55 Thai tourists go missing on South Korean island
Fifty-five Thai tourists, out of a total of 280, who had entered South Korea earlier this week through the airport on the southern island of Jeju have gone untraceable, immigration officials said.
According to the Jeju Immigration Service, out of 697 Thai nationals who arrived at the Jeju International Airport from Bangkok through a direct Jeju Airlines flight between Tuesday and Friday, 417 were denied entry and were flown home.
Of the other 280 people who have entered the country for a three-day tourism programme, 55 have broken away from their tour groups and disappeared, Yonhap News Agency quoted the officials as saying.
The immigration office said it was trying to figure out where they went.
Officials said that many Thai tourists chose to enter South Korea through Jeju as they have a record of being denied entry through other airports, including the country's main gateway, Incheon International Airport.
Out of 697 tourists, 367 of them, or 52.7 per cent, previously were denied entry under the Korea electronic travel authorization (K-ETA), authorities said.
They appear to have chosen Jeju as they can enter without the K-ETA process.
South Korea currently operates the K-ETA under which citizens from 112 visa-waiver countries, including Thailand, are to obtain the ETA online before travelling.
However, the Seoul government has exempted foreign arrivals through the Jeju International Airport from the K-ETA, taking into consideration that the island is a tourist spot.
The Ministry of Justice earlier said it is pushing to adopt the K-ETA system on the island of Jeju as well.
(With inputs from IANS)
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