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South Korea mulls visa on arrival for Indians

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New Delhi: South Korea is mulling visa on arrival for Indians after its nationals were given a fast-track electronic travel permit by New Delhi earlier this year. South Koreans account for a fifth of e-visa recipients for India.

South Korea’s Ambassador to India Joon-gyu Lee said Seoul was closely looking at a scheme for Indians similar to that India extends to their nationals. “While doing so we will do our best to improve the visa issuing process to facilitate and speed it up,” he said.

India’s decision on e-visa for South Koreans has seen an exponential rise in visitors from that country. “I believe that the visa-on-arrival scheme provided for our citizens is contributing a lot in increasing the number of Korean tourists into India,” the envoy said.

The Indian government extends its electronic travel authorization (ETA) scheme to 76 countries. Official data shows that in January, inflow of tourists from the Republic of Korea constituted 18.26 per cent of the total arrivals using the facility.

Its nationals were its second largest users after the US, Russia, Ukraine and Australia.

Data with the Indian embassy in Seoul, shows that more than 100,000 Koreans visited India in 2013 to mainly visit the Taj Mahal in Agra, Jaipur and various Buddhist sites. Agra, Jaipur and Delhi form what is called the golden triangle of Indian tourism, accounting for 40 per cent of tourists.

“The visa-on-arrival has definitely eased the travelling for South Korean nationals. Of course, a similar scheme for Indians will create an impact in the inflow of tourists to Korea,” said Byungsun Lee, director with the Korea Tourism Office in India..

Lately, there has been a 20 per cent increase in Indian visitors to South Korea. As per official data, 147,736 Indians went to the East Asian nation in 2014, up from 123,235 visitors in the year before. (IANS)

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Korea To Survey Railways That Were Cut During The Korean War

The projects are among many agreements reached between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

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Korea, Railways
A South Korean train transporting South Korean officials runs on rails that lead to North Korea inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea. VOA

A South Korean train entered to North Korea on Friday as the two countries began inspecting northern railways tracks they hope to relink with the south.

About 30 officials from each side will participate in an 18-day joint survey of railways tracks cut since the Korean War.

“We will maintain close consultation with related nations so that the project to connect the South and North’s railways could proceed with international support,” South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon said during a ceremony at Dorasan Station near the border.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae. VOA

The Koreas, however, cannot proceed much further with the project without the removal of U.S.-led sanctions against the North.The U.S. has said the sanctions will remain until North Korea takes convincing measures toward full denuclearization.

The UN Security Council granted exemptions to sanctions last week, allowing the implementation of the cross-border infrastructure project.

Also on Friday, the North and South militaries completed removing 20 front-line guard posts and land mines from a border area where they plan to start their first-ever joint search for remains of soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, according to an official from Seoul’s Defense Ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Also Read: North Korea Open To Nuclear Site Inspection: Report

The projects are among many agreements reached between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their three meetings this year, as part of a diplomatic initiative that eased tensions over the North’s nuclear program. (VOA)