Top events in South Korea

October
30

This harvest celebration takes place at Icheon, one hour's bus journey from central Seoul. Activities include rice-cake making and there’s...

April
01

Foodies will enjoy this Seoul event showcasing the best traditional and new cuisine from Korea and around the world. Cooks compete in various...

April
07

This curious event occurs due to a once a year low tide, which causes a walkway to appear that offers passage from the mainland to an island...

Seokguram Grotto, South Korea
Pin This
Open Media Gallery

Seokguram Grotto, South Korea

© iStockphoto / Thinkstock

South Korea Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

99,720 sq km (38,502 sq miles) excluding demilitarised zone.

Population

49 million (2013).

Population density

490.9 per sq km.

Capital

Seoul.

Government

Republic since 1945.

Head of state

President Park Geun-hye since 2013.

Head of government

Prime Minister Jung Hong-won since 2013.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 60Hz. Round two-pin plugs are used.

The quantity of beautiful national parks, remote beaches, islands in the south, and rugged mountain peaks make Korea a stunningly diverse country and one that is great for outdoor adventures. Tradition juts up against technology as skyscrapers and temples coexist. No matter how much you know (or don't know) about Korea’s customs or etiquette, if you arrive here with a friendly smile and a sincere and respectful attitude, you will be welcomed with open arms. Koreans are fiercely proud of their country and have good reason to be.

Until relatively recently, Korea was an insular place, existing under dynastic rule for centuries, with hundreds, some say thousands, of invasions over the centuries. However, the 35-year Japanese occupation from 1910, the split of the peninsula after WWII and the subsequent Korean War shattered all that. Difficult times have however made the Koreans a resilient lot, succeeding economically whilst still holding onto their unique traditions and fascinating culture.

The demilitarised zone, the border between North and South Korea is an eerie place - the tension is so trumped up it seems it should be a Hollywood film set, yet there is no denying the barbed wire or the potential attack by the North. In the rest of the country, Korea is littered with fortresses, temples and palaces, many of them UNESCO World Heritage sites, making a trip here rich with discovery.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 19 October 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

On 10 October activists in South Korea released balloons near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) border containing anti-DPRK leaflets. The DPRK responded by firing at the balloons, prompting an exchange of fire between South Korean and DPRK military. Avoid any future balloon launches and follow the advice of the local authorities.

The typhoon season normally runs from June to November. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms.

Yellow dust pollution is common in South Korea during spring months. When the concentration levels of dust particles are high, residents and visitors are advised to stay indoors as much as possible, close windows and drink plenty of water. This is particularly important for the elderly and those with respiratory problems. Follow local media reporting and the Korean Meteorological Service website for latest advice.

It’s not possible to enter North Korea from South Korea without special permission.

The South Korean authorities normally hold nationwide civil emergency exercises on the 15th day of the month, eight times a year. Sirens are sounded, transport stopped and some people are asked to take shelter in metro stations or basements.

There is a low threat from terrorism.

Around 100,000 British nationals visit South Korea every year. Most visits are trouble-free.  

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Newsletter