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Korea, Hong Kong to streamline automated immigration checks

South Korea's government on Tuesday said it has agreed with Hong Kong to simplify the automated immigration procedures for each other starting next week, by eliminating the mandatory online preregistration.

The Ministry of Justice said South Korean nationals and Hong Kong citizens will be able to use the automated immigration system when visiting each other's countries without preregistering online starting Monday.

Under the new plan, South Koreans aged 17 or older visiting Hong Kong can register their biometric information, including fingerprints and facial images, at Hong Kong International Airport after going through a face-to-face inspection. When they leave the special administrative region, they can go through the simplified automated procedures. Hong Kong citizens visiting South Korea can go through the same procedures here.

Previously, all those wanting to use the automated system had to first apply for the program online.

An estimated 670,000 South Koreans visit Hong Kong every year on average since 2011, according to the justice ministry.

Last year, nearly 700,000 South Koreans visited Hong Kong, and some 520,000 Hong Kong citizens visited South Korea. The number of people who used the automated immigration system, however, remained under 10,000 for each country, according to the ministry.

"We expect the simplified system to vitalize the movement of people between the two sides," the ministry said. (Yonhap)

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