Hongkongers will be able to travel to South Korea without a visa again from July 1, more than two years since the visa-waiver programme was suspended in April 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

South Korea Changdeokgung Palace
Changdeokgung Palace in South Korea. Photo: redlegsfan21 via Flickr.

In its latest move to lift travel restrictions, South Korean authorities announced on Monday night that it would resume visa-free entry for holders of Hong Kong and British National (Overseas) passports on July 1.

But travellers must obtain approval through the Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) platform before boarding a flight or a ship bound for the country, the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Hong Kong said.

The electronic authorisation, which will open to Hong Kong and BNO passport holders for application at midnight on June 30, would be valid for multiple trips within two years. The K-ETA application costs KRW$10,000 (around HK$61) and South Korean authorities advised visitors to apply for the K-ETA at least 72 hours before their trip.

On Monday, South Korea reported 9,310 new Covid-19 infections and 12 related deaths. So far, the country’s caseload has exceeded 18 million. Hong Kong, on the other hand, registered 1,327 new cases and one death on Monday.

Hong Kong will join more than 100 countries and territories with which South Korea allows visa-free travel. The country started accepting K-ETA applications to passport holders from a number of places, including Malaysia and Thailand, from April 1.

On June 8, South Korea further relaxed entry restrictions by waiving its quarantine requirement for incoming travellers, including those who were unvaccinated. Visitors who enter South Korea are required to obtain a negative Covid-19 PCR test result taken 48 hours prior to their departure, or a rapid antigen test conducted within 24 hours before departure.

Travellers must do another PCR test within three days of their arrival. Those who test positive for Covid-19 will be placed under quarantine.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.