Official Travel Advice for South Korea
This advice has been reviewed in full, with a factual update to the Summary and Safety and security section (Political situation)
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Advice current as at 4:00 am 18 Jul 2019.
Around 140,000 British nationals visit South Korea every year. Most visits are trouble-free.
A revised Korean Traffic Law came into effect on 25 June 2019. See Road travel
The level of tension on the Korean Peninsula grew considerably in 2017 due to a series of North Korean nuclear and missile tests. On 21 April 2018, North Korea announced a halt to nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile testing.
Since the start of 2018, there has been renewed direct contact between the North and South Korean governments, and between North Korea and the United States. On 12 June 2018, US President Donald Trump met North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. In a joint statement, North Korea reaffirmed its previous commitment to denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. The Panmunjom Declaration signed at an inter-Korean summit on 27 April 2018, included a number of other commitments to build inter-Korean ties and reduce military tensions. A second summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, in Hanoi on 27 to 28 February 2019, ended without agreement. A further meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un took place on 30 June 2019 at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas, in which the two agreed that working-level negotiations would resume within weeks. In the past, periods of diplomatic engagement have failed to be sustained. This has led to further missile or nuclear tests by North Korea and a return to instability in the region. The level of tension and the security situation can therefore still change with little notice. Tensions usually rise around the time of South Korean-US military exercises. In the past, heightened tensions haven’t affected daily life. See Political situation
Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan effectively and stay safe. You can also sign up to our email alert service to be notified about future updates to this travel advice. See Contingency planning
The South Korean authorities provide advice on responding to civil emergencies, and hold regular nationwide civil emergency exercises. Sirens are sounded, transport stopped and some people are asked to take shelter in metro stations or basements. See Civil emergency exercises and advice
The typhoon season normally runs from June to November. You should monitor the progress of approaching storms and follow the instructions of the local authorities. See Natural disasters
Public demonstrations are mostly peaceful and well-policed, but the risk of violence remains. You should take extra care as in any crowded place. See Safety and security
Air pollution, including yellow dust pollution, is common in South Korea throughout the year and especially during spring months. See Health
It’s not possible to enter North Korea from South Korea.
Although there is no recent history of terrorism in South Korea, attacks can’t be ruled out. See Terrorism
If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
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.
Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.
Quick Facts Tourist Information for:South Korea
Drive on the:
Visitors/Tourists: 9,795,000 in 2011
Seoul (also largest city)
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Population: 10,581,728 (in 2011)