About Republic of Korea


The Korean peninsula is located in North-East Asia. It is surrounded by the ocean on three sides, making it a unique geographical location. With Seoul as its capital city, the landsite is roughly 1,030 km (612 miles) long and 175 km (105 miles) wide at its narrowest point. Korea's total land area is 100,033 square km, neighboring Japan to the east, China to the west, and sharing a northern border with Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).

According to the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, as of July 2015, the total population of Korea is 51,448,183, ranking 26th globally by country. Out of the total population, roughly 20% live in Seoul, the capital city of Korea. Other large and economically advanced cities such as Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju and Ulsan have higher population densities than other cities in Korea.


Weather

The climate of Seoul is considered both humid subtropical and humid continental (the city lies on the border of these). Summers are hot and humid and the East Asian monsoon has a strong impact on Seoul's weather from June to July. The average temperature for Seoul in November is 45˚F (7˚C) with average humidity of 62%. Please note that Seoul becomes very windy at times, which considerably lowers the temperature.

Official Language

Korean (Hangeul) is the official language of Korea. Please visit this website to learn more about the common phrases used in Korea.

Religion

Korea is a country where all the world's major religions, Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism and Islam, peacefully coexist with shamanism. Given the great diversity of religious expression, the role of religion in South Korea's social development has been complex; and some traditions are best understood as important cultural properties rather than as rites of worship.

Getting Around

TRANSPORTATION

Seoul features one of the world’s most advanced transportation infrastructures, which is constantly under expansion.

By Subway

Seoul has a comprehensive subway network that interconnects every district of the city and the surrounding areas. With more than 8 million passengers per day, Seoul has one of the busiest subway systems in the world. The Seoul Metropolitan Subway has 12 lines which serve Seoul, Incheon, Gyeonggi province, western Gangwon province, and northern Chungnam province.

Seoul Metropolitan Subway Map (Courtesy of SeoulMetro) : dmzap1.seoulmetro.co.kr

By Train
One of the most convenient ways to travel between cities in Korea is by train. Bus schedules can vary depending on traffic, but that is hardly the case for the railroad, allowing passengers to make more exact travel plans and move to destinations on time.

Korean trains are classified based on their speed and the amenities offered onboard. There are generally seven classifications: KTX express trains, including KTX-Sancheon, and the non-express Saemaeul, ITX-Saemaeul, ITX-Cheongchun, Mugunghwa, Nuriro and tourism trains.

KORAIL Customer Service: +82-1599-7777 (Korean, English)
KORAIL Website: info.korail.com (Korean, English)

By Bus
In Korea, city buses are one of the most convenient and readily available forms of transportation. Throughout the country, city buses provide an easy way to reach any destination, with special colors or numbers to designate each route.

Buses in Seoul are classified by color to designate the type of bus: blue buses travel on major roads and run for relatively long distances through Seoul; green buses travel shorter distances and carry travelers between transfer points such as subway stations and longer bus routes; red buses are express buses that travel from Seoul to suburban areas; yellow buses operate on a closed circuit within a district of Seoul. Promoting this efficient management system, many other regions in Korea have also introduced similar designated bus systems to ensure the punctuality of public transportation.

By Taxi
In Korea, there are plentiful of taxis and they are clean, safe, and above all, inexpensive. They can be found at taxi stands in most busy city areas or hailed on the streets. There are also call taxis that can be requested by phone. However, call taxis are slightly more expensive than the taxis you flag down on the street. An increasing number of taxi drivers speak English, which may be helpful for first-time international visitors.

While virtually all taxis operating in the Seoul area accept credit cards or transportation cards, it is possible that some taxis in the outlying or isolated regions may request cash only. Keep this in mind and make sure to have some cash (in KRW) with you if you plan to use a cab in remote areas. The taxi fare is calculated by distance and time. Basic fares can slightly vary from region to region.

  • Reservations : Online reservations available via website or make inquiry to the Reservation Center at +82-2-1644-2255 (English, Japanese) or email to reserve@intltaxi.co.kr
  • Operating hours : 24/7 (Reservation center: Mon-Fri 09:00-18:00 / Sat 09:00-13:00). For foreign visitors who have not made the reservation before arrival, visit the service window at Incheon and Gimpo airports to get more information on international taxi and/or to reservations.
  • Fares : The taxis operate on a reservation basis, and taxi fees can be calculated according to destination choice, which, in case of Seoul, consists of 3 major areas. (by meters – when departing from Gimpo International Airport / by category of three major areas – when departing from Incheon International Airport)
  • Methods of payment : Cash (Korean won), international credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, JCB) or T-Money.
  • Website : www.intltaxi.co.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

Most call centers only offer services in Korean only, so call the Korea Travel Hotline (+82-2-1330) or Dasan Call Center (+82-2-120) for assistance in English.

