The Republic of Korea 'Daehan Minguk' has a total land area of 99,720 square kilometers and occupies the southern part of the Korean peninsula. The overall length of the Korean peninsula from north to south is approximately 1,000 kilometers. At its narrowest point it is only 216 kilometers wide. The Republic of Korea borders the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the north, faces Japan to the east across the East Sea and to the south across the Korea strait. To the west across the Yellow Sea lies the Chinese mainland. The Republic of Korea is separated from the (communist) Democratic People's Republic by a demilitarized zone that spans across a distance of 238 km and runs roughly along the 38th parallel.
The Korean peninsula is one of the most mountainous regions in the world. Approximately 70% of its terrain is mountainous. The southern and western hills fall smoothly to the coastal plains where rice and other agricultural products are cultivated. The east coast is particularly mountainous. Only 20% of the total land area can be used for agricultural purposes. The highest peaks in Korea (Republic) are Hallasan on Jeju island (1,950m), Jirisan (1,915m) and Soraksan (1,708m).
(as of 05.2016)
Area: 99,720 square km (land and water)
Capital: Seoul (9,995,784 inhabitants)
Busan (3,510,833 inhabitants)
Incheon (2,933,959 inhabitants)
Daegu (2,485,134 inhabitants)
Daejeon (1,516,494 inhabitants)
Gwangju (1,472,317 inhabitants)
Ulsan (1,173,147 inhabitants)
Total Population: 51,601,265
Population Density: 519 inhabitants/square km
Population growth rate: 0.14% (2015 est.)
Birth rate: 8.19 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
(Sources: Statistics Korea (KOSTAT), CIA World Factbook)
Korea is divided into nine administrative provinces (do), one town with special status (Seoul), the self-governing city of Sejong, and six large cities (Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Incheon, Daejeon and Ulsan). In total there are 72 towns (si) and 91 administrative districts (gu). The second biggest town - after the capital Seoul - is Busan, which is also home to the country’s largest port.
The Korean flag is called Taegukki. It symbolizes the principles of Yin and Yang of the Asian philosophy and is also known as the 'Philosophical Flag'. The blue and red colored circle in the middle is divided into two equal parts by a curved border. The top red half represents the positive cosmic powers of the Yang. The lower blue part illustrates the negative cosmic energies of the Yin. These twin cosmic forces together personify the perfect concept of perpetual balance and harmony. The circle is surrounded by four trigrams at each corner. Each trigram symbolizes one of the four universal elements: heaven, earth, fire and water.
Mainland Korea is located in the temperate zone and enjoys four distinct seasons. Jeju has a humid subtropical climate. Korea's climate is typical for the North-Asian continent with its cold, dry winters and hot, humid summers. The most pleasant seasons and therefore ideal times for traveling to Korea are spring and autumn. Both seasons are rather short, but very pleasant with clear weather, comfortable temperatures, little precipitation and many days of sunshine. Important exhibitions take place during this time.
Spring starts at the end of March or in early April. From March until May, sunny weather prevails and temperatures lie in the 15 to 20 degrees Celsius range. Summer tends to be hot and humid with average temperatures of more than 20 degrees Celsius in June. The monsoon rains start by the end of June and last until mid/end of July. Almost half of the annual precipitation falls during this time. After the rainy season is over, hot summer starts with temperatures reaching up to 38 degrees Celsius and humidity increasing to up to 80%. Autumn lasts from the end of September until November and the continental wind brings clear and dry weather. During the winter season from December until February, temperatures can drop as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius. Winter is dominated by a dry cold that is intensified by icy north-west winds. However, frequent sunshine provides relief from the cold. When travelling to Korea during this period, it is advisable to bring warm, wind-resistant clothes and good footwear.
Air temperature and humidity in the Seoul region are shown in the chart below:
Source: National Statistical Office (NSO)
The population of the Republic of Korea stands at 51.5 mil. (Dec 2015 est.). With a population density of 491.8 inhabitants per square kilometer, Korea ranks third in the world after Bangladesh and Taiwan, not counting states smaller than 2500 square kilometers in size.
