In terms of bilateral relations and agreements, South Korea is among the country’s favorites. This is why a lot of job opportunities for Filipinos are available in South Korea. Even though that’s the case, a visa is still required from a Filipino to enter South Korea even for just a couple of days.
But according to Han Dong-man, South Korea Ambassador to the Philippines, Filipinos might soon have a visa-free South Korean entry privilege. Han said that because of the growing number of illegal Filipino settlers in their country, they might soon introduce a visa-free South Korean entry for Filipinos.
We hope in the near future we can have a [visa-free] policy between Korea and the Philippines but, so far, there are certain numbers of illegal Filipinos in Korea.”
Han said that an estimated 15,000 Filipinos are in South Korea, illegally. This figure is a combination of either working or living in the country. In addition, Ambassador Han said that this number is increasing on a daily basis.
Filipinos to apply for a South Korean visa
Even if South Korea is one of the best friends of the Philippines, aspiring workers and immigrants are expected to apply and obtain a South Korean visa first. The process, normally, can take place for more than a month under regular circumstances.
Noe Wong, Philippine Ambassador to South Korea, said that the country is trying to balance out a deal with South Korea; a deal that would reciprocate the visa-free entry of South Koreans to the Philippines.
Doing this, according to Wong, would straighten out the “imbalance” in the exchange of tourists and visitors between the Philippines and South Korea.
In a separate briefing, he said that they’re working on an agreement about Filipinos not being required of a visa.
We are trying to raise that issue on a quid pro quo basis; because almost every time Filipinos come here, we need to get a visa.”
Lengthy South Korean visa process
We all know why we’re all excited with the idea of a visa-free South Korean entry. Wong mentioned that there seems to be a bit of “inequality” about Koreans entering the country without a visa.
He added that he has heard a lot of complaints about the process; complaints about the process being slow and lengthy.
It’s just that I saw the, shall we say, inequality. I don’t know if the term is right, because there’s no need for visa for them to go on a specific time. And in fact, I hear so many complaints about the length of time now to get a visa from the South Korean Embassy, right? From 15 days to 30 days to even 45 days now.”
How would South Korea implement a visa-free policy to the Filipinos?
Two words: Illegal settlers. Because of illegal settlers, South Korea couldn’t decide to impose a visa-free entry for Filipinos.
In a discussion, Han said that the South Korean government may consider a visa-free South Korean entry if the number of illegal Filipinos in South Korea will be reduced. He also said that Thailand also has a fair amount of undocumented people there, too.
Accordingly there are many, many Thai people staying illegally in South Korea. That’s why our basic policy is instead, if the Philippines decreases the number of illegal people, naturally you can have visa-free policy.”
Wong, however, said that he is unsure whether or not President Rodrigo Duterte will be bringing this issue up during the Summit.
Martin Andanar, Presidential Communications Secretary, however, said that our dear President would be arriving in the Summit to talk about advancing the interests of the Filipino public and, of course, regional security.
The President has repeatedly said that he does not want to have a conflict on the Korean Peninsula. We’re talking here of nuclear arms and nuclear power. . .We are so close to South Korea.”
He even said that “it’s not just the Philippines that will be affected, it’ll be the whole world.”
Hopefully, a resolution on having a visa-free South Korean entry for Filipinos will be concocted. If this were to become effective, it will be a guarantee that thousands, if not millions, of Filipinos, would be visiting South Korea at an instant.
What do you think about having a visa-free South Korean entry for us? Could this help Filipinos in traveling to South Korea more?