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Can I drink tap water in Seoul?

Can I Drink Tap Water in Seoul?

In recent years, South Korea has become a popular destination for tourists and expats alike. One of the most common questions people have when traveling or moving to a new country is whether the tap water is safe to drink. In this article, we will explore the safety of tap water in Seoul and what you need to know before you take a sip.

The Short Answer

The short answer is yes, tap water in Seoul is safe to drink. According to the Ministry of Environment, South Korea’s tap water meets all of the World Health Organization’s guidelines for drinking water quality. This means that it is free from harmful contaminants and bacteria that could make you sick.

Water Treatment Process in Seoul

Seoul has a comprehensive water treatment process that ensures the safety of its tap water. The city sources its water from the Han River, which is treated at one of six purification plants before it is distributed to households and businesses. The treatment process includes sedimentation, coagulation, filtration, and disinfection with chlorine and ozone.

Bottled Water vs. Tap Water

While tap water in Seoul is safe to drink, many people still prefer to drink bottled water. This is largely due to personal preference or concerns about taste. However, bottled water can be expensive and generates a lot of plastic waste. If you are looking to reduce your environmental impact and save money, drinking tap water in Seoul is a great option.

Boiling Tap Water

If you are still concerned about the safety of tap water in Seoul, boiling it can be an effective way to kill any remaining bacteria or viruses. However, this is not necessary for most people as the water treatment process already removes harmful contaminants.

Using Water Filters

If you prefer the taste of filtered water, you can use a water filter pitcher or attachable faucet filter. These filters can remove chlorine taste and odor, as well as some heavy metals and organic compounds. However, they are not necessary for removing harmful contaminants from Seoul’s tap water.

Drinking Fountains

Drinking fountains are a convenient way to access tap water in public places. While most drinking fountains in Seoul are safe to use, some may not be regularly maintained or cleaned. It is important to use your judgement and avoid drinking from fountains that appear dirty or have an unusual odor.

Ice Cubes

If you are ordering drinks at a restaurant or bar in Seoul, it is important to note that some places may use ice cubes made from tap water. While this is generally safe, if you have a sensitive stomach or are concerned about the quality of the ice, you can request drinks without ice or ask if they use filtered water for their ice cubes.

Travelling Outside of Seoul

If you are traveling outside of Seoul, it is important to research the quality of tap water in the area you will be visiting. While most major cities in South Korea have safe tap water, some smaller towns and rural areas may not have the same level of water treatment infrastructure.


In conclusion, tap water in Seoul is safe to drink and meets all of the World Health Organization’s guidelines for drinking water quality. While some people may prefer bottled or filtered water for personal reasons, drinking tap water in Seoul is a great option for reducing plastic waste and saving money. By following basic hygiene practices and using your judgement when accessing public drinking fountains or ordering drinks with ice, you can enjoy Seoul’s tap water safely and confidently.


  • Ministry of Environment. (2021). Tap Water Quality in Korea. Retrieved from
  • World Health Organization. (2017). Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality. Retrieved from

Can you brush your teeth with tap water in Korea?

Tap water in Korea is safe to use for personal hygiene, including brushing your teeth and washing your face. It is also safe to drink and purified water is readily available through water coolers found in homes, office buildings, hotels, hospitals, and restaurants.

Can you drink tap water in Busan?

In South Korea, it is generally safe to drink tap water as the country has high-quality water. However, there are some areas that have less clean water, but these are usually clearly labeled and can be easily avoided.

Is Korea tap water safe to drink reddit?

Although many people argue against it, government officials have declared that tap water is safe to drink. Personally, I have been drinking tap water for years without experiencing any negative effects. However, others believe that it is necessary to filter or avoid tap water altogether. But I can confirm that tap water is completely safe to drink.

Does Seoul have access to clean water?

In Korea, almost everyone has access to clean water and proper sewage services, pollution is under control, and there are no cases of illnesses caused by contaminated water. This was achieved as of October 26, 2016.

Can Americans drink tap water in Korea?

The straightforward response is that the water is safe for drinking.

Can foreigners drink water in Korea?

Although tap water in Korea is safe to drink, many Koreans prefer to boil or filter it before consuming it. However, if you are visiting or living in South Korea, you do not need to take any extra precautions with the water before drinking it.

Water Conservation in Seoul

While tap water in Seoul is safe to drink, it is important to remember that water is a precious resource that should be conserved whenever possible. South Korea has experienced water shortages in the past, and the country’s water usage per capita is higher than the global average. By practicing simple water conservation methods, individuals can help ensure that there is enough clean water for everyone.

Some ways to conserve water include turning off the tap while brushing your teeth or washing dishes, fixing leaky faucets, taking shorter showers, and using a broom instead of a hose to clean outdoor areas. In addition, Seoul has implemented a number of initiatives to reduce water usage, such as promoting low-flow toilets and showerheads and using recycled wastewater for non-potable uses.

Water Quality Testing

While Seoul’s tap water is regularly tested to ensure its safety, individuals may still want to test their own tap water for their peace of mind. There are home testing kits available that can test for various contaminants such as lead or bacteria. Alternatively, individuals can send samples of their tap water to a laboratory for more comprehensive testing.


Seoul’s tap water is safe to drink and meets all of the World Health Organization’s guidelines for drinking water quality. By utilizing basic hygiene practices and being mindful of water conservation efforts, individuals can enjoy Seoul’s tap water without any concerns. However, if individuals have any doubts or concerns about the quality of their tap water, they can always test it themselves or contact their local water authority for more information.

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