April 11 (UPI) -- Thousands of Vietnamese have been lining up outside the South Korean embassy in Hanoi this week to obtain a new multiple-entry visa, and the rush to obtain the document could have been spurred by false rumors.
Vietnamese nationals in the thousands began to congregate as early as 2 or 3 a.m. outside the South Korean Embassy to take advantage of new rules that would allow Vietnamese residents of select regions to stay in Korea for a maximum of 30 days, with multiple entries allowed for five years.
The new South Korean visa policy went into effect in December, but this week the embassy was overwhelmed with applicants, about 2,000 to 3,000 daily, Yonhap reported Thursday.
The embassy has been unable to process all the applicants and had to turn people away, according to the report.
Vietnamese with proof of residency in the areas in and around Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang qualify for the C-3 visa. The policy, part of South Korean President Moon Jae-in's New Southern Policy to enhance ties with Southeast Asian nations, has in turn boosted Vietnamese tourism to Korea.
In Hanoi alone, more than 9,000 Vietnamese have applied for the visa in January, up from 6,000 exactly a year ago.
Vietnamese nationals with plans to travel to Korea may have been on the receiving end of a false rumor that the multiple-entry visa would no longer be available after the end of April, according to Yonhap.
VN Express reported this week an applicant, who showed up at the embassy in Hanoi at 6 a.m. Wednesday, said she was in a hurry because she had heard that in "the next few months, South Korea may tighten the visa policy."
According to the Vietnamese news service, the South Korean tourism bureau said more than 100,000 Vietnamese visited South Korea in 2019.