Koreans are believed to be descendants of Mongol, Turkic and Tungusic people. Archeological evidence suggests that proto-Koreans migrated from south-central Siberia to the Korean peninsula. In cultural and ethnic respects, Korea is a very homogeneous nation.
The classification of the Korean language is subject to debate. It is considered to be either a language isolate or to belong to the group of Altaic languages, which also includes Mongolian, Japanese, Finnish, Hungarian and Turkish. There is no relation to the Chinese language. However, the Korean language frequently uses Chinese borrowings. Approx. 77 million people worldwide speak Korean. In 1443, King Sejong (1418 - 1450) invented Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. It consists of 10 vowels and 14 consonants which are used to form numerous syllabic groupings. Even today, many Sino-Korean words are written in Chinese characters.
The first human presence on the Korean peninsula dates back to the Palaeolithic Age, approx. 500.000 B.C., when migrating tribes from central and northern Asia first arrived on the peninsula.
The legendary foundation of the first kingdom, Gojoseon, took place in 2333 B.C. According to the legend, the kingdom was founded by Dangun, son of a heavenly king and a woman who began life as a bear.
The three kingdoms Silla (57 B.C. - 935), Goguryeo (37 B.C. - 668) and Baekje (18 B.C. - 660) were formed in the 1st century B.C. This period is known as the Three Kingdoms Period. The three kingdoms gradually expanded over the whole peninsula and also into parts of Manchuria. In 668 and 660 respectively, Silla attacked and defeated Goguryeo and Baekje and united the three kingdoms. Unified, Silla presided over one of Korea's greatest eras of cultural development. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the countless historical sites found in and around present-day Gyeongju, the ancient Silla capital.
The dynasty of Goryeo was founded in 918 and by 932 replaced Silla as the ruling dynasty. Buddhism was the state religion and exerted a wide influence on politics and administration. The name 'Korea' is derived from 'Goryeo'.
Goryeo was superseded by the Joseon dynasty in 1392. The Joseon dynasty (1392-1910) staked its future on the ideals and practices of Neo-Confucianism. One of the most important cultural achievements during this time is the development of the Korean script (Hangeul). Strong social hierarchies characterized state and society in traditional Korea. The elite represented the civilian and military lords (Yangban). In the agrarian society of Korea, the king was the formal chief proprietor of the land. The kingdom of Joseon was part of the Sino-centric world order and maintained tribute relationships with China (Sadaejuui) and limited trade relations with Japan (Gyorin). However, in general, the empire was 'hermetically sealed' and known as the 'Hermit Kingdom'.
Since the second half of the 19th century, Korea came to the fore of the upcoming states around the world, in particular Russia and Japan. Japan was able to win its rivalry with Russia over Korea and concluded a protectorate treaty with Korea in 1905. Through an annexation treaty in 1910, Korea was integrated into the Japanese empire as government-general Chosen.
The Japanese colonial period in Korea (1910-1945) was marked by oppression of the Korean population and depredation of the resources on the Korean peninsula. Japanese forces bloodily defeated a big public rebellion for the independence of Korea, known as the ‘First March Movement’, in 1919. Repressive politics were continued throughout the colonial period. With Japan’s invasion of China, Korea began to become increasingly affected by Japan’s war efforts. Japan sought to assimilate the Korean population through radical policies designed to exterminate the Korean culture. Speaking of the Korean language was outlawed in public places, the education sector and businesses and Koreans were forced to adopt Japanese names. As such, the scars of the colonial past seem to be a long way from being healed for the Korean public. The relations between Japan and Korea and the attitudes towards each other are still overshadowed by the countries’ history. In this regard, the most contentious present day issues surround the so called “comfort women” (euphemism for Korean women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military), the status of the Dokdo-Islands (Liancourt Rocks), the status of the Zainichi Koreans in Japan, the lack of apologies by the Japanese government for Japanese atrocities and war crimes committed during the colonial period and the overall evaluation of the colonial period. In addition, controversial Japanese history textbooks repeatedly cause diplomatic rows in East Asia.
