Sat, May 07, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Travel alert for S Korean islets downgraded

Staff Writer, with CNA

The travel alerts for five islands near South Korea’s western sea border were lowered from “red” to “gray,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday, citing an easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Last year, the ministry issued a red alert — the highest in its four-color-coded travel advisory system — for the five South Korean islets after tensions arose between Seoul and Pyongyang over the sinking of a South Korean warship in March last year and North Korea’s attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in November.

The five islets — Yeonpyeong, Baengnyeong, Daecheong, Socheong and Woo Island — are located in the Yellow Sea off South Korea’s west coast near the country’s disputed maritime border with North Korea.

According to the ministry, international mediation has helped to make the situation on the peninsula more stable. As a result, the ministry said it has decided to downgrade the travel advisory for the five islands to gray, which is the lowest level, but reminds travelers to be mindful of their own safety while visiting the area.

The ministry said a gray alert would remain in effect for the whole of South Korea because there has been no progress on the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program and South Korea is scheduled to hold parliamentary and presidential elections next year.

The possibility of conflicts between the Koreas cannot be ruled out ahead of the elections in the South, the ministry said.

In case of emergency, Taiwanese in South Korea should contact Taiwan’s representative offices in Seoul or Busan, the ministry said.

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