[Newsmaker] Vaccine Pass: What foreign residents vaccinated abroad have to go through in Korea

[Newsmaker] Vaccine Pass: What foreign residents vaccinated abroad have to go through in Korea
James Jensen (left), Alissa (middle) and Andrew are among many foreign residents who are considered ”unvaccinated“ despite having been vaccinated abroad.From Monday, South Korea will introduce stricter social distancing measures amid growing daily cases and concerns over the new omicron variant, which has now been found in the country. As the government is set to roll back part of the “living with COVID-19” scheme, more public facilities such as restaurants, cafes and cinemas will ask for proof of vaccination or a negative test for entry, with a one-week grace period.

Currently, the country’s vaccination verification system, known as COOV, does not recognize foreign nationals who have been vaccinated abroad but are without a quarantine exemption. South Koreans in a similar situation, however, have been able to sign up for the COOV app.

The Korea Herald talked to people who are considered “unvaccinated” despite having been vaccinated abroad.

James Jensen, 27, software engineer

Software engineer James Jensen, 27, who was fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine in the US, is not sure whether he can get a booster shot in Korea.

“My bigger concern is that it’s now been over six months since my second shot and I’m coming up on time for a booster shot, but I‘m not sure that I can be given a booster shot here, since Korea doesn’t think I‘m vaccinated.

”It’s hard to find clear guidance on what I should do, but I‘ve read references to the booster being a different dosage than the first or second doses — so I’m hesitant to try and get another first dose instead.“

Though he has so far not had many experiences being denied entry at venues, he fears things will only get worse.

”I was only once denied entry to a bar back when groups of more than two had to be majority vaccinated, because I was in a group of three where one other had only just gotten their second dose. As this gets more organized I assume I‘ll be denied more places.“

With more cases of the omicron variant found in the country, the government is taking caution and will “later consider” recognizing more foreign vaccination certificates such as those carried by foreign nationals, according to an official of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Sunday.

Explaining the delay for foreign vaccine certificates carried by foreign nationals, the KDCA official explained verification remains a challenge.

Alissa, 26, graduate student

The rationale behind the delay makes little sense to Alissa, a 26-year-old graduate student, who received double doses of Pfizer in Switzerland.

“What I would wish from the government is that they stop arguing that it’s difficult to verify our certificates because I have Korean friends that got vaccinated in Switzerland, Germany and France. They have the same documents that I do, but for them, it‘s fine.”

The decision to count many foreign residents as “unvaccinated” also runs counter to the government’s efforts to increase vaccination rates, she said.

“I just wish that the government could give us a date they would stick to. But they keep saying they have no plan, which doesn’t make any sense to me because they’ve had two months to make a plan and they still don‘t have it. For me, it just means they don’t care.”

Following the new announcement of stricter vaccine rules for businesses, Alissa believes more people will be affected.

“Does the government realize that this will also affect more people going forward like new EPIK (English) teachers, international students and business people who are getting their boosters in their home countries now and who will come to Korea in January and February?”

To some foreign nationals here who were vaccinated overseas, the nation’s tightened grip on people’s access to high-risk public places doesn’t seem like a big change because they have never been part of the system from the start.

Ben, 40s, office worker

Ben, a German office worker in his 40s residing in Seoul who was temporarily dispatched to a Korean subsidiary of a Munich-based financial firm in Yeouido in June last year, couldn’t get back to work shortly after returning from his two-week trip to Germany in August because of the mandatory 10-day quarantine upon his arrival in Korea.

He failed to receive a quarantine exemption certificate from Korean health authorities before coming to Korea from his country. Despite having received the second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in his country, his vaccination history was not recognized by Korean health authorities without the documentation. He got the first shot in Korea in May.

“Missing my family back home, I flied to Germany and completed the COVID-19 vaccination there. At that time, I didn’t even have a clue of the price I had to pay in Korea for a visit to my country — the self-isolation, being excluded from important business meetings. I missed a number of Zoom meetings with my company’s business partners overseas, so other officials should have adjusted their schedules to cover for me.”

“I do not understand why such an exemption certificate is mandatory to accept a vaccination status. Why does the Korean government link these two issues that have no correlation? To get this certificate as a normal worker from a foreign country is nearly impossible,“ he added.

Andrew, 32, English teacher

Andrew, a 32-year-old American who teaches English at an international school for elementary, middle and high school students in southern Seoul, also returned to work 10 days later than expected after arriving here in August from a three-month stay in Atlanta to spend his summer break with family and attend his best friend‘s wedding. He got both shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine there, but has been unable to register his vaccine status here.

“Stuck at home due to the self-quarantine, I couldn‘t hold an orientation session before classes begin in early September. Before returning to Korea, I called the Korean Embassy in Atlanta and explained that I was fully vaccinated, but officials told me that I would not be eligible for the quarantine exemption certificate unless I had immediate family to visit in Korea.

“I would not say it was difficult for me to comply with the conditions for quarantine exemption — it was literally impossible. This is further stifling as I really wanted to visit my family this holiday season as my grandmother is in poor health,” he said.

