In a bid to further extend the global reach of its cultural economy, South Korea is set to unveil a new visa type, known as the Hallyu visa or K-culture training visa. This innovative visa will grant foreign nationals the opportunity to stay in the country for up to two years, provided they register at local performing arts academies. The move comes as part of South Korea’s strategic business plan to capitalize on the growing interest in its cultural exports.
The Hallyu visa has been in development for a year and is a response to the surge in global interest in K-pop, as revealed by a study conducted by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. This genre has become a significant draw for tourists visiting the country. The new visa aims to cater to enthusiasts who wish to immerse themselves in Korean culture firsthand.
Eligibility Criteria and Application Process
While detailed criteria for the Hallyu visa are yet to be disclosed, it is expected that specific guidelines will be released by the second half of 2024. As of now, it is known that applicants must enroll in an art, dance, or music school to be eligible for the Hallyu visa, and the chosen institution must be government-accredited.
Previously, individuals interested in engaging with the Korean entertainment industry had limited visa options such as tourist visas (with a maximum stay of 90 days), student visas (requiring enrollment in a university), working holiday visas (permitting part-time work), or culture and entertainment visas (requiring a contract with an entertainment agency). The Hallyu visa is designed to address the needs of those taking their first steps into the industry, streamlining the process through relevant educational programs.
A government official told to Korea Herald in 2022 that the Justice Ministry has been advocating for the Hallyu visa program due to the rising demand for education on Korea’s cultural content. This initiative aims to bolster the Korean Wave and provide support to the local culture and music industry, especially during the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to the Hallyu visa, South Korea is set to launch a digital nomad visa, allowing foreigners to work and travel simultaneously. These new visa categories form part of South Korea’s broader efforts to revive its tourism sector, which has faced setbacks due to the impact of the global pandemic. As South Korea embraces these innovative visa options, it not only strengthens its position as a cultural hub but also opens doors for diverse interactions and collaborations on the global stage.