Three weeks after the Japanese capitulation on August 15, 1945, the US Army under General John R. Hodge occupied the Korean peninsula south of the 38th parallel and established the United States Army Military Government in Korea (USAMGIK). Shortly before, the Red Army had already occupied the northern half of the peninsula. Korea got involved in the conflict between the two superpowers. The Soviet Union supported the Korean communists in the North around Kim Il-sung and the United States helped conservative nationalists in the South around Rhee Syng-man.
As a result of general elections held in the southern part of the Korean peninsula on May 10, 1948 and supervised by the UN Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK), a parliament and government was established. On August 15, 1948, the Republic of Korea was officially established with Seoul as its capital and Rhee Syng-man as its first president. Rhee was an active member of the Korean independence movement on part of the nationalists and spent many years in American exile. Shortly thereafter, a communist regime was established in the North with Kim Il-ung as its leader. On September 9, 1948, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was officially proclaimed with Pyongyang as its capital. This led to the division of Korea and the national tragedy which has overshadowed the Korean peninsula ever since. The Korean War (1950-53) started as a fratricidal war initiated by the North and supported by Moscow. It evolved into an international conflict through the intervention of UN troops on sides of South Korea. Later in 1950, China became involved in the war and sent so-called “volunteer forces” to fight on behalf of North Korea. Furthermore, throughout the war, the Soviet Union provided North Korea with military advice and logistical support. During the Korean War, an estimated 2.5 million people were killed and most cities lay in tatters. The trauma of the war is still alive in both parts of Korea and it causes a feeling of mutual distrust which complicates normalization of relations between North and South Korea. Consequently, the last few decades were characterized by high tensions and various military incidents.
In the first Constitution of South Korea, the form of government was defined as 'Democratic Republic'. However, the reality was very different – the country was ruled by an authoritarian regime mostly composed of military or former military. The first president of the Republic of Korea was Rhee Syng-man, the former leader of the government in exile. However, after rumors spread that he had manipulated his fourth re-election in 1960, public unrests led by students forced him to resign. During the next decades, South Korea underwent two military coups in 1961 and 1979 respectively and martial law was imposed a total of 12 times.
The subsequent government, which was formed by the successful opposition party under Chang Myon, was short-lived because a military coup took over control of the government. In May 1961, General Park Chung-hee took power. After an amendment was made to the Constitution, General Park Chung-hee was elected president of the Republic. Rapid economic development began during this period and the country remained authoritarian under his leadership. President Park was assassinated in October 1979.
After the assassination of Park Chung-hee and during the following interim government under president Choi Kyu-ha, Korea went through a phase of political, social and economic instability. General Chun Doo-hwan came into power in a coup-like military revolt and was later elected president on August 27, 1980. Under his authoritarian rule, a public revolt in the South Korean town Gwangju was bloodily suppressed in May 1980 by the military. He vowed not to strive for a re-election after his first term. The term of president Chun Doo-hwan lasted until 1988.
General Roh Tae-woo became Chun Doo-hwan’s successor. His election preceded a declaration dated June 29, 1987 in which he promised extensive reforms in case of victory during the election. General Roh Tae-woo promised that among other things, he would plead for the introduction of a democratic governmental system and for the liberalization of public life. After his election victory, Roh Tae-woo assumed office as the new president in February 1988.
A number of measures were taken to lessen the authoritarian nature of the government. With the hosting and the successful staging of the Olympic Summer Games in Seoul in September/October 1988, President Roh Tae-woo was able to bring Korea out of its political isolation. A breakthrough in the relations with socialist countries took place in January 1989 with the commencement of official trade relations with countries that belonged to the former Soviet Union. Moreover, diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union (1990) and almost all other states of the former 'Eastern Bloc', as well as with China (1992), were established.
