South Korea Risk Report
Security travel advice for South Korea
Threat level: Low
The current travel safety advice for South Korea is to be aware of the relationship with North Korea and how this can change the diplomatic atmosphere of the country. Your stay should be one without issue if normal security precautions are undertaken. Please note that the country holds civil emergency training.
Recent Security Risk Events
Due to the ongoing tensions with North Korea, this risk from this neighbouring country can change without little notice. Please check local and international news reports during your stay.
South Korea hold nationwide civil emergency exercises monthly apart from January, February, July and December. Do not be alarmed but simply follow the instructions to locate to the nearest shelter. This is held on the 15th of each month and participants are asked to take shelter, transport is halted and sirens are sounded. Seoul has specially marked shelters which can be used. It is not mandatory for foreign visitors to take part in the proceedings however it is wise to note what is to be done in such an event.
There is a low threat from domestic terrorism, please be mindful that there is a global escalated presence of extremist terrorism especially against western targets.
Crime against visitors is low and tourists are not particularly targeted, South Korea has a more liberal atmosphere compared to North Korea.
If normal security measures are undertaken your stay should be one without incident. Avoid walking alone after dark, be aware of your surroundings and please keep your possessions secure at all times. There have been some reports of sexual assaults, please take precautions especially when socialising in the bars and entertainment districts.
There have been known demonstrations in the country of which do have the potential to turn violent, if you are caught up in such a public gathering please make your way to a safe area.
South Korea has well-formed international ties, and has been a member of the United Nations since 1991. The South Korean Foreign Minister has good relations with Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General, and is a well-known and prominent international figure. South Korea holds many free trade agreements throughout the world and holds strong diplomatic ties with the ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam).
There is an on-going dispute with North Korea, but currently there is an active amnesty. Please see our North Korea page for further information and history.
Please note that there is a typhoon season which operates from June to November, this can incur heavy rains and possible localised flooding. July is the wettest month and severe rainstorms can occur causing landslides.
Heavy penalties can be given to drivers who are deemed at fault when involving motorcycles and pedestrians. An international driving permits can be used to drive in South Korea and you must ensure that you take out comprehensive insurance as the cost of vehicle repair can be huge.
There is an alarmingly high road mortality rate in South Korea and it is advised that if you are operating a vehicle, you are mindful of other road users, adhere to regulations and drive defensively with an awareness of your surroundings, even if other drivers do not.
Only use officially marked taxis, and avoid using taxi services alone at night.
Religion: Buddhism and Christian
Currency: South Korean won
Time now in Seoul:
Most foreign nationals will be able to enter South Korea without a visa for up to 90 days but you may be asked to provide evidence of onward travel or a return journey home. Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the length of your stay. Further information can be found at the Visa information page
It is advised that visitors to South Korea are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases such as Tetanus which is usually administered when you are a young baby. You may also want to consider a Hepatitis A vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
Hospital facilities in South Korea are well maintained, however these may be expensive. You should ensure you have adequate funds to pay for treatment as well as comprehensive insurance which should be able to cover the cost of all medical requirements.
There are low numbers of prescribed foreign based medications so you should take sufficient supplies of basic medication. South Korean based products have been found to be out of date and you should avoid taking them at all costs.
U.S. Embassy Seoul
Telephone: +850 2 3817 485
British Embassy Seoul
Sejong-daero 19-gil 24,
Telephone: +82 02 3210 5500
Other useful info