I receive a lot of questions from people wanting to travel to Korea amid the pandemic but who don’t know the current situation in Korea. In this sense, i decided to compile a few information regarding traveling to Korea for my fellow foreigners.
In this article I’ll provide information about whether you can travel to Korea now, whether it’s safe to do so , and do my best to provide lots of tips about how to travel safely in Korea during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before visiting Korea
First of all, before planing your trip you need to be aware of the country’s regulations.
As the pandemic striked, Korea quickly froze its policy of Visa free entry with many countries to limit the affluence of people.
The Korean Immigration Service also stated that people from any country that bans the entry of Korean nationals will not be allowed entrance into Korea in response.
Please refer to the official list here issued by the immigration office.
Now for foreigners residing in Korea on long-term visas, you will have to apply for a re-entry permit before leaving Korea. Leaving Korea without Re-Entry Permit will result in cancellation of their Alien Registration in accordance to Article 37 of Immigration Act. In such cases, the foreigner must obtain a new long-term visa before re-entering Korea.
Furthermore, they have to show a negative coronavirus test or medical certificate from the country they are visiting before they board the flight back to Korea.
As of January 4th of 2021, all foreigners entering the Republic of Korea (Effective from 08 January 2021) must have on hand a negative COVID-19 PCR test result issued within 72 hours of their departure. List of MOH-approved COVID-19 Test Providers (link)
Log your symptoms
All travelers should install the Self Diagnosis Mobile App and record their daily health status on the app for 14 days after arrival in Korea. Please click the link below.
Check out: ncov.mohw.go.kr/selfcheck
Upon Arrival to Korea
Whether you are on a tourist or a long term visa, every person arriving to Korea has to quarantine for 14days. As it is mandatory, if you refuse you will be sent back to where you came from.
For those on a long-term visa living in a private residence, they can self quarantine in it. However, for students if you live in dorms you will have to do your quarantine elsewhere before entering dorms. You can also check with your school, some dormitories allow quarantine you should contact them beforehand.
For those with a short-term visa (i.e. tourists), they must self quarantine at a designated government facility when they enter the country. The cost of these facilities is 150,000 KRW per day, which is a total of 2,100,000 KRW (about $1,750 USD). These facilities provide accommodation and food. However, you can also check yourself the designated facilities and make a reservation on the one you want Or check some airbnbs. Note that some facilities only do it, many Airbnb host refuse so make sure to ask them beforehand.
During the process of your quarantine, you will first do the COVID19 test on your arrival then you’ll have to stay in your designated place and not leave until your quarantine is over. They will be checking on you everyday to note if you have any symptoms. The government is very strict about it and if you leave you risk to pay a fee and be deported.
Once your quarantine is over you will re-do another test to make sure you’re negative and you’re safe to go.
The current situation in Korea
So far, the government has dealt with the pandemic really well. We were recently hit with a third wave which was harder than the previous ones and the level of social distancing was raised to the highest.
The situation got better now and coffee shops are open as well as restaurants and malls. Universities will still maintain online classes as it is the safest for now.
Please note that you will have to wear a mask it is mandatory even if you are not sick otherwise you will be faced with a fee. Especially when you are taking public transport, the bus driver will not hesitate to call you out for not wearing a mask or not wearing it properly. So please be considerate and cooperate.
Regarding masks, Korea has plenty of them for reasonable prices whether in the pharmacy or underground. There are several different types of masks that you can use to prevent infection from the coronavirus in Korea. I’d recommend using a mask with a safety rating of N95 or KF94.
Finally, i would say Korea is a very safe country overall with lots to see but please be careful and try to avoid crowds, wash your hands often and keep your masks. Have a nice trip~