, the foreign ministry said it hoped the implementation of Japan’s new security policy will be transparent and contribute to regional peace and stability while continuing to uphold the spirit of is pacifist constitution.

Newsline: South Korea’s top diplomat seen seeking to reassure Beijing over U.S. ties

South Korea foreign minister Park Jin is set for his first visit to China on Monday as President Yoon Suk-yeol’s government seeks to reassure Beijing about their relationship despite stronger ties with the United States and tensions over Taiwan. Park is scheduled for a three-day stay in the eastern port city of Qingdao, during which he will hold talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Seoul’s foreign ministry said. Park is the first high-level official to travel to China since Yoon took office in May. His trip comes after Beijing expressed outrage over U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last week. China claims the self-governed island as its own. Yoon faced criticism from lawmakers – some from his ruling party – for not meeting with Pelosi. Yoon, who was on vacation, held a phone call with her instead. His office said that the decision was made in consideration of national interests, and that there was no pressure from Beijing. (https://news.yahoo.com/first-visit-china-south-korean-051732340.html) Stakes are high for Park’s visit, as Seoul walks a fine line between its alliance with the United States and with China, South Korea’s top trade partner, amid their intensifying rivalry.

Newsline: South Korea’s top diplomat to visit U.S. amid election uncertainty

South Korea’s top diplomat plans to visit Washington next week, officials said on Thursday, as Seoul pledged a solid alliance with the United States regardless of the presidential election results. South Korea’s foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha will arrive in Washington on Sunday for a four day stay, the ministry said. The trip came at the invitation from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who cancelled his planned visit to Seoul last month after Trump tested positive for the coronavirus. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-southkorea/south-koreas-top-diplomat-to-visit-u-s-amid-election-uncertainty-idUSKBN27L0AF) The ministers will hold a meeting over bilateral and regional issues including stalled talks aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes in exchange for U.S. sanctions relief. Despite uncertainty over the U.S. election, South Korea’s presidential Blue House said it would maintain the “solid” alliance whoever wins the White House.

Newsline: Lawmaker says missing North Korean diplomat has settled in South Korea

A former senior North Korean diplomat who disappeared from his country’s embassy in Italy in 2018 has settled in South Korea, a lawmaker in Seoul said on Tuesday. Jo Song Gil, who was North Korea’s acting ambassador to Italy, disappeared with his wife after leaving the embassy without notice in early November 2018, and his whereabouts have been unclear since. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-southkorea-diplomat/lawmaker-says-missing-north-korean-diplomat-has-settled-in-south-korea-idUSKBN26R2EY) In a post on Facebook, Ha Tae-keung, a South Korean opposition party lawmaker who sits on parliament’s intelligence committee, said that Jo had settled in South Korea last year under the protection of the government.

Newsline: South Korea, New Zealand spar over diplomat in sex harassment case

South Korea and New Zealand are at odds over the case of a South Korean diplomat who has been accused of groping a New Zealand staff member at Seoul’s Embassy in Wellington. The New Zealand government has called on South Korea to waive the man’s diplomatic immunity, but Seoul has agreed to cooperate on the grounds his immunity not be waived, South Korean news service News 1 reported. South Korea’s foreign ministry told reporters on Monday the two countries have been in communication over the case. Seoul will work with the New Zealand government if it requests investigation under the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and extradition. (https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2020/08/03/South-Korea-New-Zealand-spar-over-diplomat-in-sex-harassment-case/6671596458162/) New Zealand has urged Seoul to do more, however. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has “expressed her disappointment that the Korean Government was unable to waive immunity to allow aspects of the police investigation into this matter to proceed,” the prime minister’s office said, according to the New Zealand Herald on Sunday. Ardern recently conveyed her opinions in a phone call with President Moon Jae-in. The diplomat, a former deputy ambassador to New Zealand, has been charged with three counts of sexual misconduct that took place in 2017. The plaintiff in the case, a male employee at the embassy, is currently receiving support from MOSAIC, an advocacy group for male sex abuse survivors, according to the report.