Jun. 6 – Mongolia and South Korea signed an agreement to streamline the visa process for each other’s citizens in a bid to boost people-to-people exchanges and economic cooperation between them, officials said.
The agreement was signed in Seoul last Thursday after talks between Mongolian Foreign and Trade Minister Gombojav Zandanshatar and his South Korean counterpart Kim Sung-Hwan.
“The agreement will grant the nationals of the two countries multiple-entry visas valid for a maximum of five years if they meet the required conditions, and exempt them from visa fees,” the South Korean Ministry Spokesman Cho Byung-jae said.
According to this agreement, citizens with an ordinary passport will be granted a multiple entry visa for up to five years, to be exempted from visa fees. Visa service fees are currently being issued.
If a person loses their ID or other documents, they will be allowed entry without re-granting a visa, or an extension of the visa free of fees.
Transit travelers will be allowed to stay up to 72 hours in the country without a visa if a natural disaster occurs and to extend the entry time up to 90 days for a non-resident who holds a diplomatic passport.
The two sides also agreed to continue the agreement signed in 2004 to allow citizens with ordinary passports up to 30 days in the country who have traveled more than four times a year.
South Korea had already expressed that it is ready to put this into effect while the Mongolian Government still needs to approve it, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Mongolia.
In addition, according to the signed documents, South Koreans who are long-term residents of Mongolia will no longer have to obtain an exit-entry visa for a temporary trip out of the country.
Mongolia and South Korea established diplomatic relations on March 26, 1990.
South Korea is the largest labor market for Mongolians. Estimates suggest that 38,000 to 40,000 Mongolians currently live and work in the Republic of Korea. At the same time, compared to other Asian countries, Mongolia has a relatively small overseas diaspora.
The government of South Korea estimates that one out of every two urban households in Mongolia has a family member working in South Korea.
According to South Korean government figures, 40 percent are residing in the country illegally; other estimates of the proportion of illegal migrants run as high as 70 percent.
Most Mongolians in South Korea are migrant workers employed in heavy industry. Some also run small restaurants, trading companies, and grocery stores in Seoul.
Aside from migrant workers, Mongolians come to South Korea to pursue higher education –around 2,000 Mongolians annually. Remittances from Mongolians working in South Korea have become an important source of income to this nation of 2.7 million.
Mongolian women also come to South Korea as the brides of men they met through international marriage agencies; their average age is just 24.9, whereas that of their husbands is 44.5, and many are more educated than their husbands, according to the figures of Asian Workers News.
Mongolia’s trade with South Korea has almost quadrupled over the last decade and Asia’s fourth biggest economy is now the third largest trading partner of the resource rich country after China and Russia.
According to the Foreign Investment and Foreign Trade Agency of Mongolia, South Korea is the 4th largest investor in Mongolia with total FDI of over US$255 million since 1990.
South Korea is also a key donor who has provided approximately US$137 million since 1990 in committed loans and grants to Mongolia.