Kim Young-sam was elected new president in December 1992 and inaugurated in February 1993, marking the first time in more than 30 years that the Republic had a president without a military background. Kim Young-sam pursued an ambitious governmental program. At the center of his political ambition was an opening of Korean society, the fight against corruption, the increase of the country's international competitiveness as well as achieving the status of belonging to one of the leading developed nations of the world. During his term, South Korea joined the OECD. Connected to his politics were a global deregulation plan for various spheres (e.g. finances, telecommunication, transport, etc.) as well as a targeted industrial policy (e.g. support and promotion of the middle class, the so-called future technologies or the improvement of the education system). A process of 'rethinking' within the Korean population was supposed to accompany the globalization of its economy.
The presidential election on December 18, 1997 swept Kim Dae-jung into office. In total, Kim Dae-jung ran three times for president. The advocate for democracy had spent six years of his life in prison and another ten years in exile or in detention. With his inauguration in February 1998, a historical step took place with regards to the development of democracy in Korea: For the first time in the history of the country, an opposition candidate had won the presidency.
President Kim assumed a difficult office. The economic and financial crisis that began 1997 turned the country overnight into a crisis area. President Kim sought to improve the country’s relationship with North Korea. He introduced his ‘sunshine policy’, hoping to bring the two countries closer together. The most important event in external politics in 2000 was the summit between South Korean president Kim Dae-Jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang. The summit lasted from June 13-15, 2000 and culminated in the successful signing of a joint declaration.
On October 13, 2000, President Kim was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee for his 'sunshine policy', the improvement of relations with North Korea, but also for his decades of involvement in human rights issues. The presidency of Kim ended in February 2003.
Roh Moo-hyun, the liberal candidate of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), was elected president on December 19, 2002, defeating the conservative candidate of the Grand National Party (GNP), Lee Hoi-chang in a tight race. Roh earned 48.9% of the votes whereas Lee received 46.6%. On February 25, 2003, Roh officially assumed office for the 16th presidency and became the successor to Kim Dae-jung.
President Roh took office with the agenda of establishing Korea as the hub of Northeast Asia, continuing the engagement policy towards North Korea started by his predecessor Kim Dae-jung, redefining the security relationship with the United States, pushing for decentralization, continuing pressure on Chaebols (big conglomerates) and enhancing corporate transparency, reforming education and tax systems and improving labor-management relations. In 2009, former president Roh Moo-hyun faced allegations of accepting bribes from a businessman during his term. The former human-rights lawyer felt ashamed by the public accusations and later apologized for the scandal albeit never admitting to having accepted bribes. The suicide of Roh Moo-hyun on May 23, 2009 shocked the Korean society.
On December 19, 2007, Lee Myung-bak (GNP), the former mayor of Seoul, was elected president and inaugurated on February 25, 2008. The voter turnout of 63% was the lowest in the history of the nation’s presidential elections. He was the first Korean president with a business background to be elected and won the favor of his voters with his pledge “Economy, First!” and by promising a tougher line on North Korea. On April 9, 2008, the GNP won 151 out of 299 seats in the parliamentary elections, pushing the United Democratic Party (UDP) with 81 seats into second place. Major achievements under his administration include the conclusion of a FTA with the European Union and the ratification of the Korea – US FTA.
In the Korean legislative elections which were held in April 2012, the Saenuri party (former Grand National Party) renewed its majority in the national assembly, winning 42.8% of the popular vote.
The current president Park Geun-hye, daughter of former authoritarian ruler Park Chung-hee, was elected on December 19, 2012, with 51.6% of votes. While she has the same party affiliation as her predecessor, the voter turnout was the highest since the highly politicized election of Kim Dae-jung and reached 75.8%.
The South Korean political system can be characterized as a presidential representative democratic republic. It has a multi-party system, with the two major parties being the Saenuri party (named Grand National Party until February 2012) and the United New Democratic Party. Minor parties include, among others, the Democratic Labor Party and Democratic Party. The president is head of state, Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and possesses comparably strong executive powers. The president is elected for a five year term and cannot be re-elected.
