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From urban cities to idyllic national parks mixed with centuries of history – South Korea has so much to discover

South Korea shares the Korean Peninsular with North Korea. It’s an Asia Pacific destination that’s situated between the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan. Despite the heavy militarised border with North Korea, it’s a peaceful country that tempts the traveller with it’s rolling green hills, Buddhist temples and national parks.

Culture and history

South Korea was founded in 1948 after WW2, when the Japanese surrendered control of Korea. It was divided into two countries - the north being administered by the Soviet Union and the south by the US. In 1950, war broke out between the two countries for governmental power, neither winning. Korea remained divided and South Korea become a country led by democratic and autocratic ruling.

South Korea has flourished from a poor country, to one of the wealthiest countries in Asia. It’s seen substantial developments to education and economics and enjoys a modern culture, but with a respect for ancient traditions. Confucian principles are ingrained in every day life, a teaching that supports harmony and values authority and elders.

The cuisine of South Korea is largely rice, meat and vegetable based, with kimchi being served with every meal. This is a dish of fermented vegetables, that promotes a healthy gut. There are many fantastic restaurants in the major cities, that serve fresh, inexpensive food. Chopsticks are the expected dining implement, so you should get your chopstick practice in!

Things to do

With such breathtaking scenery, a trip to South Korea is not complete without a visit to one of its many National Parks, such as the urban oasis of the Bukhansan National Park and the mountainous Yongdusan Park, a green space in the city of Busan.

South Korea is peppered with beautifully architected temples, set amidst rolling green hills. Most Korean temples have names ending in -sa, which means "temple" in Sino-Korean. Visit the three ‘jewel temples’ – Tongdosa Temple, Haeinsa Temple and Songgwangsa Temple and immerse yourself in Buddhist culture.

The country’s major cities are metropolitan and technologically minded. Seoul, South Korea’s capital, is one of the most high-tech cities in the world, on a par with LA and Singapore, yet it still maintains a traditional feel. Here you can discover the country’s history with a cultural city tour, wander around the markets or experience its cosmopolitan nightlife.

Flight time

The flight time from London to Seoul is just under 11 hours.

Currency

South Korean won -

The currency of South Korea is the South Korean won.

Passports and visas

Visitors to South Korea must hold a passport valid for at least 3 months from their date of entry.

You may enter South Korea as a tourist for up to 90-days without a visa.

For more information, visit the GOV.UK website.

Phrases

Hello – Yeoboseyo

Good morning – Joh-eun achim

Good afternoon – Annyeonghaseyo

Please – Budi

Thank you – Gomabseubnida

Goodbye – Annyeong

Yes – Ye

No – Ani

Timezone

South Korea is 9 hours ahead of GMT.

Electricity

The standard voltage in South Korea is 220 volts. The frequency is 60Hz. You can use UK appliances in South Korea, if your appliances are between 220 volts and 240 volts. South Korea uses the F type plug, which is a two-pin with earth clips either side. You will need an adapter if you want to use UK appliances.

Language

Korean -

Korean is the official language of Korea. It has a number of dialects within the language, the main one being Hanguk dialect.

Tipping

You are not expected to tip in South Korea. The country maintains a no tipping policy.

Climate

Southnbsp;Korea has 4 seasons, with summers being hot and humid and winters being long and cold. It has a monsoon season in late June and July. The best times to visit are in the Spring, which is April to early June and in Autumn, which is September to November.

Health

We recommend you visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to South Korea, to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures.

For more information, visit the GOV.UK website.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

The population of South Korea is 52 million.

The total land area is 100,210 km².

Smoking

There has been a smoking ban in South Korea since 2015, preventing people from smoking in cafes, bars and restaurants. Anyone caught ignoring the ban could face a hefty fine of 100,000 won.



Climate