The Chinese embassy in South Korea has suspended issuing short-term visas for South Korean visitors, it said on Tuesday, the first retaliatory move against nations imposing COVID-19 curbs on travellers from China.

The embassy will adjust the policy subject to the lifting of South Korea’s “discriminatory entry restrictions” against China, it said on its official WeChat account.

A Chinese embassy official confirmed the new measure.

The announcement comes a day after Foreign Minister Qin Gang expressed concern about the restrictions in a telephone call with his South Korean counterpart Park Jin, according to China’s foreign ministry.

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“Our government’s enhanced quarantine measures on travellers from China are based on scientific and objective evidence,” Lim Soo-suk, a spokesperson for Seoul’s foreign ministry, told a regular briefing following the announcement.

“We have been transparently exchanging related information with the international community, and have also been communicating with the Chinese side.”

South Korea began requiring travellers from China to undergo a PCR test upon arrival from last week, joining a growing list of countries imposing border restrictions amid concern over infections following China’s decision to end its zero-COVID policies.

Effective Thursday, arrivals are also required to provide a negative PCR result, taken within 48 hours of the beginning of the journey to South Korea, or a rapid antigen test taken within 24 hours, while short-term visa issuance has been suspended for Chinese nationals until the end of the month.


On Thursday, South Korean police tracked down a Chinese man who went missing while awaiting quarantine after having tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival.

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol said on Monday the country’s border measures should focus strictly on the safety of its citizens.

The latest tension dampened share prices of South Korean companies with heavy exposure to business with China, sending cosmetics makers LG H &H and Amorepacific down by more than 2% each in late afternoon trade after early gains.