South Korea

Quick facts

  • Full name: Republic of Korea
  • Capital: Seul
  • Largest city: Seul
  • Official language: Korean
  • Area: 100,363 km2
  • Population: 51,446,201 (2017)
  • Currency: South Korean Won (KRW) 1 (KRW) = 100 jeon
  • Foreign tourists: 17.2 million (2016)
  • Travel risks and hazards: Petty crime, natural hazards.

Although officially known as the Republic of Korea, the country only covers the southern half of the peninsula down from the infamous 38th parallel which became the border of the split nation after the Korean war in the 50s. The country saw its economic rise also called “Miracle of the Han River” from one of the world’s poorest country to currently one of the richest with one of the highest HDI in the world. Korea is known for many large brands which are popular all across the world like Samsung, Hyundai or Kia. Korea has also a vibrant history which for the most part is shared with its northern sibling reaching all the way back to the 2nd millennium B.C. up until the 1950s.

Traveling info

All visitors traveling to South Korea must have a valid passport and have to obtain a visa in order to enter the country. Nationals of certain countries, however, may enter without the requirement of obtaining a visa for a period of 30 up to 90 days depending on their country of origin. (List in sources) Regardless of nationality, tourists who wish to drive in South Korea must first obtain an international driving permit which can only be issued by the driving department in their country of origin. The IDP will allow tourists to drive private vehicles in Korea and to rent vehicles. Beware that an IDP does not substitute for the original driving permit, meaning that the driver must be in possession of both in order to drive legally.

Traveling hazards

Korea has a well-developed infrastructure. Due to the economic rise, the country developed an extensive system of highways and secondary roads spanning all over the country. There is also a well developed public transportation system including trains, buses, metro, and trams. The traffic accident rate is slightly higher than the European average. All traffic incidents involving motorbikes, of bicycles presume the driver of the car to be at fault. Serious injury or fatality in a traffic accident will most likely result in an arrest and a release only after the finish of the investigation. It is strongly recommended to purchase and use a dash cam whilst driving.

Environmental hazards

Although most dangerous animals that harmed humans in the past are now extinct, there are still several animals capable of badly injuring or even killing people. There are a number of vipers inhabiting the Korean peninsula which have venom potent enough to kill a grown adult. Tiger snakes are also dangerous however not like their viper cousins. Tiger snakes will pose danger to children and elderly however bites on grown adults are rarely fatal. Other than that giant Asian hornets are one of the most dangerous creatures in the country. These flying giants are merciless and attack spotted intruders. Waters surrounding the Korean peninsula have more dangerous creatures than South Korea. There have been few reports of shark attacks and none since 2010 however such attacks cannot be ruled out. Whilst designated and guarded beaches are generally safe, shark encounters mostly take place whilst diving or swimming far out in the sea. There have been numerous incidents involving jellyfish stinging people in the water some of which endured trauma involving shock from stinging.
South Korea is mostly prone to tsunamis and typhoons for which the country prepares extensively however large scale catastrophes are capable of devastating infrastructure and worst claiming lives. Other natural hazards include landslides, excessive rainfall, and earthquakes.

Health hazards

There are currently no outbreaks of any diseases however there are several vaccinations which are recommended to ensure disease-free travel. These are the routine vaccines also known as MMR vaccines, hepatitis A and B, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, and typhoid vaccines. Malaria is present in Korea and is contractible through mosquito bites, therefore, to prevent contracting the disease it is important to protect against mosquito bites by using bug repellant sprays or installing mosquito nets in your accommodation. Unfortunately, there is no vaccination against malaria however there is medicine on prescription against it. South Korea boasts some of the best healthcare services in the world. Public healthcare system delivers free services to the citizens of South Korea however expats are expected to pay for their services. Private clinics and hospitals also deliver excellent quality of care however both expats and South Korean citizens must pay for such service. Medical insurance is strongly recommended as it will cover possible medical expenses.
In case of an emergency dial 119.


South Korea is generally considered a safe destination for tourists by having crime rates comparable to some of the safest countries in Europe. Violent crime is very rare and almost non-existent for tourists. When it does occur it is mostly during night hours in the vicinity of nightclubs and bars. Petty crime concerns both the natives of South Korea and tourists. Pickpocketing, bag snatching, etc. mostly takes place in crowded areas, tourists spots and on public transport. Thieves usually pick their targets on the perception of their victim’s wealth, therefore, staying low key is recommended. Wearing expensive jewelry or overly expensive clothes increases the chances of attracting potential pickpockets. Thieves usually avoid confrontation and are deterred by such behavior. South Korean drug laws are very strict, mere possession may lead to a minimum of 5 years in prison.


South Korea is one of the most popular spots in Asia to visit offering some incredible and unique culture, producing many K-pop stars, all year round festivals, historical and futuristic architecture and much more. Remember that planning your trip with will give you the quickest information about nearest emergency services and will also help you purchase indispensable travel insurance for the trip of your lifetime. Please feel free to comment and share the experiences of your travels with