South Korea

South Korea

Use Normal Level of Caution

The Republic of Korea, South Korea, is in eastern Asia bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, and on the southern part of the Korean Peninsula bordering North Korea. The population is about 49 million people. While the official language is Korean, English is widely taught in schools.

The government is a republic with a president as chief of state and a prime minister as head of government. The president is elected by popular vote; and the president appoints the prime minister with the consent of the National Assembly.

At the end of World War II, Korea was divided into North and South Korea. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, starting the Korean War. This war ended in 1953 with no peace agreement. There is continued animosity between the two countries. After the Korean War, the South Korean economy grew significantly, and South Korea became a regional power in East Asia.

South Korea is considered to be a developed country with a very high standard of living. Visitors can enjoy historical and cultural sites, temples, pagodas, Korean cuisine, small islands, and national parks.

Currency KRW: South Korean won
Language Korean
Capital Seoul
Recent Alerts None
Latest Alert Not Available

Diseases To Be Aware Of

The diseases listed below are those which occur most often in South Korea. Other, less frequently encountered diseases might be displayed within the Travel Alerts section if they have occurred recently.

Typhoid Fever

Unvaccinated people can become infected through contaminated food and water in South Korea, especially when visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas, where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Malaria

CDC states that the risk of malaria is limited to the months of March to December in rural areas in the northern parts of Incheon, Kangwon-do, and Kyônggi-do Provinces, including the demilitarized zone (DMZ). NaTHNaC states that there is a very low risk of malaria in the northern areas of South Korea, in Gangwon-do and Gyeonggi-do Provinces, and Incheon City (towards the Demilitarized Zone or DMZ).

Hepatitis A

There is a significant risk for hepatitis A virus exposure in South Korea through contaminated food or water. Infection can still occur at tourist destinations and resorts.

Hepatitis B

There is a significant risk for acquiring hepatitis B in South Korea.

Japanese encephalitis

In South Korea, outbreaks of Japanese encephalitis occur countrywide, particularly from May to October. There is little risk in Seoul and other major cities. The risk for travellers of contracting Japanese encephalitis is low, but extensive outdoor activity in rural areas will increase this risk.

Tick-Borne Encephalitis

Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that occurs in forested areas of South Korea during the spring and summer.

Scrub Typhus

Scrub typhus generally occurs year-round in areas of South Korea.

Tuberculosis

Travellers to this country are at risk for tuberculosis if visiting sick friends or family, working in the health care field, or having close prolonged contact with the general population.

Rabies

Rabies occurs in this country. Travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk.

Vaccinations to Consider

The following is a list of recommended vaccinations for travelling to South Korea.

Hepatitis A Vaccine

There is a significant risk of exposure to Hepatitis A for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Hepatitis B Vaccine

There is a significant risk of infection with Hepatitis B for this country, therefore, the vaccination is recommended.

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

There is a risk of exposure to typhoid fever in this country through consumption of unsafe food and water. Since exposure to unsafe sources is variable within this country, the vaccination against typhoid fever is generally recommended, especially when visiting smaller cities or rural areas, where food and water sources may be contaminated.

Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine

Whether or not a traveller in this country should receive this vaccine depends considerably on the itinerary of the traveller. This disease does not usually occur in urban areas or large cities and thus vaccination may not be required for travellers. Vaccination is recommended for travellers with itineraries include visits to rural areas with extended outdoor activities.

Tick-Borne Encephalitis Vaccine

Travellers who plan to visit this country during the summer months and hike or camp in rural or forested areas that provide a habitat for the ticks that carry the virus should consider obtaining this vaccine. This vaccine is only available in Europe.

Rabies Vaccine

Vaccination against rabies is recommended for travellers involved in outdoor activities (e.g., campers, hikers, adventure travellers, and cavers) who may have direct contact with rabid dogs, bats, and other mammals. Those with occupational risks (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, researchers) and long-term travellers and expatriates are at higher risk and should be vaccinated.

Medications to Consider

The following is a list of recommended medications for travelling to South Korea.

Anti-malarial Drugs

In South Korea, due to the limited risk, the World Health Organization does not recommend anti-malaria medication, but the US CDC recommends atovaquone-proguanil, chloroquine, doxycycline, mefloquine, or primaquine where there is a risk.

Safety and Security in South Korea

Emergency Numbers

112
02-112 From a mobile phone

Personal Safety

Travellers should pay close attention to their personal security and continually monitor local news reports. Demonstrations and strikes should be avoided as they can become violent and confrontational without warning.

Valuables should be kept out of sight and backpacks and bags watched at all times. Crime against travellers is generally low, however, sexual assaults against foreigners have occurred. Travellers should avoid travelling or walking after dark and always remain aware of surroundings. Only use officially marked taxis. Do not travel alone. Ensure your personal belongings and travel documents are kept secured.

In recent years, North Korea risked war by sinking a South Korean naval vessel and shelling an island occupied by civilians. While the Korean Peninsula is quiet at the moment, travellers should remain alert to possible rapid changes in the situation.

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