Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 24 February 2020, 13:55 NZDT
  • Still current at: 29 February 2020

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Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel to Daegu and Cheongdo due to significant outbreaks of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and associated health risks in these cities.

Exercise increased caution

Exercise increased caution in South Korea generally due to the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) and associated health risks, and heightened tensions in the region.

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COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
For travel advice and information about COVID-19, please see our news feature here.

Political tensions
Relations between South and North Korea can be tense. North Korea has conducted several nuclear tests and regular ballistic missile tests, leading to further tensions. Future tests cannot be ruled out. In the past, heightened tensions haven’t affected daily life .

There have been occasional exchanges of live fire between North and South Korean border forces. These incidents occurred in areas along the Demilitarised Zone and the north-western islands (including Yeonpyeong-do, Daecheong-do and Baengnyeong-do) and surrounding waters. In November 2010, the North Korean military shelled the north-western island of Yeonpyeong-do, resulting in loss of life. Tensions in the Demilitarised Zone have deescalated since the Panmunjom Declaration was signed in April 2017. However, further provocations or reactions cannot be ruled out.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula could escalate with little warning and New Zealanders are advised to monitor the media to stay informed of any developments and follow any instructions issued by the local authorities. Remain vigilant and take official warnings seriously.

Civil unrest
Public protests and demonstrations take place regularly, particularly in central Seoul and can cause disruptions to traffic and public transport. We advise New Zealanders in South Korea to avoid protests, demonstrations and rallies as even those intended to be peaceful  have the potential to turn violent with little warning. We recommend you monitor the media to keep up to date with local events and follow instructions issued by the local authorities.

Generally speaking Korea has a very low crime rate, and foreigners are rarely targeted.  However, petty crime is always possible and we advise New Zealanders to be alert to their surroundings at all times and to take steps to keep themselves safe and to secure their personal belongings. There have been instances of sexual harassment and sexual violence.

General travel advice
The South Korean government has developed a smartphone application with civil emergency advice, including shelter locations, different types of alarms, medical facilities and emergency services. Search for ‘emergency ready app’ on Android or Apple app stores.

South Korean authorities hold national civil emergency exercises from time to time. These may include sirens and requests for people to take shelter in metro stations or basements. While visitor participation is not necessary, we recommend that you familiarise yourself with the procedures and keep an eye on local media.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe and can include lengthy imprisonment or fines.

The blood alcohol concentration limit for drivers is 0.03%. Heavy penalties apply for exceeding the limit.

New Zealanders travelling or living in South Korea should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place.  All foreigners living in South Korea for six months or longer must subscribe to South Korea’s state health insurance scheme.

New Zealanders in South Korea are encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips

The New Zealand Embassy Seoul, South Korea

Street Address Jeong-Dong Building, Level 8 (West Tower), 15-5 Jeong-Dong, Jung-Gu, Seoul 110-784, Republic of Korea Postal Address KPO Box 2258, Seoul, 110-110, Republic of Korea Telephone +82 2 3701 7700 Fax +82 2 3701 7701 Email Web Site Hours Mon - Fri 0900 - 1230, 1330 - 1730 hrs

See our regional advice for North Asia

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New Zealand Embassy South Korea

Street Address
Jeong-Dong Building, Level 8 (West Tower), 15-5 Jeong-Dong, Jung-Gu, Seoul 110-784, Republic of Korea

Telephone: +82 2 3701 7700

Fax: +82 2 3701 7701



Hours: Mon - Fri 0900 - 1230, 1330 - 1730 hrs

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