SAFETY AND SECURITY
South Korea has reported sustained community spreading of a novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). On February 23, 2020, the South Korean government raised its virus alert to the highest level (red). Local authorities have put control measures in place and have designated Daegu and Cheongdo as “special care zones” following a growing number of cases emerging in these two cities. You may be asked to self-isolate based on your health condition, previous location or contact with others.
Residents of Daegu have been advised by local authorities to stay indoors as much as possible and to avoid crowds.
- Read the Public Health Agency of Canada’s latest update on COVID-19.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
- Monitor the news for the latest developments on the evolving situation.
- Expect increased health screening measures at points of entry, including airports.
- If you’re leaving South Korea, check your destination’s entry and exit requirements and restrictions specific to the current situation with the nearest foreign diplomatic mission or consulate.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in South Korea – Public Health Agency of Canada
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update – Public Health Agency of Canada
TENSIONS ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula could escalate with little notice and the security situation could deteriorate suddenly. Tensions may increase before, during and after North Korean nuclear and missile tests, military exercises or as the result of incidents or military activities at or near the inter-Korean border.
Monitor developments, remain vigilant and follow the instructions of local authorities. We strongly recommend that Canadians register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to receive the latest updates.
Registration of Canadians Abroad
Crime against foreigners is generally low. Petty crime occurs in major metropolitan areas, tourist sites and public markets. Remain aware of your surroundings in crowded entertainment, nightlife and shopping districts.
Avoid walking alone, especially after dark. Ensure that your personal belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times.
You can report crimes to the Korean National Police Agency by dialling 112. This is a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week service. For non-Korean speakers, the police will link an interpreter into the call.
Women travelling alone may be subject to certain forms of harassment.
Safe travel guide for women
Political, labour and student demonstrations and marches may occur. Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)
The rate of fatal road accidents is very high. Check carefully before crossing the road. Vehicles may not stop at pedestrian crossings. Use underground or above-ground pedestrian crossings, where available.
Speeding, running red lights, lane changes without signalling and other risky driving behaviours are common, particularly by buses, taxis and motorcyclists. Motorcycles are sometimes driven on sidewalks.
Automobile drivers are presumed to be at fault in accidents involving motorcycles or pedestrians. Criminal charges and heavy penalties are common when accidents result in injury. Even if negligence is not proven, you may be subject to criminal charges.
The use of public transport after dark may be safer than using taxis when travelling alone. When subway and bus services end for the night, use officially marked taxis only. Taxis may not be equipped with seatbelts. Drivers may speak some English, but have your destination written in Korean.
High-speed train services (KTX and SRT) link Seoul and major southern cities such as Busan, Gwangju and Mokpo.
- Book high-speed train tickets – Korail
- Book high-speed train tickets – SRT
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
General information about foreign domestic airlines
CIVIL EMERGENCY EXERCISES
Civil emergency exercises are held 8 times a year for fires, earthquakes, other disasters and civil defence drills. Nationwide exercises take place in March, May, August and September. Regional exercises occur each year in April, June, October and November. Depending on the exercise, sirens may sound, transport may stop and authorities may ask some people to take shelter in metro stations or basements. While visitor participation is not necessary, familiarize yourself with procedures and check local announcements for further exercises.
EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE MOBILE APPLICATION
The Ministry of the Interior and Safety offers a free emergency assistance mobile application called Emergency Ready (available on Google Play and iTunes). The app allows users to contact emergency services, locate the closest medical centre or shelter and view first aid videos.
- Emergency Ready App – Google Play
- Emergency Ready – iTunes