General Information on South Korea

Here you will find interesting facts about South Korea that you should know before planning your trip to EcoMobility World Festival. 

Visa

Foreign nationals entering the Republic of Korea are generally required to have a valid passport and a Korean visa. However, many are permitted visa-free entry for a limited time under certain conditions. Find more information on countries under VISA exemption agreement with South Korea.

Food

Visitors to Korea will discover a wide array of unique and delicious Korean food. Food is a very important part of Korean culture, and Koreans pay great attention to the way in which food is served. In Korean food all dishes are served at the same time. A typical meal normally includes rice, soup, and several side dishes, the number of which may vary. Korean food is known for its spicy taste and fermented side dishes. Various preserved Korean food, such as kimchi (fermented spicy cabbage), jeotgal (seafood fermented in salt) and doenjang (fermented soy bean paste) are particularly popular due to their distinctive flavor and high nutritional value.

No tip is necessary in Korean restaurants and bars, as table service is already included in the final price. Politeness is appreciated as a way of showing your satisfaction.

Learn more about the variety of Korean food

Language

Korean is the official language of South Korea and North Korea. Unlike other languages that were created over a long period of time, Hangeul, Korea’s official alphabet was first invented by King Sejong (reign 1418-1450) during the Joseon Dynasty. Hangeul is regarded as the most systematic alphabet in the world, which makes it easy to learn how to read it. 

Useful Korean phrases 

Hi, how are you? - 안녕하세요 (Annyeonghaseyo)

My name is … - 제 이름은 …입니다 (je ireum-eun ... imnida)

Nice to meet you – 반가워요(bangawoyo)

How much is it? - 얼마예요? (eolmayeyo?)

Cheers! - 건배! (Geonbae!) 

Learn more about the history and structure of the Korean language.

Customs

Influenced by Confucian tradition, politeness and respect for elders are considered the distinct characteristics of Korean custom. When receiving something from people who are not close friends, be it a business card or a drink, use both hands and show your respect by bowing at the same time. Similarly, when you meet someone, bowing is the most common way to greet although in the business fields, shaking hands has now become common in Korea. 

Traditionally, Korean houses are designed to be entered without wearing shoes and many restaurants still follow this custom. So don’t forget to remove your shoes when entering a Korean home and some traditional restaurants. 

Learn more about other interesting Korean customs

National Holidays

Koreans officially follow the Gregorian calendar, although some holidays are based on the lunar calendar. During official public holidays, offices and banks are closed but palaces, museums, most restaurants, department stores, and amusement facilities are open. Korean Thanksgiving (September 18 - 20, 2013) will be celebrated during EcoMobility World Festival and is one of the most important traditional holidays for Koreans. Millions of people visit their hometowns to celebrate with their families during this time. It’s a celebration of the harvest and thanksgiving for the bounty of the earth. 

Find out more about the national holidays in Korea

Business Hours

Banks  

- Weekdays: 09:00 – 16:00 
- Weekends and National Holidays: Closed 
- Learn more about banking and ATM

Post Offices     

- Weekdays: 09:00 – 18:00   
- Saturdays: 09:00 – 13:00 
- Sundays & National Holidays: Closed

Foreign Diplomatic Missions   

- Weekdays: Hours vary, please visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for more information
- Weekends and National Holidays: Closed

Department Stores     

- 10:30 – 20:00  
- Typically one day a month (usually a Monday) department stores are closed to the public. However, closings will vary according to each store

Currency

-Korea's official monetary unit is the won.
-Currency Exchange Rate: One U.S dollar is roughly equivalent to 1,100 won.

The Korean currency consists of a ten thousand, five thousand, and one thousand won note, and five hundred, one hundred, fifty and ten won coins. Please note that exchange rates fluctuate daily; it is recommended to check current rates before making any large transactions.

Others

Dialling into Korea

When you make a phone call to Korea from abroad, first dial 82 (country code for Korea), then area code (omit the first digit 0), finally, dial the phone number you wish to call. For example: calling Seoul (area code 02) with 777-7777 as the phone number, dial +82-2-777-7777.

Pre-paid Phone Cards: Generally pre-paid phone cards are available at any convenience store or newsstand.

Emergency numbers 

  • Crime Reporting & Police 112
  • Fire and Medical Service 119
  • Information Centers 1330
  • Medical Referral Service 1339
  • Information Service - International call 00794

Weather

The heat of summer lasts into September with hot daytimes, but cooler mornings and evenings. In late summer to early autumn, typhoons rising from the South Pacific may occur. In September light and/or short pants, short-sleeved or sleeveless shirts together with cardigans or jackets (for the evening) are ideal.

-Average Temp. 23 °C

Time zone

Korea is 9 hours ahead of UTC (UTC+9)

Electricity

The standard voltage in Korea is 220 volts. The outlet has two round holes and is the same type used in France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Turkey, and many other countries. Visitors will require plug adaptors for continental Europe and potentially voltage converters.

Source: Korea Tourism Organization website, 2013