Korean Consulate in Shanghai Issues 500,000th Visa

The Consulate General in Shanghai had issued more than 500,000 visas this year as of Thursday, a record number for a single diplomatic mission, a spokesman said.

The figure was up 36.1 percent from 367,000 last year and equivalent to the combined visas issued by all consular offices overseas in 2003.

As of the end of November, some 3.66 million Chinese had visited Korea, up 44.1 percent on-year.

That afternoon, the Consulate General presented round-trip air tickets to a 57-year-old woman who was the 500,000th person to be given a visa and to her family.

Tourist visas made up the bulk with about 473,000 or 95 percent, followed by business visas, visas for ethnic Koreans, and marriage visas.

Groups tourist visas took up 52 percent and individual visas 48 percent, suggesting that Chinese travel patterns are shifting from package tours to trips with family or friends.

The consulate is operating "fast windows" that issue visas to preferred tourists in just two to three days. The office is so inundated with applications that each staffer has to handle about 1,000 applications a day.

"Despite issuing the most visas in the country, the Shanghai Consulate General ranks lowest among all Korean diplomatic missions in China in terms of the rate of illegal immigration at a negligible 0.02 percent," it said. "We expect the number of visas we issue to reach 1 million a year within five years."

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 27, 2013 11:00 KST