South Korea Travel Health Insurance – Country Review

Learn more about South Korea Travel Health Insurance with an overview from the CDC and the US State Department. Here we cover Vaccines, Medicines and Insurance.

At AardvarkCompare we can’t recommend travel insurance enough. Whether you are just traveling a few hundred miles from home to see family, or traveling to the other side of the world, travel insurance should be considered an essential part of your holiday packing. The hope is that you won’t have to use your travel insurance, and that you’ll have a fun and enjoyable trip. The following advice should help you make the most of your trip to South Korea.

Note: Always check that your destination country is one approved for travel by your travel insurance provider.

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South Korea Travel Health – CDC

All travelers

You should be up to date on routine vaccinations while traveling to any destination. Some vaccines may also be required for travel.

Vaccines and Medicines

Check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need.

Routine vaccines

Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

Measles

  • Infants (6 through 11 months old): 1 dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine before travel. This dose does not count as the first dose in the routine childhood vaccination series.
  • People 12 months old or older, with no evidence of immunity or no written documentation of any doses: 2 doses of MMR vaccine before travel. The 2 doses must be given 28 days apart.
  • People 12 months old or older who have written documentation of 1 dose and no other evidence of immunity: 1 additional dose before travel, at least 28 days after the previous dose.

Most travelers

Get travel vaccines and medicines because there is a risk of these diseases in the country you are visiting.

Hepatitis A

CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in South Korea, regardless of where you are eating or staying.

Typhoid

You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in South Korea. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.

Some travelers

Ask your doctor what vaccines and medicines you need based on where you are going, how long you are staying, what you will be doing, and if you are traveling from a country other than the US.

Hepatitis B

You can get hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products, so CDC recommends this vaccine if you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedures.

Japanese Encephalitis

You may need this vaccine if your trip will last more than a month, depending on where you are going in South Korea and what time of year you are traveling. You should also consider this vaccine if you plan to visit rural areas in South Korea or will be spending a lot of time outdoors, even for trips shorter than a month. Your doctor can help you decide if this vaccine is right for you based on your travel plans.

Malaria

When traveling in South Korea, you should avoid mosquito bites to prevent malaria. You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria, depending on your travel plans, such as where you are going, when you are traveling, and if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside. Talk to your doctor about how you can prevent malaria while traveling.

Areas of South Korea with risk of malaria: Limited to the months of March–December in rural areas in the northern parts of Incheon, Kangwon-do, and Kyônggi-do Provinces, including the demilitarized zone (DMZ). See more detailed information about malaria in South Korea

Rabies

Although rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in South Korea, it is not a major risk to most travelers. CDC recommends this vaccine only for these groups:

  • Travelers involved in outdoor and other activities in remote areas that put them at risk for bat bites (such as adventure travel and caving).
  • People who will be working with or around bats (such as wildlife professionals and researchers).
  • People who are taking long trips or moving to South Korea
  • Children, because they tend to play with animals, might not report bites, and are more likely to have animal bites on their head and neck.

Stay Health and Safe

Learn actions you can take to stay healthy and safe on your trip. Vaccines cannot protect you from many diseases in South Korea, so your behaviors are important.

Eat and Drink Safely

Food and water standards in South Korea are similar to those in the United States. Most travelers do not need to take special food or water precautions beyond what they normally do at home. However, travelers visiting rural or remote areas that are served by unregulated water sources such as private wells should take special precautions to ensure the safety of their drinking water.

Prevent bug bites

Bugs (like mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas) can spread a number of diseases in South Korea. Many of these diseases cannot be prevented with a vaccine or medicine. You can reduce your risk by taking steps to prevent bug bites.
What can I do to prevent bug bites?

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
  • Use an appropriate insect repellent (see below) .
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
  • Stay and sleep in air-conditioned or screened rooms.
  • Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

What type of insect repellent should I use?

  • FOR PROTECTION AGAINST TICKS AND MOSQUITOES: Use a repellent that contains 20% or more DEET for protection that lasts up to several hours.
  • FOR PROTECTION AGAINST MOSQUITOES ONLY: Products with one of the following active ingredients can also help prevent mosquito bites. Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection.
    • DEET
    • Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin)
    • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD
    • IR3535
  • Always use insect repellent as directed.

What should I do if I am bitten by bugs?

  • Avoid scratching bug bites, and apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to reduce the itching.
  • Check your entire body for ticks after outdoor activity. Be sure to remove ticks

What can I do to avoid bed bugs?

Although bed bugs do not carry disease, they are an annoyance. See our information page about avoiding bug bites for some easy tips to avoid them. For more information on bed bugs, see Bed Bugs. For more detailed information on avoiding bug bites, see Avoid Bug Bites.

