South Korean embassy starts issuing work visas again

By Veronica Uy
Last updated 08:05pm (Mla time) 07/19/2007

MANILA, Philippines — Three days after suspending visa issuances for South Korea-bound overseas Filipino workers, the South Korean embassy here resumed its operations Thursday following a “positive” meeting with Bureau of Immigration chief Marcelino Libanan Wednesday afternoon.


“In my meeting with the commissioner yesterday afternoon, I received very positive signals from the immigration team. I am pleased and I gave my word that I would lift the suspension as soon as I get to the office,” Consul General Hong Sung Mog told in a phone interview.


Hong said he subsequently communicated the results of his meeting to the South Korean community here. “They are known to every important Korean businessman here and the panic is gone. The situation is going back to normal,” he said.


Asked what the “positive signs” were, Hong said he was not in a position to divulge the details of the meeting, adding that “it is up to the BI to take action now.”


Pressed if he was promised that South Koreans would no longer be harassed or be victims of extortion, Hong said: “They told me of ways to prevent the chances of having unauthorized officers approach our nationals. You see, our people have no way of knowing who are authorized or not.”


The three-day suspension of visa issuances to South Korea-bound OFWs was announced July 13 at the embassy.


The announcement created a minor diplomatic wrinkle between the two countries. The Department of Foreign Affairs summoned Hong to its offices Monday for bypassing the department when he unilaterally acted on the complaints of his compatriots. Hong apologized for the diplomatic faux pas, but not for suspending visa issuances.


Around 200 visa applications are accepted by the South Korean embassy every day. Some 70,000 Filipinos work and live in the peninsula.


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