Travelling to Korea may be a far fetch dream for now as the world is on temporary travel lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Your travel plans may have taken a back seat but you might be wondering, "Can I travel to Korea now?". If you're planning to travel to Korea for your future getaways, here's everything you need to know about the COVID-19 situation in Korea.
What is the COVID-19 situation in Korea now?
Since April 2021, Korea has recorded a spike of COVID-19 cases in major cities such as Seoul and Busan. As the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has become a growing concern in Korea, the country has since implemented tighter restrictions including a temporary ban on dining at restaurants and closure of gym and indoor sports centers.
Can I travel to Korea now?
The short answer is no, for now. Korea has temporarily closed its international borders to non-essential travel since early 2020. As of May 2021, you may only enter the country with a Korean visa issued by the Korean Embassy or consular offices in your country for work, investment and other business-related purposes.
According to Korea Tourism Organisation, you need to provide the following documents when applying for a visa:
- Health Condition Report form
- Agreement to Facility Quarantine form
- A *medical diagnosis certificate issued by a medical institution within 48 hours of submitting the application
*Do note that the translation and notary requirement of the medical diagnosis certificate may differ according to your country's Korean Embassy.
What are the quarantine requirements in Korea?
As of May 2021, all travellers entering Korea are required to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine. According to Korea Tourism Organisation, you need to follow these steps when you arrive at the airport.
- Wear a face mask at all times
- Avoid physical contact and talking with other people
- If you develop COVID-19 symptoms, you are required to be tested
- If you don't showcase any COVID-19 symptoms at the time of entry, you may leave the airport and enter a mandatory self-quarantine. However, you are required to visit a screening center and get tested within the next 3 days.
- When leaving the airport, use the designated transit vehicle or a personal car (you're not allowed to make any stops before arriving at your destination)
- Once arrived, contact the local health center immediately to inform that you are under quarantine
- Download the mandatory 'Self-quarantine Safety Protection app' and follow the self-diagnosis and self-quarantine rules for 14 days.
What is the latest update on the COVID-19 vaccination in Korea?
In 2021, Korea has purchased 5 types of COVID-19 vaccines namely Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Novavax. According to Reuters, the Korean government will be receiving 192 million doses of vaccines, which is more than enough to vaccinate the country's entire population of 52 million. However, with the global vaccine shortage and the surge of COVID-19 cases from Korea's fourth wave, the country's vaccine roll-out is off to a slow start. However, Korean President Moon Jae-in is confident that the immunisation drive will run according to schedule and the country is expected to achieve herd immunity by November 2021.
It may be a while before we can travel safely to Korea again, but as long as we band together against the COVID-19 pandemic, better days will be here before you know it.