(LEAD) S. Korea, Thailand to hold consular talks amid complaints over immigration services for Thai nationals

South Korea and Thailand will soon hold consular talks to discuss recent complaints by Thai nationals of their allegedly unfair treatment by South Korean immigration services, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Saturday.

The two sides agreed to hold the talks between the directors-general for consular affairs at their respective foreign ministries, after the complaints spread on social media, with the hashtag “ban Korea travel” trending on the platform X in Thailand.

According to the posts, Thai nationals were unfairly denied entry or subject to strict screening at immigration points in South Korea.

Seoul’s justice ministry, however, has highlighted a need to screen out potential illegal immigrants, noting some 78 percent of all visitors from Thailand are currently staying here illegally.

“Taking appropriate steps to prevent illegal stays of foreign visitors is a basic duty of the government,” the ministry said Friday.

Seoul and Bangkok have reportedly agreed to discuss the issue of Thai nationals staying illegally in South Korea at their upcoming consular talks.

The decision to hold the consular talks was reached during the fourth round of bilateral policy consultations led by First Vice Foreign Minister Chang Ho-jin and Thailand’s Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs Sarun Charoensuwan in Bangkok on Friday, the ministry said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency