South Korean woman stabbed to death by Chinese tourist in Jeju

SEOUL • A 61-year-old woman was stabbed to death by a Chinese tourist in Jeju over the weekend, the latest in a string of violent crimes that has shocked residents on the resort island.

Just last week, eight Chinese tourists assaulted a Korean restaurant owner when she told them they could not drink alcohol purchased outside the restaurant. The owner is reportedly suffering from a brain haemorrhage, according to broadcaster KBS.

In the latest case, the woman was praying alone in a cathedral on Saturday morning when the 50-year-old Chinese tourist, identified only by his surname Chen, stabbed her four times and fled from the scene.

The victim, surnamed Kim, died in hospital on Sunday morning.

The suspect, who had travelled to Jeju on a visa waiver programme, was arrested on Saturday some 40km away from the scene of the incident, reported the Yonhap news agency.

News of the stabbing case topped headlines in South Korea over the weekend and sparked calls for China to be dropped from Jeju's visa waiver programme.

A series of violent crimes by Chinese tourists has alarmed Jeju, reported JoongAng Ilbo.

"Do the Chinese think that Jeju island is a hunting ground?" said one local on Twitter on Sunday.

Nearly 2,000 people have signed a petition for the visa waiver privilege to be revoked for mainland tourists, reported The Korea Times.

Since the Jeju provincial government implemented the visa waiver system in 2008, the number of foreign tourists to Jeju has markedly increased. Last year alone, 600,000 foreigners visited Jeju without a visa.

But the number of crimes committed by foreigners has also surged over the past few years.

The Korea Times reported that 347 foreigners had committed crimes in Jeju as at the end of July this year, a 60 per cent increase compared with the same period last year. Among them, 240 - or 70 per cent - were Chinese nationals.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2016, with the headline 'South Korean woman stabbed to death by Chinese tourist in Jeju'. Print Edition | Subscribe