By Kim Han-joo
SEOUL, May 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will allow visa-free entry through Jeju and Yangyang international airports starting June 1, resuming a visa-waiver program that has been suspended for more than two years due to the pandemic, Interior Minister Jeon Hae-cheol said Wednesday.
Since 2002, the country has implemented a visa-free system under which all foreign visitors, except for those from 24 countries designated by the justice minister, can stay on the southern resort island of Jeju for up to 30 days without a visa.
However, the measure was halted on Feb. 4, 2020, following the outbreak of the pandemic. International flights were also suspended at Jeju International Airport in April 2020.
Group tours with five or more travelers from Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Mongolia arriving through Yangyang International Airport on the east coast can also stay in the country for up to 15 days without a visa, officials said.
"We hope to increase the number of international travelers and invigorate the tourism market by streamlining entry policy," Jeon said during the meeting of the central COVID-19 response body.
With the latest wave of infections showing signs of subsiding, the nation has adopted a series of relaxed border restrictions, exempting fully vaccinated visitors from mandatory quarantine.
On Wednesday, the country's new COVID-19 cases fell below 50,000 as the government has lifted the outdoor mask mandate in the latest effort to return to pre-pandemic normalcy.
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