Taipei: Taiwan`s government on Thursday became the first to advise its citizens to postpone trips to South Korea ahead of an expected missile launch by the North that has sent nuclear tensions soaring.
The Foreign Ministry has issued a "grey" alert for South Korea, a popular tourist destination for Taiwanese, calling on travellers to delay sightseeing, business and study trips there.
"The ministry will continue to monitor the developments on the Korean peninsula and regularly update travel information to ensure the safety of our people," it said in a statement.
The North last week told foreign diplomats in Pyongyang they had until April 10 to consider evacuation, and followed that with a similar warning to foreigners in South Korea to get out ahead of a possible "thermo-nuclear" war.
But the European Union said the seven EU countries with embassies in North Korea saw no need to leave, adding that it saw no risk to its citizens in the South.
Some Western diplomats said that the warnings were a propaganda ploy by the North to shift blame for heightened tensions to South Korea and its ally the United States.
Despite the reassurances, there is still growing global concern that sky-high tensions might trigger an incident that could swiftly escalate.
According to Taiwan`s Tourism Bureau, about 40 percent of scheduled group tours to South Korea had been cancelled as of Wednesday.
About 1,400 Taiwanese group tourists are currently travelling in South Korea, while local travel agencies have been instructed to advise their clients to delay trips there or switch to other locations, the bureau said.
Seoul switched diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing in 1992, but maintains close trade, tourism and civil ties with the self-ruled island. Last year more than 532,000 Taiwanese visited South Korea.