Location: East Asia
Time zone: GMT/UTC plus 9 hours
Daylight savings time: no
Current time: 10:15
Currency: South Korean won
Dialling code: +82
Internet suffix: .kr
South Korea is an east Asian country known for its history, distinctive culture and high level of development.
Overall security situation: secure day-to-day but with noteworthy issues
Crime rate: extremely low
Murder rate: extremely low
Gun ownership levels: very low
Kidnapping hotspot: no
Maritime piracy hotspot: no
Do landmines/unexploded munitions pose a significant risk in parts of the country: no
South Korea is a very safe country on a day-to-day basis. Gun ownership levels and both the crime and murder rates are very low. Police coverage is very good and the judicial system is professional and well-resourced. Public institutions in general are highly resilient, well-resourced and capable.
However, ongoing tense relations with neighbouring North Korea means that the authorities are on a state of constant readiness for a potential conflict. While normal life continues day-to-day, diplomatic relations can frequently become terse. There have also been skirmishes and limited confrontations, sometimes causing fatalities in recent years. The hope is that North Korea would not risk the fundamental and widespread ramifications that it would inevitably suffer from the global community in the event that it increased its aggression towards Seoul in the future but the risk is present nonetheless.
Some elements of society are discontented and the country has a reputation for having a fairly healthy culture of civil society and public protest. Demonstrations are frequent and occasionally disruptive but they are usually non-violent.
Terrorism poses a very low level of risk but there is a theoretical threat posed by social/political trends like many other parts of the world.
Aviation safety levels: standard
Annual road fatality rates: moderate
Vehicles drive on the: right
Infrastructure quality: excellent
Urban ATM availability: very good
Electricity supply: 220V 60Hz
Electricity supply reliability: consistent
Plug types: C and F
Plug type C (2 round pins, not grounded/earthed)
Plug type F (2 round pins, grounded/earthed, socket compatible with plug types C and E)
Is tap water drinkable: yes but precautions are advised and/or occasional health scares have been reported which necessitate periodic care
Healthcare quality: very good healthcare provision
Infectious disease prevalence: extremely low*
* Note that there have been numerous cases of Covid-19 confirmed in the country
Travellers should consult a medical practitioner prior to their trip but the following vaccines may be considered before travelling to the country, depending on factors such as specific destination, planned activities, intended time and length of stay as well as personal medical conditions (in some cases no additional vaccines may be required at all):
- Hepatitis B (not always needed)
- Japanese encephalitis
- Rabies (usually only for long-term stays, or for those spending time in isolated areas or coming into contact with animals)
- Tick-borne encephalitis (usually only for those spending time in at-risk forested areas)
- Standard vaccinations (ie those commonly used in the developed world, such as diphtheria, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tuberculosis and tetanus)
Malaria risk: low
Yellow fever presence: no
Dengue fever prevalence: rare/non-existent
Rabies prevalence: high risk
HIV prevalence in society: low
Hepatitis A prevalence: low
Hepatitis B prevalence: high
Hepatitis E prevalence: not highly endemic
Cholera status: low risk
Chikungunya virus presence: not present
Zika virus presence: not recently reported
Japanese encephalitis presence: yes
Cutaneous leishmaniasis presence: non-endemic
Visceral leishmaniasis presence: non-endemic
Onchocerciasis presence: non-endemic
Schistosomiasis presence: none
Tick-borne encephalitis status: possible risk
Chagas disease presence: none
Typhoid fever presence: endemic
African trypanosomiasis presence: none
Plague status: not thought to be present
Rift Valley fever status: not present
Lassa fever status: not present
Polio status: not endemic
Ebola outbreaks: no
Meningococcal meningitis hotspot: no
Climate: temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter; cold winters
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south
Natural disaster risk: small level of risk
Natural hazards: typhoons (especially between June and November) as well as other storms; flooding; landslides
Tropical storms: common
Volcanic activity: low/none
Previous earthquake(s) with over 1,000 fatalities: no
Government type: republic
Socio-economic development score: 9/10 (very high levels of socio-economic development)
Adult literacy rate: 100%
Unemployment rate: very low
Civil liberties: some restrictions, usually mild
Investment rating: investment grade
Corruption levels: moderate
Same-sex sexual activity: legal
Death penalty: official punishment but not used in practice
Languages: Korean, English widely understood
Ethnic groups: Korean
Beliefs: Christian 31.6% (Protestant 24%, Roman Catholic 7.6%), Buddhist 24.2%, other or unknown 0.9%, none 43.3%
- The following advice has been compiled by travel safety specialists and ex-special forces personnel.
- However, please note that it is of a general nature only and may not reflect the reality of your circumstances.
- Ensure you have proper insurance cover in place.
- Select good quality accommodation and properly prepare for any tasks, excursions or other activities you have to undertake.
- Be mindful of local laws and cultural norms, bearing in mind that they might be different to what you are accustomed to.
Safe country guidelines
- Even in relatively safe parts of the world, accidents, illnesses and other incidents can still affect traveller safety.
- Make sure you know how to find help if you need it (such as the local emergency service numbers).
- There may still be a risk of opportunistic crime so be mindful of your belongings and take responsibility for your own actions.
- If rainfall, flooding, extreme temperatures or other types of severe weather are a concern, check the local weather patterns to find out if there are times of the year where the risk is much higher.
- Consider avoiding travel to at-risk destinations during these times.
- Try to stay in good quality accommodation.
- Take appropriate clothing and footwear.
- Take appropriate protection for any sensitive equipment you wish to bring.
- Note that storms, flooding and other types of harsh weather can overload infrastructure, lead to traffic jams and power cuts.
- Flooding and heavy rainfall can also raise the risk of landslides, as well as insect- and water-borne diseases in some parts of the world.
- As such, be prepared to delay, alter or even cancel travel plans to affected or high-risk areas.
Road traffic accident
- Be aware of local driving conditions and hazards.
- Drive defensively and adhere to speed limits to minimise the risk of being caught up in an accident, or request that your driver(s) do the same.
- If using a taxi or local driver, ensure that they are qualified and competent and that their vehicle appears well maintained.
- Ensure that vehicles are in good working order before travel.
- Perform regular checks on your vehicles for oil, fuel, tyres and seatbelts.
- Consider taking additional equipment such as a jack, spare tyres, water, blankets, torches and a first aid kit, especially if travelling to more rural or isolated areas.
- Consider using four-wheel drive vehicles for particularly poor road conditions.
- Car users should know how to perform emergency repairs.
- Civil unrest can lead to road closures and even curfews, which can affect your travel plans.
- Be prepared for delays and route alterations.
- Avoid demonstrations as they can turn violent.
- If demonstrations take place on a frequent basis, research the trends which tend to accompany them.
- Where do they tend to take place? Do they tend to turn violent? Do attendees target specific types of building or representative interests associated with a specific nationality, industry, political group (such as party political offices, state buildings or foreign-owned businesses)?
- Once you have identified the sorts of risks, trends and areas of higher risk to be avoided you can start planning to minimise your exposure.
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