South Korea has imposed a Level 4 travel alert, the highest in its four-tier advisory system, prohibiting its nationals from traveling to the notorious “Golden Triangle” region in Laos, effective 1 February.
The decision was announced by the foreign ministry in response to an alarming increase in criminal activities within the area, Yonhap News Agency reported.
Notorious for a range of illicit activities, the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone, situated along the Mekong River in Laos’ Bokeo province at the border with Myanmar, Thailand, and China, has become a hotbed of trafficking and scams. Despite the issuance of a Level 3 alert on 24 November, South Korean nationals continued to be among the crimes’ victims, prompting the escalation of the travel advisory level.
Criminal incidents involved the enticement of victims into working for local companies, coercing them into engaging in illicit activities such as phishing scams and prostitution. The workers have often reported being physically assaulted if they resisted compliance.
The Level 4 travel alert signifies the severity of the situation. This measure aims to safeguard citizens from potential harm and address the escalating incidents of criminal activities in the area.
In addition to the travel restrictions to the Golden Triangle, South Korea has also decided to extend the existing travel ban for another six months on eight countries and six regions due to concerns related to terrorism and unstable security. The ban, initially set to conclude on 31 January, will now be in effect until 31 July.
The affected countries and regions include Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Ukraine, and Sudan. Travel restrictions will also be extended to parts of the Philippines, Russia, Belarus, Gaza, Myanmar, and the border area between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The South Korean government emphasizes the necessity of these measures to safeguard its citizens and urges all nationals to adhere strictly to the travel advisories in place.