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How can I legally live in Korea?


Living in Korea has become a popular choice for many people. However, to live in Korea legally, there are certain requirements that need to be met. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the process of legally living in Korea.

Visa Types

Korea offers different types of visas depending on the purpose of your stay. These include a work visa, student visa, and tourist visa. Each visa has specific requirements and limitations. It is important to research which visa is appropriate for your situation.

Work Visa

A work visa requires a job offer from a Korean company or institution. The company must sponsor your visa and provide documentation proving your employment. A work visa allows you to stay in Korea for up to three years and can be extended.

Student Visa

A student visa requires acceptance into a Korean educational institution. The institution must provide documentation proving your enrollment and program of study. A student visa allows you to stay in Korea for the duration of your studies.

Tourist Visa

A tourist visa allows you to visit Korea for up to 90 days without any specific purpose such as work or study. This type of visa cannot be extended and requires proof of return travel.

Application Process

The application process for each type of visa involves submitting documentation and completing interviews at the Korean embassy or consulate in your home country. The process can take several weeks or even months, so it is important to plan accordingly.

Required Documentation

The required documentation varies depending on the type of visa. Generally, you will need a passport with at least six months validity, a completed application form, and proof of financial support. For work and student visas, additional documentation such as employment or enrollment letters may be required.

Language Requirements

Korean language proficiency is not required for a tourist visa. However, for work and student visas, the institution or company may require a certain level of Korean language proficiency. It is important to research these requirements before applying.

Living Costs

The cost of living in Korea varies depending on the location and lifestyle. Generally, larger cities such as Seoul are more expensive than smaller cities. Rent, food, transportation, and healthcare are the main expenses to consider.


Korea has a universal healthcare system that covers both citizens and foreigners. The cost of healthcare is relatively low compared to other countries. Foreigners on a work visa are required to enroll in the national health insurance program.

Cultural Adjustment

Living in Korea can be a challenging cultural adjustment for some foreigners. It is important to research and learn about Korean culture and customs before arriving. Language barriers and homesickness can also be difficult, so it is important to have a support system.


Living in Korea can be a rewarding experience for those who meet the requirements for legal residency. The process involves researching visa types, gathering documentation, and completing the application process. It is important to consider living costs, healthcare, language requirements, and cultural adjustment before making the move.

Can I live in South Korea as a foreigner?

Moving to South Korea can be a straightforward process, provided that you take the necessary steps before your arrival. While the country used to have a reputation for being unwelcoming to foreign migrants, this attitude has shifted in recent years as Korea has opened its doors to more international businesses.

How can I permanently live in South Korea?

To obtain a Permanent Resident Visa in South Korea, you can either invest 600 million KRW (approximately 500,000 USD) or more in a business in Korea and hire at least five locals, marry a Korean citizen or an F-5 visa holder, or obtain a degree in South Korea. These are the requirements you must meet to be eligible for the visa.

How long can a US citizen live in Korea?

A person who holds a valid U.S passport can travel to the Republic of Korea with a K-ETA and stay for up to 90 days for tourism or visiting purposes.

Can I move to Korea with no job?

Individuals who wish to relocate to Korea without having a job can obtain a D-10 Job Seeker Visa.

Does marrying a Korean give citizenship?

For noncitizens, marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident provides a direct route to U.S. immigration. It is important to note that despite common misconceptions, the foreign national does not automatically gain the right to immigrate or become a U.S. citizen.

How much money is required to live in Korea?

For a family of four living in South Korea, the average monthly living expenses (not including rent) are around 2,300,000 KRW (which is equivalent to 2,000 USD). However, a single expat can expect to spend around 652,000 KRW (or 560 USD) per month (excluding rent).

Job Market

The job market in Korea can be competitive, especially for foreigners. Fluency in Korean is often a requirement for many positions, but there are also opportunities for those with English teaching experience or specialized skills such as IT or engineering. Networking and building connections is important in the Korean business culture.


Finding housing in Korea can be a challenge, especially in larger cities. Apartments are the most common type of housing, but they can be expensive and have strict rules regarding noise and visitors. It is important to research neighborhoods and consider using a real estate agent to help with the search.


Korea has an extensive public transportation system that includes buses, subways, and trains. It is affordable and efficient, making it easy to travel within the country. Taxis are also readily available, but can be expensive during peak hours.


Korean cuisine is diverse and flavorful, with a focus on rice, vegetables, and meats such as beef, pork, and chicken. It is also known for its spicy and fermented flavors. Traditional dishes include bibimbap, bulgogi, and kimchi. Street food is also popular in Korea and can be found throughout the cities.

Social Life

Korean culture places a strong emphasis on socializing and building relationships. There are many opportunities to meet people through work, school, language exchange programs, and social clubs. Nightlife options include bars, clubs, karaoke rooms, and restaurants that stay open late.

Travel Opportunities

Korea is a great base for travel throughout Asia. The country has a well-developed transportation system that makes it easy to travel domestically. Popular destinations include Jeju Island, Busan, and the DMZ. International destinations such as Japan, China, and Southeast Asia are also easily accessible from Korea.

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