The constitution provides for the division of powers between the legislature, executive and judicature branch. Legislative power is vested in both, National Assembly and the government. The National Assembly is elected for a four year term. Since 1948, the constitution underwent six major revisions, having been last revised in 1988. Korea’s transformation from a highly authoritarian into a democratic society is remarkable in that it has been accompanied by a high rate of economic growth rate throughout the last decades. It is the only country in the world which has successfully transformed from being a major recipient of Official Development Aid (ODA) to the status of being a major donor of ODA.
Since the 1960s, Korea has undergone a rapid development from an agrarian society into a highly industrialized state. This development model was facilitated by various factors, such as a relative autonomy of the state, central co-ordination, middle- and long-term planning, high flexibility with regards to the determination of strategic industrial sectors, the concentration of capital investments in big industrial conglomerates (Chaebol) as well as by the abundant availability of cheap labor. The stimulation of exports was the basis for the country’s industrialization. A structural transformation from light industry in the 1960s, to heavy and chemical industries in the 1970s, to high-tech industries in the 1980s and 1990s took place. The annual growth of the gross domestic product averaged more than 8% between 1962 and 1996.
In November 1997, Korea was badly affected - like other economies in Asia - by the Asian economic and financial crisis. The prices on the Korean market fell considerably. The Korean currency Won which had been stable for many years, depreciated against the US-Dollar to half of its original value. However, the government of President Kim Dae-jung, together with the International Monetary Fund, was able to solve the financial crisis. Loans were provided by the IMF and structural reforms were conducted in many sectors. This included the restructuring of the banking sector, the opening of capital markets and the reorganization of the corporate sector.
Korea recovered quickly from the Asian crisis. In 1999, the Korean economy was back on track and international rating agencies restored Korea's good credit rating. Whereas economic growth was still minus 6.7% in 1998, it increased to 10.9% in 1999. In 2000, a growth rate of 9.3% was achieved. Due to the cool-down of the world economy, the economic growth in Korea dropped to 3% in 2001. Especially the situation in the United States and Japan, besides China by far the most important trading partners of Korea, had a big impact on the Korean economy.
In 2002, GDP growth with a rate of 6.3% nearly doubled in comparison to the preceding year. This trend was supported by an increase in private consumption in the first half of the year and increasing exports, especially in the second half of 2002. The Korean government fostered the economic boom by increasing public spending, especially during the first months of 2002. The Korean government also continued to make progress in the liberalization and opening of the Korean market and in abolishing tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.
In 2003, the Korean economy could not continue the upward trend seen in 2002. The GDP growth rate shrunk to 3.1%. The economic growth was powered by strong exports and construction investment amidst decreased private consumption and investment in machinery and equipment. Semiconductor exports showed an increase of 17.5% and exports of passenger cars a 31.2% increase. For the year 2004, the real growth rate of Korea's GDP has climbed to 4.7%. After a slight decline in 2005, the economy grew in 2006 by 5.1%.
In 2007, the economy experienced a slight slowdown with a growth rate of 5%. In 2008, the world financial crisis also dragged down Korea’s export-based economy. Korean banks hold a high level of debt which makes its financial system disproportionately vulnerable to fallouts from a worldwide economic downturn. Pushed by an alarming decrease in capital investments of 16.1%, the recession intensified in the fourth quarter of 2008. Thus, the growth rate could not recover in 2008 but dropped further to 2.2%. Private consumption was affected as well. It grew by only 0.9% compared to 4.5% in 2007. Consumer prices rose by approximately 5% and the Korean won faced a devaluation of almost 30%. Yet, compared to other OECD member states, Korea performed remarkably well and the country managed to avoid entering technical recession.
President Lee Myung-bak’s business friendly policy which included a 37 bn USD stimulus package, tax and interest rate cuts was hoped to bring the crisis to a halt in the second half of 2009. Nevertheless, economic growth came to ha halt in 2009. The economy quickly recovered however, achieving an estimated growth rate of 4.5% in 2010 and 5.0% in 2011. Even though it slowed down to 2.0% in 2012, estimates do expect a slow upwards turn in 2013. For the current year, the rate of economic growth is predicted to be 2.6% by the Bank of Korea.
