***** Article first published on March 20, 2020 and updated on April 1st, 2021 *****

We know many people are wondering about the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in Korea, so we wanted to give you the latest update from inside the country. Life continues as normal with the addition that everyone is now also being encouraged to take sensible precautions such as properly washing and sanitising hands more regularly.

The Korean government is also taking proactive steps to understand the extent, and slow down the rate of infection, doing a very high level of testing, and putting in to place extra steps designed to minimise the spread of the virus.

Most cases of the virus are currently clustered in two areas – Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk province, very few of the total confirmed cases are represented in Seoul where our office is. In total, COVID-19 is affecting only 0.01% of the total population.v

Korea statistics

  • You can see the latest data/numbers about COVID-19 in Korea here.

Quarantine Requirements

Korea is taking extra precautions to limit any spread of the virus with robust testing processes in place and isolating any known cases. There are also additional checks at all border points.

  • ALL travelers to Korea including Korean citizens MUST have a negative COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of departure for Korea (as of January 8, 2021). You must bring a paper copy of your test results with you in Korean or English. If the results are not in Korean or English, they must be translated to Korean or English.
  • Re-entry permit exemption will be suspended for long-term stayers in Korea as of June 1st.
    • They are required to obtain a re-entry permit before before leaving Korea.
    • They are required to submit a medical certificate related to COVID-19 test results issued within 48 hours prior to the date of departure for Korea.
      • [Exception 1] Diplomats (A-1), Government Officials (A-3), Overseas Koreans (F-4)
      • [Exception 2] Registered aliens who left Korea before June 1, 2020
  • All international/domestic passengers must wear a mask. (as of May 27)
  • All valid single/multiple short-term visas issued before April 5, 2020 are suspended. (as of April 13)
    • [Exceptions] Long-term visas and short-term employment (C-4) visas
  • All visa exemption entry into South Korea for 90 countries will be suspended as of April 13.
    • Restriction on entry to nationals of Japan is effective as current.
  • All passengers entering Korea will undergo special quarantine.
    • Must have an available mobile number in Korea
    • Must have a mobile device for installing self-diagnosis apps
    • Restricted to use public transportation and domestic flights. This means you must arrive at Incheon International Airport. You cannot take a connecting within Korea. If your final destination is another city in Korea, you will be instructed to take the KTX train or similar after arrival at Incheon.
      • [Exceptions] Jeju residents, certificate of quarantine exemption holders, E9 visa holders
    • Must get a COVID-19 test within 1 day upon arrival. This is done at local public health centers.
      • [Special cases] Entrants who departed from UK, South Africa, Brazil, Africa: The COVID-19 test is administered at temporary living facility near the airport, if you test negative you can go to your quarantine location afterwards.
  • All passengers on a flight to Korea will undergo a fever check at the departure airport. Boarding will be rejected for those who have fever with temperature over 37.5°C (99.5°F).
  • All crew members holding C-3-11 visas are required to hold a valid PCR-negative certificate. (as of July 24)
    • (Updated) Test results that have been issued within 2 days from the flight or ship departure day.

Buying masks in Korea

The mask supply in Korea has stabilized and masks are now widely available in supermarkets, discount stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and other locations. There is no longer a limit on the amount you can purchase however some stores may limit the amount depending on their supply. The price varies and you can also buy them in bulk online.

Partner school extra precautions

Our partner schools have already put in additional precautions including providing hand disinfectant in all classrooms and shared spaces at school. Additionally, any students who have recently travelled through China or display illness symptoms are subject to a 14-day self-quarantine by several schools.

The Korean government is regulating the language schools’ procedures and have stated that even though there have been no coronavirus cases from any language school, that schools should take any necessary action they deem suitable to deal with minimising the spread of coronavirus including closing the school if necessary.

  • Students’ attendance rate will not be affected, schools will count the classes as “attended”, even though students don’t attend classes. 
  • Some schools changed their term start date as well as the daily or weekly study hours.
  • Some schools may do online lessons for the first or second week in order to have more time to evaluate the student body’s health condition.

If you have any questions about your school’s plans, please contact us directly.

Daily personal precautions 

According to the World Health Organisation, the best advice for avoiding infection by coronavirus is the same as for other respiratory viral infections, such as the common cold and seasonal influenza;

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. 
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick

We recommend everyone incorporate these precautions into their daily lives.

Screening and coverage 

If you contract the coronavirus while you are in Korea, the cost of care is covered by the government.

  • If you have any symptoms you can visit a Selective Care Center (선별진료소) and get tested. If your result is positive then you enter a waiting list to enter a hospital-based on your condition. All the fees will be paid by the Korea government even if you don’t pay for the Korean national health insurance if the results are positive.
  • However, if your result is negative after testing at the Selective Care Center (선별진료소) then you are liable for the test kit cost. (Approximately KRW 160,000 ~ 200,000 (US$140.00 ~ 170.00). If you did a lung CT scan, then you will be charged roughly KRW 300,000 (US$250.00) total.)


We hope with this information you now feel more informed about the current situation and reassured by the extra measures that Korea is taking to ensure the safety of its citizens and visitors.  To be kept up-to-date on the latest news about the coronavirus we recommend checking credible news sources such as the World Health Organisation, which you can find here. Meanwhile, if you have any questions or concerns about the ongoing coronavirus situation and how this affects learning Korean in Korea, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Last Updated on April 2, 2021

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