The Thai tourists who have been denied entry to South Korea have filed a lawsuit against a travel company they say is responsible for the whole nightmare. Despite paying a lot of money for the package tour, 71 Thai tourists were detained at the South Korean border for four days and deported back to Thailand.
Yesterday, eight Thais who were on the flight traveled to meet with prominent lawyer Ratchapol Sirisakorn in Nonthaburi province to take legal action against the tour company.
Of the 184 passengers on the flight, 71 Thais had booked a vacation to Jeju Island through the same company.
Immigration officials said the 71 tourists had no way of entering South Korea without a tour guide because they could not prove they were actually on a trip.
All 71 tourists were held for four days before being sent back to Thailand.
The group’s representative, 36 -year-old Rittichai, described the ordeal as“ like in prison”.
Tourists had to self-cater but were only allowed to have two meals a day, each costing 280 baht, Rittichai said.
Each tourist paid 13 . 999 baht for a package deal that included flights, accommodation and a tour.
However, when they met two tour guides at Suvarnabhumi Airport, they were charged an additional fee of 10 each . 000 baht for an insurance and a“ Tour Guide Tip” from 1 . 500 baht imposed for both tour guides.
All agreed to pay because they were about to board the flight, Rittichai said.
In total, the tourists ended up paying 26 . 999 baht per person.
Lawyer Ratchapol Sirisakorn said the tour company is responsible if a tour group fails to clear immigration due to an error.
Tourists must be reimbursed for every penny, the lawyer said.
However, the lawyer was not sure whether the case should be handled by the Department of Tourism, the Department of State or the Office for Consumer Protection.
Yesterday the group said they had heard that another group of Thais who had also booked a trip are currently being held at the South Korean border.
The number of Thais working illegally in South Korea – colloquially known as “Pee Noi” (“little spirits”) in Thailand – is estimated at around 140,000. South Korean authorities have refused entry to 417 out of 697 Thais who traveled to Jeju this month, according to the Foreign Ministry.
A total of 110 Thai tourists on a single flight yesterday were denied entry to South Korea’s Jeju Island and turned back to Thailand, the Korea Times reports. Since Korea’s “reopening” after the pandemic, an insane 50% of all Thais arriving in South Korea have reportedly been turned back at the border.
Of the 184 Thai nationals who boarded a Jeju Airlines flight from Bangkok to Jeju Island yesterday, 125 were “rescreened” at the Immigration Department. A total of 110 were refused entry and flown back to Thailand last night. The immigration service did not provide any details or reasons for the refusal to enter the country, the Korea Times reports.
South Korea opened entry for tourists without quarantine – regardless of vaccination status – on July 25. However, the South Korean immigration authorities are stricter than ever. Since Korea “reopened” after the pandemic, 10,000 Thais have traveled to South Korea. More than 5,000 of them – 50% – were rejected and sent home, Daily News reports.
The reason for this? The country is cracking down on illegal migrant workers. The number of Thais legally working in South Korea is around 18,000. The number of Thais working illegally in South Korea is estimated at up to 140,000.
In 2022 alone, 10,377 Thais found working illegally in South Korea were deported.
Currently, all foreign nationals require a K-ETA or visa to enter South Korea. Non-Korean nationals traveling to South Korea for tourism, business meeting, discussion, conference, short-term study of less than 90 days, or visiting family should apply for the K-ETA online at least one week prior to arrival.
If the purpose of your visit is not covered by the K-ETA or your nationality is not eligible for a K-ETA, you will need to apply for an appropriate visa.
The Korea Times didn’t say whether the rejected Thais had a K-ETA or the correct visa, but it’s safe to assume that 110 people on a flight weren’t so ill-prepared that they didn’t have either. The real reason for the refusal of entry is therefore unknown.
Catch up on more stories here
Follow us on Facebook here