South Korea deports 11 Chinese tourists

Shanghai,China - Eleven Chinese tourists who deserted a cruise ship at South Korea's Jeju Island were deported and arrived in Shanghai yesterday afternoon.

Shanghai,China – Eleven Chinese tourists who deserted a cruise ship at South Korea’s Jeju Island were deported and arrived in Shanghai yesterday afternoon. They have been detained by Shanghai border police.

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The 11, nine men and two women, were on a China Eastern flight which arrived at Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 2:45pm.

None of the 11 people was a Shanghai local.

Chinese police have launched an investigation and if it is found to be a case of organized illegal immigration, those responsible would be severely punished, Sun Limin, an officer with China’s consulate general in South Korea’s Gwangju, told the Beijing News.

If the tourists hold legal passports or visas, it will be difficult for the Chinese border police alone to judge if there was an attempt to smuggle people into South Korea and an investigation by the South Korean police will be needed, an officer with Shanghai’s Waigaoqiao border inspection said yesterday.

If they had illegal passports or visas, they will face fines and short-term detention, the officer said.

Another passenger was found at around 2am yesterday by South Korean police. He was to be sent back with the 11, but managed to escape.

Police followed him and found him with two snakeheads, organizers of illegal people smuggling. He had contacted them to help him leave Jeju, South Korean police told Phoenix TV.

A total of 44 tourists on Italian liner Costa Classica deserted the cruise after it arrived at Jeju Island on October 17 and 32 are still missing.

The 44, aged from 30 to 40, were from Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang provinces in northeast China, Sun said.

Sun said the incident wouldn’t affect Chinese people’s visits to South Korea.

In an earlier case, two Chinese went missing from a group visiting Jeju on October 10. South Korean police are still searching for them and they suspect the two incidents are related, the Beijing News reported.

The incidents will not lead to a tightening of South Korea’s visa policy for Chinese travelers, a staff member at South Korea’s Embassy in Beijing told the Beijing Morning Post.

The luxury liner left Shanghai port with 1,311 people on board. Shanghai Bashi Travel, Shanghai Airline Tours International and other travel agencies organized the trip.

South Korea’s resort island of Jeju allows Chinese visa-free entry and some people take advantage of that to try to enter the country illegally.

Compared with taking a flight, which requires a more complicated process and involves higher risks of deportation, taking a cruise is cheaper and becomes a new way for people to enter the country illegally, a South Korean police officer said.