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What should I be careful of in Korea?


Korea is a beautiful country with a rich culture and history. However, like any other country, there are certain things that you need to be careful of while traveling in Korea. In this article, we will discuss the top things that you should be aware of to stay safe and enjoy your trip to the fullest.

Language Barrier

Korean is the official language of South Korea, and many Koreans do not speak English fluently. Therefore, it is crucial to learn some basic Korean phrases and carry a translation app or a phrasebook. This will help you communicate effectively with locals and avoid any misunderstandings.

Traffic Rules

The traffic rules in Korea are different from those in other countries. For instance, cars drive on the right-hand side of the road, and pedestrians must use crosswalks to cross the street. It is also essential to be cautious while crossing roads as drivers may not always stop at red lights.

Cultural Norms

Korea has a unique set of cultural norms that visitors must respect. For example, it is customary to take off your shoes before entering someone’s house or a temple. Additionally, bowing is a common way of showing respect, and visitors should learn how to bow properly.

Food Safety

Korean cuisine is famous worldwide for its delicious and spicy flavors. However, some dishes may contain ingredients that you are unfamiliar with or have an allergic reaction to. It is advisable to research restaurants before dining out, read reviews, and ask for recommendations from locals.

Natural Disasters

South Korea is prone to natural disasters like typhoons, earthquakes, and floods. It is crucial to check weather reports regularly and follow the instructions given by local authorities in case of any emergencies.

Public Transport

Public transport in Korea is efficient and affordable, but it can be challenging to navigate for first-time visitors. It is advisable to research the routes beforehand, purchase a T-Money card, and ask for help from locals or station staff if needed.


Like any other tourist destination, there may be scams targeting unsuspecting visitors in Korea. It is essential to be wary of people offering unsolicited help, street vendors selling fake souvenirs, or individuals claiming to be police officers asking for identification or money.

Drinking Culture

Koreans have a strong drinking culture, and alcohol is readily available at restaurants, bars, and convenience stores. It is crucial to drink responsibly and avoid getting drunk in public as it may lead to unpleasant incidents.

Internet Access

South Korea has one of the fastest internet speeds globally, and free Wi-Fi is available in most public places. However, it is advisable to use a virtual private network (VPN) while accessing sensitive information like online banking or email accounts.

Personal Safety

South Korea is generally a safe country with low crime rates. However, it is advisable to take basic precautions like not walking alone at night in unfamiliar areas, avoiding deserted alleys, and keeping your belongings close to you.

Emergency Services

In case of any emergencies like accidents or illnesses, it is essential to know the emergency numbers in Korea. The emergency numbers are 119 for medical emergencies and 112 for police and fire services. It is also advisable to carry your travel insurance documents with you at all times.


Korea is a fascinating country with a lot to offer visitors. By being aware of these potential hazards and taking the necessary precautions, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip. Remember to respect local customs, stay alert, and have fun exploring Korea’s rich culture and history.

What do you need to know before going to Korea?

To enter Korea, it is necessary to have a valid U.S. passport and either a visa or a Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA). For most U.S. passport holders traveling for tourism or business reasons for less than 90 days, a K-ETA can be acquired. To obtain the K-ETA, one can apply on the K-ETA website for a fee of 10,000KRW. The deadline for entry is January 26, 2023.

What is acceptable in Korea?

Showing respect through basic etiquette can take various forms. It is important to show respect to those who are older than you, which includes considering their opinions, waiting for their input, and showing deference by lowering your gaze. When offering or receiving objects, gifts, or food, it is customary to use both hands as a sign of respect.

Are tattoos allowed in South Korea?

In South Korea, only medical professionals with licenses are allowed to open tattoo shops, while those without medical degrees cannot do so legally. However, having a tattoo itself is not against the law, except for those serving in the military. Individuals can get tattoos after completing their military service.

Can you wear leggings in Korea?

It is not recommended to wear leggings in public in Korea as it is considered inappropriate. If worn to work or school, others may stare at you and think your outfit is not suitable.

Is Seoul English friendly?

Although Seoul is the contemporary capital of South Korea, English is not widely spoken by many of the city’s residents. However, in popular tourist areas like Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, and Hongdae, you may have more success finding locals who are fluent in English.

Is South Korea tourist friendly?

Is South Korea safe to visit? Absolutely! Visitors often comment on the cleanliness of the streets, welcoming atmosphere, and the low incidence of crime, particularly against foreigners. The country has a reputation for safety and security.

Currency Exchange

When traveling to Korea, it is essential to exchange your currency for Korean won. However, it is advisable to exchange your money at authorized money changers or banks to avoid being scammed with counterfeit bills. It is also recommended to carry some cash as some small shops and street vendors may not accept credit cards.

Weather Conditions

Korea experiences four distinct seasons, each with its unique weather conditions. Summers can be hot and humid, while winters can be bitterly cold. It is essential to pack accordingly and check the weather forecast before your trip. If you are traveling during the monsoon season (June to September), be prepared for heavy rains and possible flooding.

Dress Code

Korea has a conservative dress code, especially when visiting religious sites or attending formal events. It is advisable to dress modestly and avoid wearing revealing clothing. In some cases, you may be required to cover your head or remove your shoes before entering certain places.

Smoking Restrictions

Smoking is prohibited in most public places in Korea, including restaurants, bars, and public transportation. If you are a smoker, it is essential to find designated smoking areas or smoke outside to avoid breaking the law and facing fines.

Electricity and Adapters

Korea uses a 220V/60Hz electricity system, which may differ from other countries. It is advisable to bring a universal adapter if you plan on using electronic devices during your trip. Some hotels may provide adapters upon request, but it is best to bring your own just in case.

Tipping Culture

Tipping is not a common practice in Korea as most service charges are already included in the bill. However, if you receive exceptional service at a restaurant or hotel, leaving a small tip as a gesture of appreciation is acceptable. It is also customary to offer a small gift to people who have helped you during your trip, such as tour guides or hotel staff.

Medical Facilities

Korea has a well-developed healthcare system with modern facilities and highly qualified medical professionals. However, medical expenses can be costly for foreigners without travel insurance. It is advisable to purchase travel insurance that covers medical expenses before your trip to avoid any unexpected costs in case of illness or injury.

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