Tue, Feb 01, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Representative office to reopen in S Korea's Busan

DIPLOMATIC MOVE Taiwan will open an unofficial `consulate-general' in South Korea's second largest city, in a move that will boost ties


The scheduled reopening of a Taiwanese representative office at Busan, the second largest city in South Korea, next month will substantially boost ties between Taiwan and South Korea, the representative to Seoul, Li Tsai-fang (李在方), said yesterday.

Li, along with officials from the Seoul-based Taipei Mission in Korea, traveled to Busan, which is located at the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula, to celebrate the unveiling of the office's sign.

Taiwan's representative office in Busan -- formerly a consulate -- had been closed since Taipei and Seoul severed diplomatic relations in 1992.

The new office, designated the Taipei Mission in Korea, Busan Office, is still undergoing renovation.

Situated in downtown Busan, the office will serve overseas Taiwanese living in and around the city after it is officially opened next month.

Taiwanese officials based in Seoul said they did not start renovation work in the office before the sign was unveiled, because of fears that the Chinese embassy in South Korea might block establishment of the office.

"The reopening of the office will save South Korean citizens living in Busan the trouble of traveling to Seoul to apply for Taiwanese visas. Overseas Taiwanese working and living the city will also benefit from the convenient services the office is going to offer in the near future," Li said during a ceremony unveiling the sign.

The office will provide "vital logistical support" for the Taiwanese delegation attending this year's APEC summit, slated to take place in Busan from Nov. 12 to Nov. 19, Li said.

"Taiwan and South Korea signed an agreement to resume air transportation last September. Today, we set up this new office, which is equivalent to a consulate-general in its function," Li said.

"These developments testify to the complete normalization of substantial exchanges between Taiwan and South Korea," Li said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent two officials to help organize yesterday's event. Led by Li, Taiwanese officials based in the country announced the news to overseas Taiwanese and Busan officials at a party last night.

"Now, Taiwan and South Korea grant each other's citizens visa-free entry. The two countries are close friends in Northeast Asia," Li said.

The deep harbor and gentle tides of Busan, a city of approximately 3.7 million residents, have allowed it to grow into the largest container handling port in South Korea and the third largest in the world.

The Busan office will be in charge of consular affairs in the provinces of South Jeolla, North Gyeongsang, South Gyeongsang and Jeju, as well as the four cities of Busan, Daegu, Ulsan and Gwangju, officials said.

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