“I‘ve lived in Korea for a little over six years now with a working visa. This is home to me. This discrimination against foreigners in terms of the quarantine exemption as well as vaccination verification irritates me as I have been extremely careful and followed the government’s social distancing rules very closely.”

By Yim Hyun-su and Choi Jae-hee (hyusu@heraldcorp.com) (cjh@heraldcorp.com)

By Yim Hyun-su (hyunsu@heraldcorp.com)

News Related


High schooler's letter to soldier raises questions for letter writing campaign

A high school student’s letter to a conscripted soldier contains sarcastic and degrading messages. The letter was sent as part of a morale-boosting campaign for soldiers by the high school ... Read more »

Cafes, fast-food chains to receive deposits for disposable cups from June: environment ministry

This Jan. 6, 2022, file photo shows a person holding coffee in a plastic cup at a cafe in Seoul. (Yonhap)Deposits will be needed to buy drinks using disposable cups ... Read more »

Is Korea a tsunami-free zone?

An underwater volcanic eruption in the South Pacific which triggered massive waves reaching as far as Japan and the West Coast of the US has left Koreans wondering one thing: ... Read more »

Korean government to appeal court's call to halt vaccine-or-test policy for kids

Under the vaccine pass policy, people must be fully vaccinated no longer than six months ago or negative in tests taken within the last 72 hours to enter public places. ... Read more »

Man sets himself on fire over feud with international marriage agency

The photo is irrelevant with the story (Yonhap)A 60-something man is in serious condition after setting himself on fire out of anger over a feud with an international marriage agency ... Read more »

Complaints grow among eatery owners over partial suspension of vaccine pass system

This Jan. 4, 2022, file photo shows a vaccine pass checking system installed at a restaurant in Seoul. (Yonhap)Complaints have been mounting among owners of cafes and restaurants after the ... Read more »

Foreign children in Seoul to receive education fee support from March: education office

(Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education website)Foreign children aged 3-5 in Seoul will receive education fee support equivalent to that for South Korean children from March, the city’s education office said ... Read more »

Police looking into report of suspected animal abuse attempt using sausage-skewered fishhooks

This undated composite photo captured from social media shows a batch of fishhooks skewered with mini sausages discovered at a park popular among dog owners in Incheon, west of Seoul. ... Read more »

Govt. allows convicted conscientious objector to do alternative service for 1st time

Ministry of National Defense (Yonhap)The government has allowed a convicted conscientious objector to replace his military service duty with an alternative service for the first time, a decision suggesting a ... Read more »

Daily cases fall below 4,000 amid growing omicron woes

A health worker prepares for COVID-19 tests at a makeshift testing station in Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)South Korea’s daily coronavirus cases fell below 4,000 for the first time in a ... Read more »

Government to announce vaccine pass plans Monday amid continuing controversy

Visitors to a local department store in Seoul check in with a QR code. (Yonhap)The government is set to announce its latest decision on the vaccine pass mandate Monday, amid ... Read more »

Daily cases over 4,000 for 5th day amid strict curbs ahead of holiday

People wait in line to receive tests at a COVID-19 testing station in Gangneung, 237 kilometers east of Seoul, on Jan. 6, 2022, when the country reported 4,126 new cases. ... Read more »

The days of 3T are over

Health official takes a nasopharyngeal swab from a test seeker at a clinic set up outside Seoul Station on Friday. (Yonhap) When the inevitable omicron explosion descends on South Korea, ... Read more »

Seoul court pauses vaccine pass mandates for minors

The mandate requires people to scan QR codes containing personal information including vaccination status before entering public places. (Yonhap) Seoul court on Friday afternoon has suspended the Ministry of Health ... Read more »

Daily cases over 4,000 for 4th day amid extended virus curbs

This photo, taken Jan. 14, 2022, shows people waiting in line to take COVID-19 tests at a testing site near Seoul Station in Seoul. (Yonhap)South Korea’s daily coronavirus cases stayed ... Read more »

Unfriendly thank-you letter sparks criticism, question about letter-writing campaign to soldiers

Ministry of National Defense (Yonhap)An unfriendly letter that a high school girl wrote to a soldier in the mandatory military service surprised many this week, not only because of the ... Read more »

Public transport expansion, chip development marked Yongin's past three years

The view of SK hynix’ semiconductor complex in Yongin (Yongin City)Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, located about 40 kilometers south of Seoul, has grown into a city of more than 1 million ... Read more »

Yongin mayor pledges to make Yongin environment-friendly, economically self-sufficient city

Baek Kun-ki, the mayor of Yongin, speaks during a press conference in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, in July 2019. (Yongin City)Yongin, a city of 1 million located about 40 kilometers south ... Read more »

Jeju bans trading of tickets to Hallasan

Winterscape of Hallasan on Jeju Island, Dec. 29, 2021 (Park Ji-min)The white peaks of Mount Hallasan on Jeju Island has gained notable popularity this winter, promoting hikers to pay extra ... Read more »

Young politicians wanted: NGO seeks to reshape politics with grassroots initiative

