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Is the tap water in Seoul safe to drink?

Is the tap water in Seoul safe to drink?


Tap water safety is a significant concern for people traveling to foreign countries, and Korea is no exception. Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, has a population of over ten million people, and its tap water supply system is one of the most advanced in the world. However, is it safe to drink water directly from the tap? This article will explore whether or not it is safe to drink tap water in Seoul.

Seoul’s Water Supply System

Seoul’s tap water comes from the Han River, which runs through the city. The treatment process involves various stages such as coagulation, sedimentation, filtration, and disinfection. It also undergoes strict quality control tests at every stage. The city government has invested heavily in its water infrastructure and technology to provide clean and safe drinking water.

Water Quality Standards

The Korean government follows strict water quality standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The government monitors the water quality daily and publishes the results on its website. The latest data shows that Seoul’s tap water meets all the national health standards.

The Taste of Tap Water

Although Seoul’s tap water is safe to drink, some people may find it unpleasant due to its taste or odor. This is because of the chlorine used to disinfect tap water. However, this taste can be removed by using a filter or by leaving the water in a jug for several hours.

Bottled Water vs. Tap Water

Many people prefer to drink bottled water instead of tap water when traveling abroad. However, bottled water can be expensive and has an environmental impact due to plastic waste. Moreover, not all bottled water is safer than tap water. In South Korea, some bottled water is just tap water in a bottle.

Health Risks of Drinking Tap Water

Drinking contaminated water can cause various health problems such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. However, Seoul’s tap water is considered safe to drink, and there have been no reported cases of water-borne diseases in recent years. The city’s water supply system is well-maintained, and the government is continuously monitoring the water quality to ensure public health.

Water Filters

Water filters are an option for those who are concerned about the taste or odor of tap water. There are various types of filters available in the market, such as activated carbon filters, reverse osmosis filters, and ultraviolet (UV) filters. However, it is essential to choose a filter that meets the Korean standard for drinking water.

Boiling Tap Water

Boiling tap water is an effective way to remove bacteria and viruses that may be present in the water. However, it does not remove chemical contaminants such as chlorine or heavy metals. Moreover, boiling tap water can be time-consuming and not practical for everyday use.

Alternative Sources of Drinking Water

If you prefer not to drink tap water, there are alternative sources of drinking water available in Seoul. Many convenience stores sell bottled water, and some restaurants offer free filtered water. However, these options can be more expensive than drinking tap water.


In conclusion, Seoul’s tap water is safe to drink and meets all national health standards. Although some people may find the taste unpleasant due to chlorine, it can easily be removed with a filter or by leaving the water in a jug for several hours. Moreover, drinking tap water is more environmentally friendly than using bottled water. However, if you prefer not to drink tap water, there are alternative sources of drinking water available in the city.


To ensure the safety of tap water in your home or hotel, it is essential to maintain your water supply system. Clean your faucet aerators regularly and replace them every few years. Also, clean your water storage tanks periodically and disinfect them with chlorine bleach. If you are concerned about the quality of your tap water, you can have it tested by a certified laboratory.

Is Korean tap water hard?

A study conducted in South Korea revealed that tap water hardness was predominantly between 54-80 ppm, with the exception of Gangwon-do and Jeollanam-do where the levels were between 22-26 ppm. These findings were reported on March 2, 2022.

Is Korea tap water safe to drink reddit?

Although there are differing opinions, the government claims that tap water is safe to drink and I have personally been drinking it without issue for years. However, some people suggest filtering it or avoiding it altogether. In my opinion, tap water is safe to consume.

Can you drink tap water in Busan?

In South Korea, it is generally safe to drink the tap water as the country has high-quality water. While there are some areas with less clean water, they are usually labeled and easy to steer clear of.

Can Americans drink Korean water?

In Korea, tap water is safe to drink and is considered potable.

Can foreigners drink water in Korea?

Although tap water in Korea is completely safe to consume, many Koreans prefer to boil or filter it before drinking. However, when in South Korea, it is not necessary to treat the water before consumption.

Where in the US is tap water not safe?

Arizona has been found to have the worst tap water in the U.S. due to a scarcity of water and elevated levels of chromium-6 and PFAS in Phoenix’s tap water, according to a recent study.

Additional Tips

When traveling to Seoul, it is essential to stay hydrated, especially during the hot and humid summer months. Carry a refillable water bottle and fill it up with tap water from your hotel or public drinking fountains. This will save you money and reduce plastic waste.

If you plan on hiking or camping in the mountains around Seoul, it is advisable to bring your own water or use a portable filter. Although the mountain streams may appear clean, they may contain harmful bacteria and parasites that can cause illness.

In case of a natural disaster or emergency, it is important to have a supply of clean drinking water stored in your home. The Korean government recommends keeping at least three days’ worth of bottled water or boiled tap water on hand.

Finally, if you are still hesitant about drinking tap water in Seoul, you can opt for boiled or filtered water. Many cafes and restaurants offer free boiled water, which is safe to drink. You can also purchase bottled water from convenience stores or use a portable filter.

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