Stay safe outdoors

If your travel plans in South Korea include outdoor activities, take these steps to stay safe and healthy during your trip.

  • Stay alert to changing weather conditions and adjust your plans if conditions become unsafe.
  • Prepare for activities by wearing the right clothes and packing protective items, such as bug spray, sunscreen, and a basic first aid kit.
  • Consider learning basic first aid and CPR before travel. Bring a travel health kit with items appropriate for your activities.
  • Heat-related illness, such as heat stroke, can be deadly. Eat and drink regularly, wear loose and lightweight clothing, and limit physical activity during high temperatures.
    • If you are outside for many hours in heat, eat salty snacks and drink water to stay hydrated and replace salt lost through sweating.
  • Protect yourself from UV radiation: use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15, wear protective clothing, and seek shade during the hottest time of day (10 a.m.–4 p.m.).
  • Be especially careful during summer months and at high elevation. Because sunlight reflects off snow, sand, and water, sun exposure may be increased during activities like skiing, swimming, and sailing.
  • Very cold temperatures can be dangerous. Dress in layers and cover heads, hands, and feet properly if you are visiting a cold location.

Stay safe around water

  • Swim only in designated swimming areas. Obey lifeguards and warning flags on beaches.
  • Practice safe boating—follow all boating safety laws, do not drink alcohol if driving a boat, and always wear a life jacket.
  • Do not dive into shallow water.
  • Do not swim in freshwater in developing areas or where sanitation is poor.
  • Avoid swallowing water when swimming. Untreated water can carry germs that make you sick.
  • To prevent infections, wear shoes on beaches where there may be animal waste.

Keep away from animals

Most animals avoid people, but they may attack if they feel threatened, are protecting their young or territory, or if they are injured or ill. Animal bites and scratches can lead to serious diseases such as rabies.
Follow these tips to protect yourself:

  • Do not touch or feed any animals you do not know.
  • Do not allow animals to lick open wounds, and do not get animal saliva in your eyes or mouth.
  • Avoid rodents and their urine and feces.
  • Traveling pets should be supervised closely and not allowed to come in contact with local animals.
  • If you wake in a room with a bat, seek medical care immediately. Bat bites may be hard to see.

All animals can pose a threat, but be extra careful around dogs, bats, monkeys, sea animals such as jellyfish, and snakes. If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, immediately:

  • Wash the wound with soap and clean water.
  • Go to a doctor right away.
  • Tell your doctor about your injury when you get back to the United States.

Consider buying medical evacuation insurance. Rabies is a deadly disease that must be treated quickly, and treatment may not be available in some countries.

Reduce your exposure to germs

Follow these tips to avoid getting sick or spreading illness to others while traveling:

  • Wash your hands often, especially before eating.
  • If soap and water aren’t available, clean hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Try to avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home or in your hotel room, unless you need medical care.

Avoid sharing body fluids

Diseases can be spread through body fluids, such as saliva, blood, vomit, and semen.
Protect yourself:

  • Use latex condoms correctly.
  • Do not inject drugs.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. People take more risks when intoxicated.
  • Do not share needles or any devices that can break the skin. That includes needles for tattoos, piercings, and acupuncture.
  • If you receive medical or dental care, make sure the equipment is disinfected or sanitized.

Know how to get medical care while traveling

Plan for how you will get health care during your trip, should the need arise:

  • Carry a list of local doctors and hospitals at your destination.
  • Review your health insurance plan to determine what medical services it would cover during your trip. Consider purchasing travel health and medical evacuation insurance.
  • Carry a card that identifies, in the local language, your blood type, chronic conditions or serious allergies, and the generic names of any medications you take.
  • Some prescription drugs may be illegal in other countries. Call the South Korea embassy to verify that all of your prescription(s) are legal to bring with you.
  • Bring all the medicines (including over-the-counter medicines) you think you might need during your trip, including extra in case of travel delays. Ask your doctor to help you get prescriptions filled early if you need to.

Many foreign hospitals and clinics are accredited by the Joint Commission International. A list of accredited facilities is available at their website (www.jointcommissioninternational.org).

In some countries, medicine (prescription and over-the-counter) may be substandard or counterfeit. Bring the medicines you will need from the United States to avoid having to buy them at your destination.

Malaria is a risk in some parts of South Korea. If you are going to a risk area, fill your malaria prescription before you leave, and take enough with you for the entire length of your trip. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking the pills; some need to be started before you leave.

Select safe transportation

Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries.
In many places cars, buses, large trucks, rickshaws, bikes, people on foot, and even animals share the same lanes of traffic, increasing the risk for crashes.

