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South Korea secures entry for business travellers to eight countries

Some 3,020 citizens, including 340 bound for Vietnam, have been cleared for entry following stepped up diplomatic negotiations

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340 South Korean business travellers have been cleared to fly to Vietnam after being tested negative for COVID-19. Credit: Getty Images

SEOUL - South Korea has secured entry ban exemptions for its citizens with Vietnam and seven other countries to allow 3,020 South Korean business travellers to enter their territories.

Vietnam has granted exemptions for some 340 South Korean business travellers, who were scheduled to depart on either of two chartered flights on 29 April. The travellers are employees of 143 Korean firms, including 127 small and medium-sized enterprises, whose companies will foot the cost of the flights arranged by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The employees have tested negative for COVID-19, but will be observing a 14-day quarantine upon arriving in Van Don International Airport in Quang Ninh Province, northern Vietnam.

Since last month, Seoul has stepped up diplomatic negotiation with 21 countries to secure foreign countries to allow essential overseas trips by business people as part of a broader effort to limit the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has carried out negotiations for about 5,600 business travellers.

"The South Korean Embassy in Vietnam has finally gained the approval from the Vietnamese government following continued negotiations with the central and local governments in the country," a foreign ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

"We think that Vietnam has granted the exemptions in consideration of the close economic cooperation relationship between South Korea and Vietnam," the official added.

South Korea is the second largest source of tourists to Vietnam, after China, and a large proportion of Vietnam's outbound traffic is to destinations in South Korea.

President Moon Jae-in, foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha and other top officials have stressed in virtual meetings with their counterparts that responses to the pandemic should not cause unnecessary barriers to international trade and exchanges.