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Ministry urges Beijing to avoid 'improper' measures against Koreans amid coronavirus outbreaks

All Headlines 16:32 February 28, 2020

By Song Sang-ho

SEOUL, Feb. 28 (Yonhap) -- The foreign ministry called on Beijing to help ensure South Koreans will not face any "improper" treatment or measures in China due to coronavirus fears, a Seoul official said Friday, as reports of such instances are on the rise.

Worries have emerged about worsening public sentiment against Korean visitors in China amid reports that some Chinese have shown a reluctance to be in close contact with Koreans, as the number of South Korea's COVID-19 infections has topped 2,000.

"The foreign ministry has raised the issue with the relevant country, and it is our basic mission to emphasize that there should not be any improper measures against our citizens," an official at the ministry told reporters on condition of anonymity.

"This is an issue that South Koreans in China directly face, and thus the embassy and consulate generals have been closely watching the situation," he added.

The ministry appears to have raised the issue when it called in Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming earlier this week over some Chinese provincial authorities' forcible quarantine measures.

As of Friday afternoon, nearly 10 Chinese provinces have imposed quarantine programs against South Koreans, with some applying the procedures not only to Koreans but also those from other countries, including Japan.

Asked about the possibility of the United States imposing an entry ban on Koreans, the official said he was not sure.

"But our foreign ministry employees who have planned to visit the U.S. on business trips have not revised their trips yet. And we hope there will not be such travel restrictions," he said.

The U.S. State Department raised its travel advisory for South Korea to Level 3, the second-highest level, on Wednesday, urging Americans to reconsider travel over concerns about the coronavirus.

The measure came shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump said that it is not the right time to restrict travel to and from South Korea.

The foreign ministry plans to provide information on entry restrictions on a real-time basis through social media amid complaints that such information has oftentimes been outdated on its website or has been different from information on websites of its overseas missions.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha plans to preside over a video meeting with chiefs of South Korean diplomatic missions in China and Vietnam to discuss diplomacy to prevent excessive entry restrictions.

Ministry urges Beijing to avoid 'improper' measures against Koreans amid coronavirus outbreaks - 1


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