Traveling Luck for South Korea

South Korea is located in Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea.

South Korea has borders with North Korea for 238km.

Land in South Korea is mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south.

Korean land covers an area of 98480 square kilometers which is slightly larger than Indiana

As for the Korean climate; temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter.

Korean(s) speak Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school.

Korean National Map

Korean Map

Regions of South Korea

Korea was an independent kingdom for much of the past millennium. Following its victory in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, Japan occupied Korea; five years later it formally annexed the entire peninsula. After World War II, a Republic of Korea (ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north (the DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), US troops and UN forces fought alongside soldiers from the ROK to defend South Korea from DPRK attacks supported by China and the Soviet Union. An armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth with per capita income rising to roughly 14 times the level of North Korea. In 1993, KIM Yo'ng-sam became South Korea's first civilian president following 32 years of military rule. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy. In June 2000, a historic first North-South summit took place between the South's President KIM Dae-jung and the North's leader KIM Jong Il.


South Korea Country Profile

Since the early 1960s, South Korea has achieved an incredible record of growth and integration into the high-tech modern world economy. Four decades ago, GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. In 2004, South Korea joined the trillion dollar club of world economies. Today its GDP per capita is equal to the lesser economies of the EU. This success through the late 1980s was achieved by a system of close government/business ties, including directed credit, import restrictions, sponsorship of specific industries, and a strong labor effort. The government promoted the import of raw materials and technology at the expense of consumer goods and encouraged savings and investment over consumption. The Asian financial crisis of 1997-99 exposed longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios, massive foreign borrowing, and an undisciplined financial sector. GDP plunged by 6.9% in 1998, then recovered 9.5% in 1999 and 8.5% in 2000. Growth fell back to 3.3% in 2001 because of the slowing global economy, falling exports, and the perception that much-needed corporate and financial reforms had stalled. Led by consumer spending and exports, growth in 2002 was an impressive 7%, despite anemic global growth. Between 2003 and 2005, growth moderated to about 4%. A downturn in consumer spending was offset by rapid export growth. In 2005, the government proposed labor reform legislation and a corporate pension scheme to help make the labor market more flexible, and new real estate policies to cool property speculation. Moderate inflation, low unemployment, an export surplus, and fairly equal distribution of income characterize this solid economy.

Korean natural resources include coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential

strategic location on Korea Strait

Korean religion is no affiliation 46%, Christian 26%, Buddhist 26%, Confucianist 1%, other 1%.

Natural hazards in South Korea include occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest.

Travel Advice on South Korea

Korea, Republic of (ROK - South Korea)

This advice has been reviewed with an amendment to the Summary, Political Situation section (reference to nuclear test in October), Demonstrations, Entry Requirements (working), Health section (Avian Influenza), and General section (registering with the British Embassy).  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – North Korea) reported carrying out a nuclear test on 9 October 2006.  There is no evidence of any danger to those living in the ROK (South Korea) as a result of this test.  Further developments in the North Korea could potentially give rise to regional tension.  Please see the Political Situation section of this travel advice for more information.

  • It is recommended that if you come to South Korea for longer than two weeks you should register with the Consular Section of the British Embassy.  You should also follow developments in the region closely.

  • It is not possible to enter North Korea from South Korea.

  • The threat from terrorism in the South Korea is low.  But you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • Around 67,000 British nationals visit South Korea every year.  Most visits are trouble-free.  The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in South Korea is for replacing lost passports, working without the correct documentation and arrests for minor offences.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Political Situation
 
Republic of Korea Country Profile.

Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, the Korean peninsula has been divided in two by a de-militarised zone separating South and North Korea.  Peace has been maintained under an Armistice Agreement. 

North Korea reported carrying out a nuclear test on 9 October 2006.  Evidence suggests that North Korea carried out an underground nuclear test.  However, there is no evidence of any danger to those resident in South Korea as a result of this test.  Based on the information available at the time of writing we believe that there is no cause for alarm for British nationals resident in South Korea.  Nonetheless, developments in the North Korea could potentially give rise to regional tension.

Demonstrations 
Demonstrations are common in South Korea.  They are normally peaceful, however in the past some have become violent.  You should avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings and monitor local media.
Local Travel
It is not possible for you to travel direct to North Korea from South Korea.

Taxi drivers tend to speak little or no English.  Have your destination written in Korean, with a map for private addresses, as it can be difficult to locate them otherwise.
Road Safety
An International Driving Permit is needed to drive in South Korea.  You should ensure that you also have fully comprehensive insurance.
South Korea has one of the highest rates of traffic death in the world.  Car and motorbike drivers are presumed to be at fault in accidents involving motorcycles or pedestrians.  Criminal charges and heavy penalties are common when accidents result in injury, even if guilt is not proved.  You should watch out for motorcycles travelling at speed on pavements.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

You should carry some form of identification at all times and ensure your next-of-kin details have been entered into the back of your passport.
You are subject to local laws, which can be more severe than in the UK for similar offences.  A serious violation may lead to a jail or a death sentence. 

Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs can result in long jail sentences and heavy fines.  This applies even to personal use of small amounts of marijuana.  British nationals have been detained solely on the basis of drug tests. 

Any jail sentence would be served in South Korea.  Often, usually where less serious offences are concerned, convicted foreigners may instead be deported.  The same may apply to foreigners convicted of offences not involving a prison sentence.  If you are deported you may be banned from returning to South Korea for several years.
There is no legal barrier to homosexual relationships, but some prejudice exists among the older generation.  Younger Koreans are more liberal and gay rights organisations are gaining support.  The gay scene, although small, is well established and growing in visibility.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

Holders of British Citizen passports can enter South Korea for tourist purposes for up to 90 days without a visa.  Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the date you intend to enter South Korea and you must have an onward or return ticket. 

Visas are required for all other purposes.  It is illegal to work on a tourist visa in South Korea, whether as a teacher or in any other capacity.  If you wish to work you should contact the nearest South Korean Diplomatic Mission before you travel for information on obtaining the appropriate documentation.  In addition, you should research the educational establishment or company where you intend to work as thoroughly as possible.  Please see the General section of this travel advice if you are considering a teaching job in South Korea.

Holders of all other types of British passport should contact the nearest South Korean Diplomatic Mission before travelling for information about the visa requirements.  Republic of Korea representation in the UK.
If you are a British male of Korean origin, whose name appears on your Korean family register, you should be aware that you may be liable for military service, even if travelling on your British passport.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the nearest South Korean Diplomatic Mission.


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before departure.  You should ensure that your insurance covers the costs of medical repatriation if you need complex hospital treatment.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see:  Travel Insurance.

Medical and dental care in South Korea is usually of a good standard but can be expensive.  Staff often do not speak English.

You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date.  For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at:  www.dh.gov.uk.
Avian Influenza (Bird Flu)
There were 19 cases of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) reported in South Korea between 10 December 2003 and 20 March 2004, in a number of different areas including Eumsung, Chunan, Kyungju, Naju, Icheon, Hincheon, Ulsan, Yangsan, Asan and Yangju.  The Korean authorities took immediate action by slaughtering around five million birds.  Since late November 2006, there have been three further reported outbreaks of Avian Influenza among domesticated poultry in South Korea.  The Korean authorities have destroyed poultry and other livestock in a specified zone surrounding the areas and have established a poultry quarantine zone and movement controls in order to prevent the spread of the virus.  The Korean authorities are on the alert for any further outbreaks.  No human infections or deaths have been reported.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low.  As a precaution you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
You should read this advice in conjunction with the Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet, which gives more detailed advice and information.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see:  What We Can Do To Help.
English is not widely spoken in South Korea.
Mobile telephones purchased outside South Korea will not normally work in the country.

If you are staying for more than two weeks, we strongly encourage y9ou to register with the Consular Section of the British Embassy.  You can find contingency guidance information on the Consular Services Section of the British Embassy website:  http://www.britishembassy.or.kr.

Money

The local currency is South Korea Won.  It is almost impossible to change Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes.  Credit cards are not always accepted outside major cities.  ATMs whilst widely available do not always accept foreign cards.
Employment
If you are considering a teaching job in South Korea, you should note that it is not possible to obtain a visa to teach English in South Korea without a four-year university degree or a three-year degree and relevant teaching qualification – a TEFL qualification alone is insufficient.  If you are found to have obtained a teaching visa by submitting fraudulent documents, even if unknowingly produced by a third party, you will be detained and deported.  You should also be aware that complaints are frequently received from British nationals teaching English in South Korea about problems arising from living or working conditions that do not meet expectations and complications, and over obtaining the correct visas and residence permits.  There have also been complaints of breach of contract, confiscation of passports, and of payment being withheld also of inadequate or no medical insurance.  Check that all terms and conditions of employment are clearly stated before accepting an offer and signing a contract.  Where possible ask to speak to other teachers from the educational establishment when you plan to work before accepting any offer.  You should note that written contracts are not necessarily considered binding documents and verbal agreements often take precedence.  It is illegal to work in South Korea on a tourist visa.  For those in possession of a work visa all employment changes must be authorised by Korean Immigration.
If you intend to travel to Busan, the contact details for the Honorary Consul are:
Honorary Consul Busan
12th Floor, Yoochang Building
25-2 Chungang-dong 4 ga
Chung-gu
Busan
Korea
Tel:  +82 51 463 4630
Fax:  +82 51 463 0521