Malaysians denied passage into South Korea due to entry discrepancies

PETALING JAYA: The recent cases of Malaysians being denied passage into South Korea were due to discrepancies in their stated purpose of entry into the country, says Wisma Putra.

Such denial of entry often came about when there had been discrepancies between the stated purpose of entry on the immigration forms and the responses provided by Malaysian travellers during brief interviews at the immigration counters and, in some cases, in a dedicated interview room, said the Foreign Ministry.

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Wisma Putra said such cases frequently involved individuals who struggled to provide clear and sensible explanations on the travel itinerary such as details of the destinations, accommodation, proof of payments and financial ability to sustain themselves while in the country.

“Additionally, some travellers were reported to have provided inconsistent answers when questioned by immigration officers,” Wisma Putra said in a statement.

The Star reported on Feb 10 about incidents of Malaysians not being allowed to enter South Korea despite them showing all documents, including the Korea Electronic Travel Authorisation (K-ETA), return flight ticket, itinerary and cash, to the Korean authorities at the airport.

Some even claimed they were interrogated for hours and then told to return to Malaysia.

The account of their experiences had been shared on social media.

Wisma Putra acknowledged that there had been such cases happening.

The ministry said that it had engaged with Seoul on the matter.

“Wisma Putra views the matter seriously especially when there were no compelling reasons given on the decision to deny entry to those affected.

“At the same time, Wisma Putra duly acknowledges the rights of the receiving state, in this case the Republic of Korea (ROK), to exercise her rights in regulating matters that are within her sovereign territories,” it said.

“In line with the bounden duties of any Malaysian diplomatic missions abroad, the consular officers of the embassy will do their utmost best to promote and protect the interests of Malaysians abroad within the limit permitted by the local laws and Vienna Conventions that regulate the matter at hand,” it added.

“A number of engagements with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the ROK as well as the Korea Immigration Service had taken place,” Wisma Putra told The Star.

The ministry advised Malaysians traveling abroad, including South Korea, to prepare thoroughly before departure.

This includes keeping easily accessible copies of relevant documents in case they are requested by immigration officers upon arrival.

The Embassy of Malaysia in Seoul had also taken a number of steps to address the issue.

“Malaysian travellers are strongly advised to observe and respect the local laws to avoid being denied entry and in the worst case scenario having to face legal repercussions in a foreign land,” it said.

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