S. Korea mulls travel ban on some Filipino areas

November 4, 2015

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea is considering imposing a travel ban on some crime-prone Filipino regions, an official here said Monday after a South Korean national was found dead while in captivity by Muslim militants in the Southeast Asian country.

The man in his 70s, identified only by his surname Hong, was kidnapped in January in the southern region of Zamboanga in Mindanao Island. His body was found over the weekend and transfered immediately to his family. Local police said Hong seemed to have died due to illness.

The Filipino authorities were in drawn-out talks with the kidnappers demanding a huge amount of ransom.

“The government is considering adjusting the level of travel warnings for the Philippines in general,” the Foreign Ministry official told reporters in a background briefing. “The government is mulling over the designation of some areas as a travel ban zone.”

It is among various measures considered to prevent crimes against South Koreans in the Philippines that are on the steady rise. Nine Koreans have been murdered there this year alone.

Around 88,000 South Koreans live in the Southeast Asian country on a permanent basis, with more than one million others traveling there every year, according to official data.

Under its passport law, South Korea has prohibited its people from traveling to conflict-ridden nations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and Syria.