Walking

Be smart when you are traveling on foot.

  • Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks.
  • Pay attention to the traffic around you, especially in crowded areas.
  • Remember, people on foot do not always have the right of way in other countries.

Riding/Driving

Choose a safe vehicle.

  • Choose official taxis or public transportation, such as trains and buses.
  • Ride only in cars that have seatbelts.
  • Avoid overcrowded, overloaded, top-heavy buses and minivans.
  • Avoid riding on motorcycles or motorbikes, especially motorbike taxis. (Many crashes are caused by inexperienced motorbike drivers.)
  • Choose newer vehicles—they may have more safety features, such as airbags, and be more reliable.
  • Choose larger vehicles, which may provide more protection in crashes.

Think about the driver.

  • Do not drive after drinking alcohol or ride with someone who has been drinking.
  • Consider hiring a licensed, trained driver familiar with the area.
  • Arrange payment before departing.

Follow basic safety tips.

  • Wear a seatbelt at all times.
  • Sit in the back seat of cars and taxis.
  • When on motorbikes or bicycles, always wear a helmet. (Bring a helmet from home, if needed.)
  • Avoid driving at night; street lighting in certain parts of South Korea may be poor.
  • Do not use a cell phone or text while driving (illegal in many countries).
  • Travel during daylight hours only, especially in rural areas.
  • If you choose to drive a vehicle in South Korea, learn the local traffic laws and have the proper paperwork.
  • Get any driving permits and insurance you may need. Get an International Driving Permit (IDP). Carry the IDP and a US-issued driver’s license at all times.
  • Check with your auto insurance policy’s international coverage, and get more coverage if needed. Make sure you have liability insurance.

Flying

  • Avoid using local, unscheduled aircraft.
  • If possible, fly on larger planes (more than 30 seats); larger airplanes are more likely to have regular safety inspections.
  • Try to schedule flights during daylight hours and in good weather.

Medical Evacuation Insurance

If you are seriously injured, emergency care may not be available or may not meet US standards. Trauma care centers are uncommon outside urban areas. Having medical evacuation insurance can be helpful for these reasons.

Helpful Resources

Road Safety Overseas (Information from the US Department of State): Includes tips on driving in other countries, International Driving Permits, auto insurance, and other resources.
The Association for International Road Travel has country-specific Road Travel Reports available for most countries for a minimal fee.

Maintain personal security

Use the same common sense traveling overseas that you would at home, and always stay alert and aware of your surroundings.

Before you leave

  • Research your destination(s), including local laws, customs, and culture.
  • Monitor travel warnings and alerts and read travel tips from the US Department of State.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
  • Leave a copy of your itinerary, contact information, credit cards, and passport with someone at home.
  • Pack as light as possible, and leave at home any item you could not replace.

While at your destination(s)

  • Carry contact information for the nearest US embassy or consulate.
  • Carry a photocopy of your passport and entry stamp; leave the actual passport securely in your hotel.
  • Follow all local laws and social customs.
  • Do not wear expensive clothing or jewelry.
  • Always keep hotel doors locked, and store valuables in secure areas.
  • If possible, choose hotel rooms between the 2nd and 6th floors.

Healthy Travel Packing List

Use the Healthy Travel Packing List for South Korea for a list of health-related items to consider packing for your trip. Talk to your doctor about which items are most important for you.

Why does CDC recommend packing these health-related items?

It’s best to be prepared to prevent and treat common illnesses and injuries. Some supplies and medicines may be difficult to find at your destination, may have different names, or may have different ingredients than what you normally use.

After Your Trip

If you are not feeling well after your trip, you may need to see a doctor. If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, see Find a Clinic. Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip. Also tell your doctor if you were bitten or scratched by an animal while traveling.

For more information on what to do if you are sick after your trip, see Getting Sick after Travel.

South Korea Travel Health – The US State Department

U.S.- SOUTH KOREA RELATIONS

The United States and Korea’s Joseon Dynasty established diplomatic relations under the 1882 Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, and the first U.S. diplomatic envoy arrived in Korea in 1883. U.S.-Korea relations continued until 1905, when Japan assumed direction over Korean foreign affairs. In 1910, Japan began a 35-year period of colonial rule over Korea. Following Japan’s surrender in 1945, at the end of World War II, the Korean Peninsula was divided at the 38th parallel into two occupation zones, with the United States in the South and the Soviet Union in the North. Initial hopes for a unified, independent Korea were not realized, and in 1948 two separate nations were established — the Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) in the South, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the North. In 1949, the United States established diplomatic relations with the Republic of Korea.

