Visitors to China will have to pay W20,000 more to get a visa starting Friday (US$1=W1,067). Visa fees will rise to W70,000 for a 30-day tourist visa and to W110,000 for a 180-day business visa.
The Chinese Embassy here will open two offices dedicated to visa issuance in downtown Seoul and another two in Busan and Gwangju. It is unclear whether the fee hike is being used to fund the new offices.
According to the Chinese National Tourism Administration, 3.97 million Koreans visited China last year. If they have to pay an additional W20,000 per person, the hike would bring in an extra W79.4 billion.
"The procedure and time it takes to get a visa remain same despite the fee increase," said a travel agent in Seocho, Seoul. "It seems Korean consumers are just shouldering the operation costs of the new offices."