Chinese tourists barred from Jeju Island, forced to sleep at airport for 5 days

Updated: 2016-10-09 10:05

(People's Daily Online)

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Chinese tourists barred from Jeju Island, forced to sleep at airport for 5 days

Stranded visitors were confined to a bare room equipped with little more than electrical sockets. [Photo provided by one of the confined tourists]

More than 100 Chinese tourists were reportedly turned away after trying to enter South Korea's Jeju Island during the recent seven-day Chinese National Day holiday, the Beijing News reported Saturday.

Some of the tourists arrived at the airport on Oct 2 and have remained there ever since, undergoing confinement for more than five days. Their activities and movements were largely limited to a room lacking furniture or facilities, with the exception of electrical outlets. The tourists sat and slept on a bare floor, with nothing offered to keep them warm. They ate simple food provided to them by the airport for 50 yuan ($7.50) per meal.

According to the law, Chinese passport-holders can stay visa-free for 30 days in Jeju Island. Nevertheless, a number of cases of border officers denying entry to Chinese tourists have recently been in the news.

One visitor, surnamed Zhang, said he and his wife had signed up to travel as part of a tour group, which arranged their hotel bookings and travel itinerary. Upon arriving at Jeju International Airport on the morning on Oct 6, a border officer refused Zhang and his wife entry, allegedly because they hadn't prepared a hard copy of their hotel booking record. The officer confiscated their passports and their tickets back to China.

“They [the border officers] told us we could either book [an earlier] flight from the same airline back to China, or else wait in the airport for our original flight,” Zhang said.

A visitor surnamed Feng said she and her husband were rejected because they happened to be traveling with another three passengers from the same hometown. The border officer therefore questioned them on suspicion of illegal immigrantion and then denied them entry.

On the afternoon of Oct 7, the Chinese consulate in Jeju told the Beijing Times that they had contacted relevant departments in South Korea to convince them to do something about the situation.