Visa-Free Travel Starts Between Korea and Russia

A visa-free travel agreement between Korea and Russia went into effect on Wednesday with the first group of Russians to enjoy the waiver arriving by ship in Sokcho Port in Gangwon Province.

The New Blue Ocean operated by Stena Daea Line carried 322 passengers including 240 Russians. It left Zarubino on the New Year's Eve and arrived in Sokcho at 11 a.m. on New Year's Day.

Stena Daea held a magic show, party and sunrise viewing session to celebrate the start of the visa-free program.

Russian tourists arrive in Sokcho Port in Gangwon Province on Wednesday. Russian tourists arrive in Sokcho Port in Gangwon Province on Wednesday.

Koreans and Russians can stay in each other's country for up to 60 days under the agreement, which was signed last year by President Park Geun-hye and her Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

Until last year, Korean who wanted to go through Zarubino to the symbolically charged Mt. Baekdu, part of which is in China and part in North Korea, had to pay around W230,000 (US$1=W1,046) for visas just to cross the Russian border.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 02, 2014 12:44 KST