South Korean Ambassador Lee Sang-Hwa (third from right, front row) leads the opening of the Korea Visa Application Center on Aug. 31. Gracing the opening ceremony are (front row, from left) Philippine Korean Trade Association chairman Chun Joohwan, Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano, former Senate president Manny Villar, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jesus Domingo, Sen. Cynthia Villar, Hana Tour CEO Song Misun, Sen. Mark Villar; (second row, from left) Korea Tourism Organization director Kim Hyungjoon, Deputy Speaker Camille Villar, United Korean Community Association president Sim Jae Shin and KVAC director Ahn Kyuseok. The KVAC is located on the ninth floor of the Brittany Hotel BGC in Taguig.
MANILA, Philippines — The Korea Visa Application Center (KVAC) opened in Taguig on Aug. 31 to meet the growing demand amid a surge in the number of travelers between South Korea and the Philippines.
“The Korean government has designated 2023-2024 as ‘Visit Korea Year,’ making the opening of KVAC a perfect fit to the tourism campaign,” South Korean Ambassador Lee Sang-Hwa said during the opening ceremony of the KVAC, which is located at the Brittany Hotel in Bonifacio Global City.
“There have been concerns that the visa application process has been too difficult for Korea, but expectations are high that it will be improved by opening of KVAC,” he said.
“Following the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the diplomatic relations of the Philippines and Korea in 2024, I hope that the people-to-people exchanges will become more active, and that the friendship and partnership between two countries will deepen,” he added.
The opening ceremony was attended by Senators Cynthia and Mark Villar, Deputy Speaker Camille Villar, former Senate president Manny Villar, Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jesus Domingo and Tourism Undersecretary Verna Buensuceso.
People-to-people exchange between the two countries, which was at 2.54 million in 2019, was almost suspended during the pandemic, but reached one million from January to July this year.
This is a 4.7-fold increase from the first half of 2022 and it is expected that the level of people-to-people exchanges will return to pre-pandemic levels, officials said.
KVAC receives visa applications from Filipinos who want to visit Korea and releases issued visas and passports that have been reviewed by the South Korean embassy.
The KVAC said it shall perform the embassy’s window services while the embassy focuses on the screening of visa applications so visas are processed quickly and effectively.
KVAC provides free SMS notification services for visa applicants and offers facilities such as nursing rooms, children’s playrooms, computers and printers.
The embassy said it opened a visa application center to improve the convenience of visa applicants, remove the online reservation system and simplify the application process to ensure efficient visa processing.
“The Korean embassy will continue to make efforts to promote people-to-people exchanges,” Lee said, adding that the embassy “will make efforts to allow more people to enjoy the beauty and culture of Korea and to enhance the deep friendship and partnership between the Philippines and Korea.”