In this blogpost I’ll be giving you an inside how the covid situation is handled in Korea. All in all, I’d say this country is doing an amazing job during these hard times – the government sets strict rules, but they work and most people follow these rules so everyone can live their life the best way possible right now. Of course I have to mention here that South Korea has no other country than North Korea at its border, so it functions as an “island” – which means everyone who arrives in Korea now gets tested right away at the airport and gets isolated for 2 weeks. That makes it easier to control the spreading in the first place. But let’s continue!
Current Cases (October 2020)
Currently South Korea has got around 60-100 new cases a day. There are 25.543 cases in total since the beginning of the pandemic, 23.647 are healed. That makes it to 1.896 active cases in the whole country. 453 people passed away.
There’s only a mask mandatory in public transportations, however people wear their masks outside as well nontheless. It’s actually weird to see someone without a mask. Free hand sanitizer is available everywhere, too.
Social Distance Level
The government sets different levels, regarding the amount of new cases.
You need to use an app with a QR code with your data or write your personal information down before entering a place. Temperature is measured a lot of the times, too.
Basically everything is open – schools, clubs, cafes, restaurants, noraebang (karaoke), pc bangs and bars. Busking is allowed as well.
Even ´clubs are open under social distance measurements – that means only a limited amount of people are allowed inside (500), sometimes there is no real dance floor – it’s mostly filled with tables, where people can stand or sit at. Everyone has to wear a mask.
Music Festivals, big concerts and other (public) events are cancelled in general though.
Same as level 1, but only 100 people are allowed inside one location e.g. bar, club, restaurant etc.
With raising numbers of cases, clubs, pc bangs and noraebangs are closed. Busking in the streets is prohibited. Bars, restaurants and cafes are only open under even stricter social distance measurements. Museums and galleries are individually open or closed – you need to buy a ticket online in advance though.
Only take away at franchises – restaurants are open until 9pm or take away. Cafes, gyms, museums and galleries are closed. Even a lot of parks and other public places are closed for visitors. Schools are closed and are shifted to online classes. A lot of offices switch to home office.
This level would be a lockdown, which luckily never happened. Korea has decreased the number of cases without the necessity of one.
Sidenote: Since living here, I experienced each level from 1 until 2.5. Currently (8th of November 2020) Korea is under Level 1, which means a “normal” life is basically possible!
- Are tourists currently coming to Korea?
No. Korea closed its borders for common tourists around April 2020 and they’re probably going to stay closed for now – without knowing when they’ll open them up again. Only long-term visa holders are currently allowed in.
2. I’m living in Korea right now and want to travel abroad (e.g. visit my family) and come back after. Is it possible?
Yes, but there is a twist to it. If you want to leave the country as a foreigner living here right now and want to come back after, you need to get a permission from the government first (also pay for that) and give valuable reasons. Furthermore you need to take several corona tests and get into a 2-weeks quarantine in a governments facility when coming back to Korea – paid by yourself. In my opinion traveling internationally now isn’t a thing anyway, so it’s not an option I’d consider in the first place.
3. I want to come to Korea! Is it possible?
As said before, as a common tourist it’s not possible right now. If you’re coming as an exchange student, work in the entertainment field e.g. as a model, have a korean spouse or get hired by a company, it’s difficult but not impossible! At arrival you immediately have to get into a 2-weeks quarantine, take several corona tests and so on. If you have to pay for the (quite pricey) government’s accommodation or can choose one yourself is not up to my knowledge at this point. Contact the korean embassy for more information about it!
Furthermore I have no information about Korea currently giving out H1 (Working Holiday) Visa in the first place – once again, please contact the korean embassy in your country for official statements 🙂
I also uploaded a YouTube video right when I arrived in Korea (before the quarantine rule was set). Check it out if you’re interested!
Do you have any other questions regarding the Covid situation in Korea? Let me know in the comments!