The Korean financial institutions are stable and in far better condition than during the financial crisis of the 1990s. The government has sufficient foreign reserves of 328.1 bn USD as of May 2013 and a relatively low public debt. Moreover, Korea is ranked 22nd position on the IMD world competitiveness ranking in 2013, nine places better than in 2008. This underlines that the country’s key industries have achieved a high level of global competitiveness. Furthermore, over the last few years, Korea has significantly improved its ranking on the ease of doing business index, from the 23rd place in 2009 to the 8th place in 2013. However, household debt continues to be on the rise and as of April 2013 had reached 959.4bn USD, thereby exceeding Korea’s annual disposable income and stirring fears of a new credit card crisis.
There has always been an excellent relationship between Germany and Korea. In the first half of 2014, Germany was Korea's seventh largest import and 19th largest export partner. A further positive development in the economic relations between Germany and Korea is expected for the future. The 130th anniversary of Korean-German relations, which is celebrated in 2013, is yet another milestone of close cooperation between the two countries.
Tourists, visitors and business travelers holding a valid passport can stay for up to 90 days without applying for a visa. Passports must be valid at least six months after date of entry.
In case of stays exceeding 90 days and/or visits for employment purposes, it is necessary to apply for a visa at a diplomatic representative of Korea in Germany. Provided that certain conditions are fulfilled, it is also possible for German citizens to apply for the necessary residence title for a stay exceeding 90 days after arrival in Korea. Please refer to the Korean embassy or consulate’s official website for further information on entry regulations.
There are no restrictions on the amount of cash, including Korean won, which can be brought into Korea. Should the value of cash and traveler checks (denominated in domestic and/or foreign currencies) exceed 10,000 USD, a so-called "Foreign Exchange Record" must be filled out before clearing customs. This declaration allows travelers to take up to the same amount of money out of the country again. Without declaring the import of money a value equivalent to 10,000 USD is allowed to be brought in and out. Exchanging Korean won in Europe is not recommended due to unfavorable exchange rates.
Banknotes and traveler checks can be exchanged at similar rates in banks located at international airports, banks with a foreign exchange license and authorized money exchangers (hotels).
The Korean unit of currency is the won, with 10, 50, 100 and 500 won coins and notes in denominations of 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 50,000 won. Bank checks can be obtained for any amount and used as if they were cash. A service charge is usually levied for cashing these checks.
In case of lost checks, an immediate notification of the issuing bank makes a reimbursement of the stated amount possible, although a service fee will be charged. Hence, it is highly recommendable to note down the number and amount for each check. In case of larger amounts, making a photocopy of each check is advisable.
Duty-free goods include the following (per person):
• Goods totaling 400 USD or less which were purchased or acquired outside Korea such as cameras, electronic equipment, leather goods, perfume concentrate, jewelry, watches, sporting goods as well as personal items such as new clothing, footwear, articles for personal hygiene/grooming.
• Items for daily life, such as clothes or toiletries and personal jewelry (including watches) intended for your own use or wear
• Laptop computers and other similar electronic equipment for personal/professional use
• Personal goods already used by the traveler (proof of the date of purchase may be required).
• Up to 1 bottle of liquor (less than 1 liter and less than US $400)
• 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, 250 grams of tobacco, 60 ml of perfume
• Visitor's (non-resident's) goods, which will be taken out of Korea upon departure (The total quantity of the goods should be declared for duty exemption.)
• Goods which were declared upon departure from Korea and are being brought back
• Narcotics or anesthetics and stimulants with similar effects as well as utensils for their usage
• Counterfeit money
• Pistols, guns (special permission is even needed for swords, hunting rifles and other sporting rifles), any sort of ammunition
• Books, publications, drawings and paintings, films, phonographic materials, video works and other items of similar nature which infringe upon the constitution, public peace or customs
• Goods which reveal confidential information on the government or which may be used for intelligence activities
• CITES protected Animals, plant materials and their derivatives
• Currency amounts of 10,000 USD or more (special regulations apply)
For more details, please refer to the 'Traveler information' section of the official customs site of the 'Korea Customs Service'.
