The number of Chinese visitors to South Korea topped the 400,000 threshold in March for the first time since February last year, rebounding from a sharp fall following a 2017 diplomatic row between the two countries over the deployment of an advanced US missile defense system in South Korea, government data showed Tuesday.
The Justice Ministry said the number of Chinese people visiting South Korea gained 16.5 percent from a month earlier to 427,628 in March. Compared with the corresponding number a year earlier, it showed 13 percent growth.
The recovery of Chinese arrivals to the 400,000 level per month was seen for the first time since relations between South Korea and China were strained following the Seoul-Washington agreement in 2016 to install the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system.
|The arrival gates of Incheon International Airport teem with people on Sunday. (Yonhap)|
The reversal of a declining trend in the number of Chinese visitors came after South Korea and China agreed in late October to normalize bilateral relations after the dispute over Seoul's decision to deploy THAAD. Beijing had banned its travel agencies from selling group tours to its citizens in protest of the deployment, which began in April, dealing a blow to tourism-related industries in South Korea.
In February 2017, the number of Chinese arrivals came to 614,000 before nose-diving to 379,000 and 243,000 in March and April the same year, respectively.
An improvement in the relations of the two neighboring countries, coupled with the PyeongChang Winter Olympics and the Chinese Lunar New Year's Day holiday in February, is believed to have helped more Chinese people make a visit to South Korea.
In March, the entire number of foreign visitors to South Korea soared 29.7 percent from the previous month to 1.39 million on the back of the sharp increase in the number of Chinese visitors.
During the reported month, the number of foreigners residing in the country reached 2.25 million, up 5.7 percent from a month earlier and 10.9 percent from a year earlier. China topped the list of nationalities with a proportion of 45.7 percent, followed by Vietnam with 9.7 percent, Thailand with 7.4 percent, the United States with 6.7 percent and Uzbekistan with 2.9 percent.
The number of foreign students staying in South Korea came to 150,001, topping the 15,000 line for the first time, with the proportion of students from China, Vietnam, Mongolia and Uzbekistan reaching 47.3 percent, 21.3 percent, 5.3 percent and 4 percent. (Yonhap)