On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces invaded the R.O.K.. Led by the United States, a United Nations coalition of 16 countries undertook its defense. Following China’s entry into the war on behalf of North Korea later that year, a stalemate ensued for the final two years of the conflict until an armistice was concluded on July 27, 1953. A peace treaty has never been signed. In 1953, at the conclusion of the Korean War, the United States and the Republic of Korea signed a Mutual Defense Treaty, the foundation of a comprehensive alliance that endures today.

In the decades after the war, the R.O.K. experienced political turmoil under autocratic leadership, but developed a vocal civil society that led to strong protests against authoritarian rule. Pro-democracy activities intensified in the 1980s and the R.O.K. began the transition to what is now a vibrant, democratic system. U.S.-R.O.K. ties are based on common values of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

The United States and the R.O.K. share a long history of friendship and cooperation based on shared values and interests. The two countries work together to combat regional and global threats and to strengthen their economies. The United States has maintained Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine personnel in the R.O.K. in support of its commitment under the U.S.-R.O.K. Mutual Defense Treaty to help the R.O.K. defend itself against external aggression. In 2013, the two countries celebrated the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-R.O.K. alliance. A Combined Forces Command coordinates operations between U.S. units and R.O.K. armed forces. The United States and the R.O.K. coordinate closely on the North Korean nuclear issue and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. As the R.O.K.’s economy has developed (it joined the OECD in 1996), trade and investment ties have become an increasingly important aspect of the U.S.-R.O.K. relationship.

In recent years, the U.S.-R.O.K. alliance has expanded into a deep, comprehensive global partnership, and the R.O.K.’s role as a regional and global leader continues to grow. The R.O.K. hosted the 2010 G-20 Summit, the 2011 Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, the 2013 Seoul Conference on Cyberspace, and the 2014 International Telecommunication Union Plenipotentiary Conference. In 2017, the R.O.K. chaired the Global Health Security Agenda Steering Group. The R.O.K. is a committed member of various international nonproliferation regimes, including the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT). The R.O.K. has pledged more than half a billion dollars towards development efforts including health security, women’s empowerment, and humanitarian assistance.

The emergence of the R.O.K. as a global leader has led to an increasingly dynamic U.S.-R.O.K. Alliance focused on future-oriented partnership opportunities including space, energy, health, climate change, and cyber. The United States and R.O.K. renewed in 2015 the Civil Nuclear “123” Agreement and maintain a High-Level Bilateral Commission to address civil nuclear issues of mutual interest. Our two countries signed in 2016 a Civil Space Framework Agreement to increase cooperation in civil space exploration and we hold biennial cabinet-level Joint Committee Meetings on science and technology. The R.O.K. is an active partner on efforts combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, and is working to establish a World Fisheries University.

People-to-people ties between the United States and the R.O.K. have never been stronger are strong. The R.O.K. is a top three origin country in absolute terms for international students attending U.S. colleges and universities. Educational exchanges include a vibrant Fulbright exchange program as well as the Work, English Study, and Travel (WEST) program that gives a diverse group of Korean students the opportunity to learn more about the United States.

Underscoring the strength of the U.S.-R.O.K. alliance, President Moon’s first overseas trip after his inauguration was to the United States in June 2017. In November 2017, President Trump made the first state visit to the Republic of Korea by a U.S. President in 25 years.

U.S. Assistance to South Korea

The United States provides no development assistance to the R.O.K.. The R.O.K., a recipient of U.S. assistance in the years after the Korean War, is a development aid donor today.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Over the past several decades, the R.O.K. has achieved a remarkably high level of economic growth and is now the United States’ sixth-largest goods trading partner with a trillion-dollar economy. Major U.S. firms have long been leading investors, while the R.O.K.’s top firms have made significant investments in the United States. There are large-scale flows of manufactured goods, agricultural products, services, and technology between the two countries. R.O.K. foreign direct investment in the United States has nearly doubled since 2011 from $19.7 billion to $38.8 billion in 2016, making the Republic of Korea the second largest Asian source of foreign direct investment into the United States.

During President Trump’s 2017 visit to the Republic of Korea, R.O.K. companies announced plans to begin a series of projects in the United States over the next four years valued at $17.3 billion. The Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) entered into force on March 15, 2012, underscoring the depth of bilateral trade ties. In March 2018, the United States and the Republic of Korea reached an agreement on the renegotiation of the KORUS FTA.

South Korea’s Membership in International Organizations

The R.O.K. and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, G-20, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. The R.O.K. hosts the Green Climate Fund, an international organization associated with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The R.O.K. also is a Partner for Cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and an observer to the Organization of American States.

Bilateral Representation

South Korea maintain an embassy in the United States at 2450 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-939-5600).

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