On December 21, 2021, Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs will start issuing more secure and durable next-generation e-passports. The announcement was made during a November 11th press briefing by Spokesperson and Deputy Minister for Public Affairs Choi Youngsam.

The next-generation e-passport includes 15 changes from the previous version: For example, the new passport:

  • Has a blue cover instead of the previous green.
  • Is made of polycarbonate, a sturdier material than paper.
  • Uses a larger variety of special inks.
  • Contains more pages that include images of national treasures.
  • Omits the resident registration number on the ID pages, to safeguard privacy.

The Foreign Ministry believes the upgraded passport will better protect the status of Korean nationals traveling or staying overseas and will prove more convenient in immigration matters. It should also be more difficult to copy or falsify. The Ministry has been issuing the new passports to diplomats and officials since last December as part of a pilot program.

The first page inside the passport represents Korea’s national treasures including porcelains, pagodas, palaces, crowns and more.

Design of the first inner page of the new Korean passport, designed by Kim Su-zung, professor of fine arts at Seoul National University [MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS]

The inside pages of the new passport feature images of at least 20 different national treasures. (The previous version had only two such designs on those pages.)

A page for visas show Korean national treasures [MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS]

The next generation e-passport will be issued for all new and renewed passports starting on December 21. However, previously issued passports will remain valid until their expiration date.

The Ministry estimates that 4.1 million Korean citizens have passports that have expired or will expire within the next six months. They decided to upgrade the passport before those citizens start applying to renew their passports as more people prepare for post-pandemic travel.
  
Korea last redesigned its passports in 2008, when it began inserting an electronic chip–containing the same information shown on data page—inside the document.

Sources:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Korea

Korea JoongAng Daily

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