If you are planning to go on a trip anytime soon but are unsure of where to go, maybe a little enticement from the South Korean Embassy can help make up your mind and get you packing ASAP.
Recently this year, during the 70th anniversary of Filipino-Korean diplomatic ties, South Korean Ambassador Han Dong-Man stated how just in the past year alone half a million Filipinos visited South Korea. Mr. Han also stated how, in an online article he wrote in March for the Philippine Star, “we [the Philippines and South Korea] need to keep enhancing our mutual understanding in order to enrich our countries’ relationship in the next 70 years.”
In line with this, South Korea has just recently relaxed their country’s visa requirements for Filipinos and has made the application process much easier as well. For starters, one can now apply for the visa through one’s respective travel agency without having to exactly go to the South Korean Embassy situated in Fort Bonifacio. All Filipinos are also eligible to apply for the express visa which shortens the waiting period down to two days (excluding the time spent submitting the visa requirements).
Back then, the shortest waiting time was three days for those travelers who have already visited any OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) affiliated country within the last five years upon applying. The rest had to wait at least five days. Although, it is very important to keep in mind, as mentioned in one traveling website, that this express visa requires an additional non-refundable P1,000 fee “regardless of the outcome.”
Additionally, the required visa documents have now been lessened especially for Filipinos with qualified professions such as doctor, lawyer, media or having a government-rank. Filipinos falling under this category are also eligible for multiple-entry visas that can last for five to ten years. Those qualified for the multiple-entry only need to submit a certificate of employment and, as of May of last year, the South Korean Embassy have been requesting only this from those employed at the select top 100 companies in the Philippines as well as the certificate of enrollment from students studying at the top 10 universities in the Philippines. Nonetheless, South Korea is still looking into expanding the scope of those Filipinos who can get multiple-entry visas. They also clarified that visa requirements still differ depending on the current occupation of the applicant.
South Korea has also increased the scholarships they are offering to those Filipinos who wish to study in their country. Mr. Han stated how just as there are numerous Koreans who end up going to the Philippines for academic purposes then Filipinos, too, must be given opportunities to experience their country firsthand by being able to study there.
All of these have been implemented to highly encourage even more Filipinos to come and visit their country. In general, visits to South Korea has drastically increased in the past couple of years especially with the increased interest and popularity of K-beauty/skincare, K-dramas, Korean movies, Korean food as well as Korean groups like global phenomenon BTS. Tourists the past couple of years have also been statistically seen to be primarily in their early 20s and visited the country due to the Hallyu Movement. Being well aware of these increasing interests and curiosities from people all over the world, South Korean tourism organizations have even managed to incorporate certain Hallyu-related things into their advertising. A perfect example of this is the Seoul Tourism Organization getting BTS as their honorary ambassadors and releasing a promotional song recorded by the group. Upon the day of the song release, fans and curious people alike raced to STO’s website in order to download the audio file thus causing the entire website to crash due to the sheer volume of people visiting all at once. Talk about great promotional strategy.
So if you just so happen to be Filipino and are a big fan of things like K-pop or K-beauty or you just need an easy place to travel to soon, well, what are you still waiting for? South Korea, here we come!