October 01, 2015 09:26
The number of foreigners who visited Korea to obtain driving licenses surged from just 55 in 2009 to 4,949 last year, and most were Chinese, according to the police.
Chinese nationals accounted for 94 percent of those foreigners since most regional governments in China recognize Korean driving licenses after an additional written test at home.
Chinese travel agencies are marketing seven-day tour packages to Korea for 7,000 to 10,000 yuan and the trips are selling like hot cakes.
It is notoriously difficult to obtain driver’s licenses in China, where applicants must undergo 63 hours of training and tests are easily failed. After a failed test, applicants cannot reapply for 10 days, and six failures mean they have to start from scratch.
In Korea the rules are much easier. Applicants need to undergo only 13 hours of training and wait only one to three days to reapply if they fail a test. The written test is also offered in Chinese.
A 23-year-old Chinese who passed the driver's license test in just a week in Korea said, "In China, it takes between a month to half a year to get a license."
Driving schools in Korea, particularly on the resort island of Jeju, are busy trying to attract Chinese students by hiring Mandarin-speaking recruiters and instructors.
The Chinese government sent an official letter to the Korean police in December of last year complaining that the easier driving tests could increase traffic accidents in China and urged Seoul to curb the wave. But the Korean police told Beijing that it is difficult to apply different regulations for visitors.
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