Currency

The basic unit of currency is the won (₩). Notes are available in denominations of ₩1,000, ₩5,000, ₩10,000 and ₩50,000. Coins are denominated as follows: ₩10, ₩50, ₩100 and ₩500.

Value-added Tax

A value-added tax of 10% is included in the price of most goods, and a few services. Please note that foreign tourists, non-residents or visitors to Korea are eligible to receive a refund for the value added tax (VAT) on the purchased items they will take out of the country. Goods purchased at retail stores designated and registered by the monitoring government ministry must total 30,000 won or more (including tax) and be purchased within 3 months of your departure from Korea.

  • Must be a foreign national who has been residing in/visiting Korea for less than 6 months; or
  • Be an overseas Korean (holder of Korean passport and permanent resident) residing in/visiting Korea for less than 3 months; or
  • Be a Korean student studying abroad for two years or more.

More information on tax refund is available here.

Banking

Banks operate from Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm. ATMs are found in banks and subway stations. However, most ATMs in the subway stations do not display English language on the screen. Foreign Currency and Traveller’s Cheques can be exchanged at banks.

Credit Card

Foreign credit cards can be used in Korea, and in fact, are sometimes preferred by many Korean merchants. Nevertheless, Korean credit cards are often required for on-line payments, etc. Also, Payments of your foreign credit card must be made in your own country.

Electricity

The standard voltage in Korea is 220 volts (and 60 Hertz, or cycles), and the outlet has two round holes, which is the same type used in France, Germany, Greece, Turkey, and many other countries. If you would like to buy one in Korea, you can do so at any of the retail stores, major duty-free shops, Yongsan Electronics Market, convenience stores or even stationery stores.

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Time Zone

Korea local time is GMT/UCT + 9 hours

Telecommunications

The international telephone access code for Korea is +82 and area code for Seoul is 02. Travelers can purchase SIM cards from the major retail stores, convenience stores or from the website of the respective service providers. More often than not, this service is cheaper than roaming phones, therefore preferred communication service by a large number of business travelers.

Internet

Internet service is often provided in public places such as airports, train stations, and bus terminals in Korea. PC rooms and internet cafes are also great places to get internet service and easy to find throughout the country. In addition, many of popular tourist sites are equipped with free Wi-Fi connections as well help international visitors to stay connected with friends and families back at home.

Tipping

Don't tip; it's often considered degrading (the service charge is generally included in the bill), but, do give a slight bow and say thank you. Hotel porters, however, customarily receive a bit of change, as do taxi drivers- but only if they assist with the luggage.

Getting there

The fastest way to get downtown is by the Express Train on the AREX Line. The nonstop ride from Incheon International Airport Station to Seoul Station is just 43 minutes. Seoul Station is a huge transportation hub providing convenient access to different areas of Seoul and beyond.

The airport limousine buses are a cost-effective way to go from Incheon International Airport to almost all parts of Seoul including Gangnam, Myeong-dong and Yeouido. Equipped with comfortable reclining seats and spacious leg room, these buses are especially popular among passengers getting off of a long flight. It takes a bit more than an hour from the airport to downtown Seoul, depending on traffic.

Taxis are expensive in comparison to taking a train or airport limousine bus to the heart of Seoul. However, this is the most convenient mode of transportation and do note that passengers must pay the Incheon Bridge tollgate fee. Still, as most taxis are now equipped with a portable GPS navigation device, passengers can reach their destination easily and safely.

For more transportation information, please visit Incheon International Airport's official website.

Recreation & Leisure

Whether it's shopping or sightseeing, there's no shortage of fun activities to experience in Korea. For more information, please visit the Korea Tourism Organization website here

Useful contact numbers

Emergency Numbers
Police Department Tel: 112
Fire Department Tel: 119
Medical Emergencies Tel: 1339

1330 Korea Travel Hotline
The 1330 Korea Travel Hotline, operated by the Korea Tourism Organization, is a one-stop helpline available as a public service for both local and international travelers. Click here to learn more.

Tourist Police Officers (24/7): 1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)