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South Korea Ready for Visa-Free Travel With Russia

South Korea hopes that new rules allowing visa-free travel with Russia will come into force on Jan. 1, a South Korean diplomat said Tuesday.

The proposed visa-free plan will allow Russians and South Koreans to visit each other's countries for a maximum of 30 days without visas.

"The Korean side has completed all the official procedures and has sent all necessary documents for review to the Russian government," said Lee Yang Goo, general consul for the South Korean Embassy in Vladivostok, according to Interfax.

He said that once the documents are reviewed and approved by the Russian side, travel between the two countries will increase, giving a significant boost to the tourist industries of both countries.

Currently there are 14 weekly flights between Vladivostok and Seoul and seven additional flights are planned due to rising demand, Interfax said.

Lee said visa-free travel between the two nations was proving possible because two conditions were being met: trust between the two sides and the need for travel.

In September, Konstantin Romodanovsky, the head of the Federal Migration Service, expressed similar enthusiasm toward the visa initiative.

"People, money and goods should be able to move freely without restrictions," he said, according to Voice of Russia radio. "The more freedom there is, the more people and goods will arrive to Russia and to the Republic of Korea."

The Kremlin is eager to ease visa restrictions for Russians and has been pushing for visa-free travel with the European Union for several years. Last month, Russia and the U.S. relaxed visa rules for tourists, businesspeople and several other categories of travelers, making three-year multientry visas the norm.

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