south korea reopening

South Korea is Open for Tourism but with Very Strict Restrictions

South Korea is open for visitors from all countries as long as they obtain the proper visa and agree to quarantine for 14 days, even the vaccinated ones.

Also, all visitors must bring a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours before departure. 

Most visitors must quarantine at a government-designated facility at their own expense. This requirement applies to all visitors for tourism or business purposes who don’t have family or long term residence permit in the country.

In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, the South Korean government has strengthened its visa screening and quarantine process for all travelers.

Disclaimer: Travel restrictions and governmental regulations can change rapidly and the information below might be outdated within a few hours. Therefore, double-check all information with your embassy or on official websites. Traveling Lifestyle does not take any responsibility for your decision to travel.

South Korea Reopening – Latest Updates

Korea reopening for tourism

May 12 – South Korea has extended current domestic restrictions and created a new “fast track” entry for essential business trips.

Regardless of whether or not travelers are vaccinated, everyone who is allowed to enter the country must quarantine for 14 days at a government-approved facility, at a cost of USD $100-140 per night. 

For those who need to enter the country for essential business, authorities have created a “fast track” entry for travelers from mainland China, Japan, UAE, Vietnam, and Indonesia. These business visitors must agree to pre-departure testing, take another COVID-19 test upon arrival, await the result before entering South Korea, and abide by health surveillance procedures.

Domestic restrictions have been extended through at least May 23. Nonessential public gatherings of more than four people remain banned nationwide but groups of up to 8 direct family members are allowed. Everyone must wear a facemask in public and indoor areas. 

April 27 – South Korea to tighten domestic restrictions

South Korea has had to tighten multiple restrictions due to a surge in COVID-19 cases. 

As of today, all non-essential public gatherings of more than four people are banned in all the territory. Additionally, the correct use of facemasks is mandatory in all public indoor areas and gatherings. 

People who refuse to wear their facemasks properly will face fines. Allowed private events, sports competitions and religious gatherings are allowed at 30% capacity.

April 8 – Korea temporary bans AstraZeneca vaccine

Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun spoke earlier this week about the big blow that it would represent for the economy if the second wave of COVID-19 becomes a reality.

Authorities seem to be seriously concerned about the disruption of their vaccination plan, due to the temporary suspension of the AstraZeneca vaccine the country decided to implement yesterday on people below 60.

The potential side effects, the temporary ban European countries have enforced, and the announcements of the European Medical Agency (EMA) that shows that some cases of blood clotting in adults -especially in women- may be associated to that particular vaccine, has the goal of reaching herd immunity by November hanging by a thread. 

South Korea’s Health Minister warns of 4th wave of COVID-19

March 24

South Korea is negotiating travel bubbles with several countries. Travelers within the bubble would be able to forgo quarantine and other requirements. The country’s authorities have not yet released the list of territories that could be included but Australia and Japan seem to be on the list. (Source)

March 5

South Korea’s vaccination program has finally started this week. As of today, over 225,800 people have received at least one shot of the vaccine according to data from the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Everything was going well, until 7 people died after receiving the AstraZeneca jab. The government is currently investigating these cases. 

Vaccination progress in South Korea

Is South Korea open for tourism?

Yes, South Korea is open for tourism but with multiple restrictions. Visitors must get tested and undergo a 14-days quarantine after arrival.

Who can travel to South Korea?

South Korea Reopening

People from most countries can visit South Korea but different restrictions apply. 

Is South Korea Open to Americans? 

Yes. However, all Americans need to observe a mandatory 14-day quarantine and pre-departure testing. Find the complete list of requirements at the ROK COVID-19 Portal and the Korean Immigration Service

Is there a quarantine upon arrival in South Korea?

Unlike many other states, where a negative test is sufficient to allow individuals to continue onwards, South Korea has acknowledged the fact that exposure could well happen on the flight into the country.

As a result, most arriving international passengers are re-tested on arrival and then must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine regardless of the test results. The cost of quarantine is around KRW 2,100,000 in total and should be paid in advance.

Once the quarantine period is up, individuals are allowed to move freely around the country.

For the most up to date information, please visit the South Korean Ministry of Health website.

South Korea During the Pandemic

Covid-19 situation in South Korea

With a population of more than 51 million, South Korea is about a sixth the size of the United States but has an incredibly high population density.

Its capital and largest city, Seoul, has a population of more than 9 million, making it larger than New York City. Additionally, with high-speed trains and domestic flights, it’s a tightly linked country. Combined with its proximity to China and the sheer amount of trade between the two countries, many would expect South Korea to suffer greatly.

But it hasn’t. Instead, South Korean authorities quickly began a comprehensive testing protocol whenever individuals were found to have symptoms of Covid-19.

Is it safe to visit South Korea now?

Regarding COVID-19, South Korea is moderately safe and the spread of the virus is under control. (

What is the current COVID situation in South Korea?

As of May 12, South Korea has reported 128,918 positive COVID cases, and 1,884 deaths caused by the virus.

Why visit South Korea?

Once a traveler is in South Korea and out of quarantine, life largely looks like it did before the pandemic.

Trains, buses, and domestic flights are all operating at full capacity, and museums, shopping centers, and just about every other amenity one could think of are open to tourists. For those willing or able to wait for two weeks, South Korea is looking like pre-COVID South Korea.

Of course, there are some changes worth noting. Individuals are expected to wear a mask and social distance, and unlike the US, compliance is mandatory.

Not wearing a mask in public will get one in trouble with the authorities, and even before the police arrive will result in considerable consternation from the locals. After all, this is a country that is acutely aware that it is lucky through this whole ordeal precisely because it came together.

For those with the ability and need to go to South Korea, visiting the country can be an incredible experience. In addition to everything else that South Korea has to offer, the reduced stress of being in a country that has largely handled the pandemic will be a relief to many.

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