Around 3,300 Chinese tourists refused to leave their cruise ship, the Costa Serena, at the South Korean resort island of Jeju on Saturday in a spontaneous protest against South Korea’s missile plans.
The South Koreans plans to install a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile system in their country in response to North Korea’s recent missile development programs. The Chinese government has raised concerns that the missile system is a threat to Chinese national and regional security.
In social media posts, the passengers, all staff on a company trip, said the decision was their own.
About 80 tour buses were cancelled as a result, reports Yonhap news agency.
It is the first time that such a large group of passengers has refused to disembark since the route was opened in the late 1990s. Smaller groups have refused to disembark over the last week.
China recently ordered mainland travel agencies to stop offering tours to South Korea, and Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises have indicated that they will cancel South Korean port visits from their China-based cruises.
Some residents of Jeju are said to be pleased, as they say the recent influx of Chinese tourists has led to increased crime, uncivilized behavior and litter. Over 11,000 people signed a petition calling for an end to visa-free entry for Chinese tourists last September.