Newways Executive Director Park Hye-min (left) and Communication Manager Gwak Min-hae (Newways)Everyone talks about the March 9 presidential election. But the local elections to be held in June are the ... Read more »

Vice FM tests positive for COVID-19

Interior Minister Jeon Hae-cheol (C) and Defense Minister Suh Wook (L) attend a Cabinet meeting at the government complex in Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)Second Vice Foreign Minister Choi Jong-moon tested ... Read more »

‘Omicron is COVID-22,' says Korea's top national hospital doctor

Infectious disease expert Dr. Oh Myoung-don (second from left) told a press conference Wednesday that omicron may spell the beginning of the end of the pandemic. (Yonhap)The omicron variant is ... Read more »

Education Ministry's ‘vaccine cartoon' attacked

Cut from cartoon shared by Education Ministry (Ministry of Education)The Ministry of Education is again drawing fire over sharing cartoons encouraging students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 despite the court ... Read more »

S. Korea approves Novavax COVID-19 vaccine

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety convenes a panel on Wednesday, to approve an authorization of US-based biotechnology company Novavax Inc.’s COVID-19 vaccine. (Yonhap)South Korea’s drug safety agency on ... Read more »

Eastar Jet founder gets 6-yr prison term for embezzlement, breach of trust

Lee Sang-jik, an independent lawmaker (Yonhap)JEONJU — The founder of South Korean budget carrier Eastar Jet Co. was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday for embezzlement of company ... Read more »

Gwangju shuts down all HDC construction sites after collapse; 6 remain missing

The Gwangju Metropolitan Government on Wednesday ordered a temporary shutdown on all construction sites in the city run by Hyundai Development Company, after a collapse at the company’s apartment construction ... Read more »

Search for missing workers at Gwangju construction accident site suspended amid safety inspection

Exterior walls of a high-rise apartment building in western Gwangju are seen ripped off on Wednesday. (Yonhap)GWANGJU — A safety inspection was under way Wednesday as authorities weighed when to ... Read more »

SPO orders joint probe of Gwangju building collapse accident

Reinforcing bars are seen sticking out of the facade of a high-rise apartment building under construction in the southwestern city of Gwangju on Wednesday, following its collapse the previous day ... Read more »

Daily infections back above 4,000 in 6 days amid lingering omicron woes

People wait to take coronavirus tests at a pop-up screening clinic in front of Seoul Station on Tuesday. South Korea’s daily coronavirus cases stayed below 4,000 for the fifth consecutive ... Read more »

Over half of S. Koreans support abolishment of gender ministry: poll

(Yonhap)A little over half of South Koreans support the abolishment of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family as proposed by the main opposition party’s presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol, a ... Read more »

Moon-established investigative office slammed over possible phone spying

The Corruption Investigation Office of High-ranking Officials was created in January last year to keep the prosecution’s powers in check. (Yonhap) A progressive lawyers’ group Tuesday slammed an anti-corruption investigative ... Read more »

Starbucks embroiled in culture war in Korea

Far-right YouTube channel Hover Lab’s recent livestream focused on the backlash against Starbucks among the left. (YouTube)A new culture war is brewing in South Korea. At the center is Starbucks, ... Read more »

Facade of apartment building under construction collapses, injuring at least 1

The exterior wall of an apartment under construction at a site in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, is seen collapsed on Tuesday. (Yonhap)A facade of a high-rise apartment building ... Read more »

[Newsmaker] Should politicians care about your hair loss?

Anti-hair loss products are on display at a store in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)Last week, the talk of the town was Democratic Party of Korea presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung’s pledge ... Read more »

Assembly passes bill on union representation in public institutions' boards

The National Assembly (Yonhap)The National Assembly on Tuesday passed a bill that mandates a union representative be included on public institutions’ boards of directors. The lawmakers approved a bill during ... Read more »

Air Force F-5 fighter jet crashes in Hwaseong

(Courtesy of Korean Air Force)An Air Force F-5 fighter jet crashed in central South Korea on Tuesday, officials said. A lone pilot was aboard the jet when it crashed into ... Read more »

Top court confirms W1.1b fine for Volkswagen Korea in emissions scandal

Renault Samsung Motor CEO Park Dong-hoon, former chief of Volkswagen Korea, appears to the prosecution for questioning. (The Investor)The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court’s decision to sharply ... Read more »

Top court dismisses Mitsubishi Heavy's 2nd appeal against wartime labor compensation

(Yonhap)The Supreme Court has dismissed a second appeal filed by Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries against an order to sell patent rights the company has in South Korea to compensate a ... Read more »

Cold weather grips S. Korea

People go to work wearing padded jackets as cold weather grips Seoul on Tuesday. (Yonhap)A cold wave hit South Korea on Tuesday, with temperatures in Seoul dropping to minus 9.3 ... Read more »

In-ground traffic lights installed across Seoul for 'smartphone zombies'

This file photo shows pedestrians walking over in-ground traffic signals. (Yonhap)A growing number of crosswalk traffic signals are finding their way onto the ground in Seoul as a way to ... Read more »
On free-english-test.com you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic