Images showing Chinese tourists wearing yellow badges around their necks as they arrive in South Korea have elicited outrage online, among widespread accusations of discrimination related to Covid-19 travel restrictions. The yellow badges, however, are not a new protocol at Incheon Airport.
As China experiences a surge in Covid-19 cases, a number of countries have imposed new restrictions and sanitary procedures directed at Chinese travellers. Among them, neighbouring South Korea has been harshly criticised online, even accused of targeted discrimination.
The accusations come after the country began requiring a PCR test on departure and arrival for those from China in January. Those who test positive are required to go to a quarantine centre. The measure currently only applies to travellers coming from China.
The restriction has attracted controversy at a time when Chinese people are experiencing more freedom of movement linked to the end of Covid-19 restrictions in the country. It also coincides with the approach of the Lunar New Year holiday period.
Outrage from Chinese travellers online was stoked by a post that has been circulating widely on Weibo (China's equivalent of Twitter) since January 10. It showed several photos of Chinese travellers at Seoul's Incheon Airport wearing yellow badges around their necks.
The screenshot above shows a yellow badge in a plastic pouch. It reads "Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency" in English and Korean.
The caption states, "As soon as you get off the plane, you are given a yellow badge that you have to wear around your neck [...] Then, the Korean army will show you where to collect your luggage, do the PCR test and quarantine."