UPDATE : 2018.11.13 TUE 16:10
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S. Korea considers temporary visa waivers for Chinese, Southeast Asian visitors to Olympics

The government will consider limited or temporary visa waiver programs for Chinese nationals and Southeast Asian group tourists during next month's PyeongChang Winter Olympics, the ruling Democratic Party said Monday.

During a policy coordination meeting, the government and ruling party also agreed to make eight highways near the Olympic venues toll-free during the Feb. 15-18 Lunar New Year's holiday, officials said.

The Olympics are scheduled for Feb. 9-25.

"To ensure that people can enjoy the Lunar New Year's holiday with the PyeongChang Olympics, we have decided to make eight highways near the venues toll-free and carry out a campaign to give Olympic tickets as gifts during the holiday," Park Wan-joo, the party's spokesman, told reporters.

"We also agreed to strengthen support to vitalize domestic tourism through programs, such as running the month of tours to PyeongChang," he added.

The two sides are considering allowing Chinese nationals with Olympic tickets worth 200,000 won or more (US$188) to stay in Korea without a visa for 15 days, and groups of five or more Southeast Asian tourists to travel in Korea without a visa for 15 days.

During the meeting, the two sides also agreed to mobilize all available administrative capabilities to cope with the aftermath of a hospital fire in the southern city of Miryang that left 39 people dead.

The ruling bloc, in addition, decided to push for safety checks on 290,000 facilities across the country to ensure that they are well equipped with firefighting equipment, such as sprinkler systems.

"We have decided to make every effort to support the victims and their families, thoroughly investigate the cause of the deaths and ensure that there will be no negligence in the process of treating the injured and carrying out funeral services," Park said.

Top officials from the government and ruling Democratic Party hold a policy coordination meeting at the party's headquarters in Seoul on Jan. 29, 2018. (Yonhap)

Kim Jung-mi  edt@koeapost.com

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