The beautiful scenery of Gangwon-do in winter. (Bilong/Epoch Times)
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HONG KONG—Traveling from Hong Kong to Korea and vice versa just got easier due to the two governments’ promotion of immigration e-Channels, allowing many people to get through customs in just 16 seconds.
E-Channels are self-service kiosks that read travelers’ identity documents and fingerprints at border control points. Used in Hong Kong since 2004, they are now open to Hong Kong people who want to visit Korea and Koreans traveling to Hong Kong.
With the coming holidays, it will soon be the peak season for Hong Kong people traveling abroad. The e-Channels will make it even more convenient for those who want to ski and shop in Korea this year.
Korea is the first country to let people from Hong Kong use its e-Channels. It is believed that the convenient e-Channels will attract more Hong Kong people to Korea, which has been vigorously promoting tourism and trying to understand what attracts Hong Kong tourists.
For the convenience of travelers from Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Immigration Department is negotiating with several European and Asian countries over the bilateral use of e-Channels.
Hong Kong citizens who hold SAR passports and are traveling to Korea can start registering to use the automatic kiosks as early as Dec. 12, shortening their immigration clearance time to as little as 16 seconds. At the same time, Korean passport holders can also register to use e-Channels in Hong Kong.
Use of e-Channels is free, and the authorities have guaranteed that they will not disclose relevant personal information.
Currently, about 1,000 Hong Kong people travel to Korea every day, and 3,000 Koreans visit Hong Kong. The Korean government predicts that there will be 20,000 South Koreans using this service at the beginning of the new plan.
Online registration to use Korean e-Channels opened up on Dec. 12 to Hong Kong citizens over 17 years old who hold valid Hong Kong SAR passports, have previously used Hong Kong e-channels, and have no criminal record in Korea.
Similarly, visitors over 17 years old who hold valid Korean passports, are current members of the Smart-Entry Service of Korea, and have a clean record in Hong Kong can register at the Hong Kong government’s website. They will know the same day if they are approved, and they will have to undergo an official registration procedure upon arrival in Hong Kong.
Korea has become a popular travel destination for Hong Kong people in recent years, local travel agents report. Hong Kong people flock there to go skiing in winter, and they also very fond of Korean cosmetics. Korea’s Gangwon-do Province will host the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, which is expected to be popular with ski-lovers from Hong Kong.
As for Koreans who visit Hong Kong, the main attraction is Hong Kong’s gourmet food, followed by shopping.
Translated by Y.K. Lu. Written in English by Sally Appert.