If you’re planning to visit Seoul in the future (hopefully the quarantine in Korea is no longer in effect then), you can book your tours and travel essentials on WAUG. Check out your options here and sign up today to get ₩3,000 ($3) off your first booking!
- Undergoing quarantine in Korea is currently mandatory for all inbound travelers, including Korean nationals.
- Foreigners on a short-term visit will have to serve their quarantine in a government-designated facility, while those who live in South Korea may isolate in their residence.
- If you have plans to fly into Korea soon and would like to immerse in the culture, download WAUG here. It’s Korea’s No. 1 activity booking platform, and you can use it to book the country’s best restaurants and attractions at a discount!
- Not traveling this year? See what WAUG offers in your country here!
Arrival Process & Quarantine in Korea
If you’re set to travel to Korea in the very near future, you may be feeling mixed emotions right now. On the one hand, you could be looking forward to experiencing the culture, lifestyle, and food (like this grilled pork or this must-try street food!), but on the other hand, you may also be worried about the new arrival procedure and mandatory quarantine. To help you ease your anxiety, I put together a list of some of the things that are MOST LIKELY to occur on your arrival. I got all the information from the YouTube videos of Daum Kim, Sueann Kim, and Jelly!, who are three of the most helpful resources available right now. (Their videos are embedded below.)
1. Undergo temperature check before the flight
Before boarding the aircraft that will take you directly to South Korea, you will have to undergo a temperature check. If you’re good to go, they will put a sticker on your passport to indicate that you’re cleared to travel.
2. Fill out travel declaration and health forms
While this is quite standard, you may have to do more paperwork to show your travel history and inform of symptoms, if any.
3. Have another body temperature check after landing
Like #2, the body temperature or heat check is pretty standard in airports. You will just have to go through this as normal. (At this point, you will be required to wear a mask at all times. I suggest buying one or two in your home country where you live.)
4. Submit paperwork and download the COVID-19 health monitoring app
You will then have to present your paperwork, like this Consent to Quarantine form. You will also be asked to download the self-diagnosis app too to help the Korean government monitor your health during your isolation period.
5. Have your declared address or place of quarantine verified, if applicable
If you are a Korean national or a foreigner who resides in South Korea, you will be allowed to quarantine in your place provided that the staff at the airport finds your residence suitable. They will give your contact person a call and ask about the location.
6. Get clearance from Immigration
After doing 3, 4, and 5 (which may take a couple of hours, by the way), you can then proceed to Immigration. Once cleared, you’ll be able to collect your bags.
7A. If you show symptons, get tested immediately and stay in a temporary facility
If you show symptoms, you will be asked to take the COVID-19 test right away. The result may take up to 24 hours to be released, so you need to come to a temporary living facility. If your test comes back negative, you can then proceed to your quarantine area the next day. Otherwise, you will be taken to the hospital for COVID-19 treatment.
7B. Not showing symptoms? You will still be tested for COVID-19
All incoming travelers to Korea will be tested for COVID-19 regardless of symptoms. It may not happen on the same day of your arrival, but you will have to go through it within a couple of days.
(If you’ll enter Korea via Incheon International Airport and your flight arrives between 9am and 7pm, you will have to take the test at the walk-through testing booth. If your flight arrives in Incheon airport anytime between 7pm-9am (next day), you will have your test in the temporary living facility.
7C: For foreigners on a long-term visit: Get tested or proceed to self-isolation in your home
If you are a returning Korean or a long-term foreign visitor (student, employee, spouse of Korean, etc.) with no symptoms upon arrival, you will be allowed leave the airport and proceed to your home for quaratine. However, you must visit your local screening center for COVID-19 testing within the next 3 days.
8. Proceed to place of quarantine
If you will enter a government-designated facility, you will be provided transportation. If you’ll isolate at home, you must use a personal vehicle or a designated mode of transit.
9. Pay the cost of your quarantine in Korea
Travelers who are required stay in a government-designated facility will have to pay the total cost of ₩2,100,000 (around $1,750) upfront. (It used to be ₩1,400,000 only.) This will cover the expense of your entire isolation period. The fee is non-refundable, and the only time you will be allowed to leave your room is when your isolation period is up.
Moreover, you won’t be able to choose the facility, but you can expect to stay in pleasant 3-star hotel room or a converted corporate facility.
10. Receive your supplies and give regular health updates via the app
Once you’re in quarantine, you’ll get food, water, and health supplies from the government. (Daum Kim, who quarantined at home, showed in her video that she also received a DIY chocolate kit!)
Remember that you will have to provide updates via the Self-Diagnosis App. From time to time, you may also get a call from the government to see how you’re doing. Always be ready to answer.
Ways to Get Through Quarantine in Korea
Being alone in a room will be challenging, but you can do it! Here are some ways to help you get through the 14-day isolation period:
1. Download and make use of the essential apps in Korea
We’ve listed a couple here: For Expats: 12 Essential Apps in South Korea
2. Watch Korean drama on Netflix
3. Research about weekend banking
If you’ll study or work in Korea, here’s a tip: this bank in Korea offers weekend banking for foreigners. (They offer great remittance products and services too.)
4. Map out the restaurants in Seoul
These guides may help:
- [Gangnam & Itaewon] 10 Restaurants in Gangnam & Itaewon That You Can Book at a Discount
- [Hongdae] 5 Best Restaurants in Hongdae That Command Locals’ Attention
- [Various Locations] Indian Restaurants in Seoul To Visit When You’re Craving
5. Connect with friends and family
This is pretty obvious, but just so you won’t forget!
Watch: Quarantine in Korea
Here are the videos that explain how quarantine in Korea is like in the time of COVID-19:
1. Daum Kim: What 14-day Quarantine in Korea looks like | Flying from Narita to Seoul
2. Sueann Kim: Flying into South Korea from London during COVID19 / Government quarantine facility / 귀국 vlog
3. Jelly!: Korean quarantine??! | Vlog | 27+ hours?!! | Storytime
What happens if you fail to comply with the quarantine requirement?
You MAY face a criminal penalty of imprisonment or pay a fine of up to ₩10,000,000 (around $8,340).
The photos used in this article are for illustration purposes only and do not reflect current conditions in the airport or the quarantine facility.
The policy is already being implemented in 26 countries.