The time difference between Germany and Korea is Central European Time + 8 hours. During European summer time, the difference is Central European Time + 7 hours.
Vaccinations before entering Korea from Germany are not obligatory.
This is not the case if entering from a cholera or yellow fever region. For more information please refer to the Vaccination guide of the 'Auswaertiges Amt' at www.auswaertiges-amt.de
Korea has eight airports offering international connections. Incheon Int’l Airport, located less than 1 hour from Seoul, offers direct flights between Seoul and the most important cities in the world. Other major airports include Gimpo Int’l Airport (Seoul), Gimhae Int’l Airport (Busan) and Jeju Int’l Airport (Jeju-do). These airports mainly serve domestic routes and routes to other countries in Asia.
From Germany, direct flights to Korea are available from Frankfurt (Lufthansa, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines) and Munich (Lufthansa) to Incheon Int’l Airport. Lufthansa also offers flights to Gimhae Int’l Airport (Busan) with a stop-over at Incheon Int’l Airport. Incheon Int’l Airport is well connected to various destinations within Seoul and other destinations in Korea by train, limousine bus and taxi.
Travelers are advised to book their overnight stays in Seoul in advance as hotels can be heavily booked. When making a reservation, you can inquire about corporate rates. Reductions of as much as 20% are not uncommon. For direct hotel booking, please refer to our member hotels.
Customers can pay in hotels, restaurants and designated stores with the following international credit cards: Visa, Master Card, American Express and Diners Club. Most small stores also accept credit cards.
Formal introductions are of utmost importance in Korea. A foreign businessperson should be introduced to his Korean business partner by an influential and well-connected Korean middleman. Through this introduction, the respect given to the middleman is likely to be transferred to the foreigner.
Every Korean businessman has a certain position within societal hierarchy. Hence, he needs to know the hierarchical position of his partner in order to know how to relate with him. For this reason, business cards including titles (English on one side, Korean on the other side) are exchanged.
Koreans stress the importance of appearance and hence suitable business attire (normally dark suits) should always be worn when meeting with Korean business partners.
Status symbols play a very important role in Korea. Luxury cars, country club memberships, expensive watches, use of exclusive hotels, etc. are considered as indicators for economic success. Furthermore, it is very common in Korea to present gifts to the future partner. Typical presents from the guest's native country are favorites.
For further information consult our publication „Korea auf einen Blick - Handbuch zum Leben und Arbeiten in Korea“.
Government offices are open weekdays from 9 am until 6 pm and Saturdays from 9 am until 1 pm (except every second and fourth Saturday). Banks are open from 9 am until 4 pm on weekdays. Large department stores and big retail markets are open seven days a week from 10 am until 8 pm or even longer. They are closed only on the main holiday of Sollal and Chuseok. Smaller stores, markets, and private enterprises are open six days a week and with similar opening hours. Small convenient stores are open 24 hours and seven days a week.
The following is an overview of Korea's National Celebration Days and other holidays and special days. Some of the holidays are based upon the lunar calendar and thus differ from the dates on the Gregorian calendar.
Companies, banks and government offices are closed during these holidays. Nevertheless, many stores remain open. The main holiday season is from mid-July to mid-August, but most employees take only one to two weeks of holidays
National Celebration Days
Independence (Declaration) Day
National Foundation Day
Other Korean Holidays
New Year’s Day
Korean New Year’s Day
1st day of the lunar Korean Calendar (2017: Jan 28 / 2018: Feb 16)
Yes (3 days)
8th day of 4th lunar month (2017: May 3 / 2018: May 22)
Autumn Festival (Chuseok)
15th day of 8th lunar month (2017: Oct 4 / 2018: Sep 23)
Yes (3 days)
Special Days (not Holidays)
5th day of 5th lunar month (2017: May 30 / 2018: June 18)