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Country Profile

South Korea

The Republic of Korea (South Korea or ROK) is a highly developed, stable, democratic republic with powers shared between the president and the legislature.  It has a modern economy, and tourist facilities are widely available.  English is often not spoken outside the main tourist and business centers. Please read the Department of State Background Notes on South Korea for additional information.

South Korea


Image of South Korea
Country Name: South Korea (the Republic of Korea)
Continent: Asia
Capital City: Seoul
Boundary Countries: North Korea 238 km
Recommended Hospitals in Capital: Gyeongsang National University Hospital (Chinju), Chunchon Sacred Heart Hospital (Gangwon-Do), Wonju Christian Hospital (Gangwon-Do), Severance Mental Health Hospital (Gyeonggi-Do), Yongin Hospital (Gyeonggi-Do), Pusan National University Hospital, Hangang Sacred Heart Hospital (Seoul), Kangbuk Samsung Hospital (Seoul), Kangdong Sacred Heart Hospital (Seoul), Kangnam Sacred Heart Hospital (Seoul), Samsung Medical Center (Seoul), Seoul National University Hospital, Severance Hospital (Seoul), Yongdong Hospital (Seoul).
Main Cities: Seoul, Mokp’o, Ulsan, Pusan, Yuson, Kwangju, Masan, P’ohang, Taegu, Taejôn, Wônju, Tonghhae, Inch’ón, Chônju, Kangnûng, Yosu.
Country Size: 98,480 sq km
Population: 49,044,790



Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school.

Currency: South Korean Won (KRW)
Predominant Religions:

Christian 26.3% (Protestant 19.7%, Roman Catholic 6.6%), Buddhist 23.2%, other or unknown 1.3%, none 49.3%.

National Holidays: Liberation Day, 15 August (1945)
Economic Status:

Moderate inflation, low unemployment, an export surplus, and fairly equal distribution of income characterize this solid economy.


Army, Navy, Republic of Korea Air Force (Han-guk Kong Goon), Marine Corps, National Maritime Police (coast guard).

US Presence:

Embassy in Seoul.

Document Requirements:

A passport is required. U.S. passport holders may enter the Republic of Korea without a visa for a stay of up to 90 days for tourism or business. When staying for more than 90 days or for any purpose other than tourism or business, the U.S. passport holder must obtain a visa prior to entry. Americans visiting Korea for employment or profit-making purposes, teaching English, or planning to stay more than 90 days must obtain a visa at a Korean embassy or consulate abroad. Generally, individuals staying in Korea for longer than 90 days must also apply for an Alien Registration Card, once in Korea. Individuals who desire to stay longer than their authorized period of stay must apply to Korean Immigration for an extension in advance of the expiration of their authorized period of stay.. Individuals who stay in Korea longer than the period authorized by Korean Immigration without applying for an extension are subject to fines and may be required to pay the fines before departing the country. Changes of status from one type of visa to another (from tourism to teaching, for example) are normally not granted in the Republic of Korea and must be obtained at a Korean embassy or consulate in another country after departing Korea. 

Active-duty U.S. military personnel may enter the Republic of Korea under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with proper Department of Defense (DOD) identification and travel orders. Every civilian accompanying the force (including DOD civilian employees, invited contractors, and family members) must have a valid passport to enter Korea and should obtain an A-3 SOFA visa prior to arrival in Korea. Active duty military personnel should obtain a tourist passport prior to leaving the U.S. to accommodate off-duty travel elsewhere in Asia. DOD travelers should consult the DOD Foreign Clearance Guide before leaving the United States.

South Korean officials take the temperature of all passengers upon arrival. Individuals having a temperature or exhibiting cold or flu like symptoms may be quarantined on arrival in South Korea.

Exit permits are not required to leave Korea. However, if a parent requests through the Korea Immigration Service that a travel restriction be placed on a child, the child is likely to be prevented from departing Korea.
For the most current visa information,contact the Consular Section of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea at 2320 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 939-5660, or see the Korean Embassy website at http://www.koreaembassyusa.org/. Republic of Korea consulates are also located in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Guam, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Seattle. The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a website directory of all Korean diplomatic missions worldwide in Korean and in English at http://www.mofat.go.kr/index.jsp.
For information on E2 visas for English teachers, customs, dual nationality, and military service in Korea, see “Special Circumstances” below.

Korea does not have a written policy regarding entry to Korea for foreigners with HIV/AIDS. However, Section 11 of the Korean Immigration law stipulates that an immigration officer has the right to deny entry to those who may have communicable diseases. Also, E-6 visa applicants such as singers, dancers, or other entertainment workers have to submit HIV/AIDS test results in order to be eligible for that visa category.

Major Airports:

Airports:  107, Airports w/paved runways:  69

Servicing Airlines:
Risks and Precautions:

The participation of troops as part of the coalition in Iraq raises the potential for violent actions against Korean and U.S. Government facilities and personnel in Korea. Nevertheless, American citizens in the Republic of Korea can minimize personal risks to themselves and their property by exercising caution and avoiding areas in which demonstrations are being held. Although the crime rate in the Republic of Korea is low, there is a higher incidence of pick-pocketing, purse snatching, assault, hotel room and residential burglary, and residential crime in major metropolitan areas, such as Seoul and Busan, than elsewhere in Korea. U.S. citizens are more likely to be targeted in known tourist areas, such as Itaewon and large market areas downtown. Incidents of rape have been reported in popular nightlife districts in Seoul, as well as in the victims’ residences.

Mortality Statistics:

Infant MR total:  6.05 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:  TOTAL 77.23 years  (male 73.81/female 80.93).

Immunization Indicators:

Required: None

Recommended: Hep A & B, Typhoid, Rabies, Boosters: MMR, DPT.

Infectious Disease Concerns:

Malaria risk area in South Korea: Risk limited to demilitarized zone (DMZ) and to rural areas in the northern parts of Kyonggi and Kangwon provinces.

Dengue, filariasis, Japanese encephalitis, leishmaniasis, and plague are diseases carried by insects that also occur in East Asia. Tickborne encephalitis occurs in forested regions in northeastern China and in South Korea. Respiratory infections (origins often undefined) are common in travelers to East Asia.

Measles remains endemic in the region, and infection has occurred in adopted children from China and in travelers to the region.  Influenza may occur during all months of the year.

Leptospirosis is a risk, especially in tropical areas of China and South Korea.

HIV/AIDS– people living with HIV/AIDS: 8,300


Overall Quality of Medical Services:

Hospitals in Korea are generally well-equipped with state-of-the-art diagnostic and therapeutic equipment. High quality general and specialty dental care is available in Seoul. Western-style medical facilities are available in major urban areas of Seoul, Busan, Daegu, and a few other large cities. However, not all doctors and staff in these major urban areas are proficient in English. Most clinics in rural areas do not have an English-speaking doctor. Pharmacies are first-rate and most prescribed medications, except psychotropic medications, can be obtained with a prescription. Korean ambulances do not carry sophisticated medical equipment and the ambulance personnel do not have the same level of emergency medical training as in the United States. However, ambulances operated by the fire department (dial 119) will respond very quickly and take patients to the nearest hospital. 

Providers in Network:
Direct Payment: 9
Referrals: 60
View Network Providers
Recent Medical Threats/ Concerns/Warnings:

Highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) continues to cause outbreaks in domestic and wild bird populations and has caused human cases in several East Asian countries. Avoid all direct contact with birds, including domestic poultry (such as chickens and ducks) and wild birds, and avoid places such as poultry farms and bird markets where live birds are raised or kept. 

Communications Info:

Country Code: 82 
Internet Code:  .kr


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