General Info

Time Zone

Korea uses Korea Standard Time (KST), which is 9 hours ahead of UTC (UTC+09). There are several other countries that have the same time zone – Russia’s Yakutsk Time (YAKT); Japan’s Japan Standard Time (JST); Indonesia’s Eastern Indonesian Time (WIT); and Timor-Leste’s East Timor Time (TLT).

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Language

Korean is the official language of Korea. It is used throughout the Korean peninsula and its adjacent islands, including Jeju. Tourist information and interpretation services are available in English, Japanese, and Chinese at major tourist attractions for international visitors.

Climate

Located in the central region of the Korean Peninsula, Gyeonggi Province mostly has a continental climate and also a mountainous climate in the east. Winter is cold due to the seasonal wind from the northwest, whereas summer is hot with lots of precipitation. The annual average temperature is between 11-13°C, where the temperature in the mountain areas to the northeast is lower and the coastal areas to the southwest is higher. The temperature difference is greater in the inland areas than near the coast.

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National Holidays

In Korea, holidays and seasons are marked by various celebrations and customs. While Koreans use both the solar and lunar calendars, traditional holidays and seasonal events are usually celebrated based on the lunar calendar. Seollal and Chuseok are the two major holidays in Korea. On Seollal (January 1 of the lunar calendar), Koreans put on their finest clothes, bow to their elders, and visit ancestral graves. During Chuseok (August 15 of the lunar calendar), a celebration of the year’s harvest and thanksgiving, Koreans eat fresh harvested rice and songpyeon (rice cakes).

Currency

The monetary unit used in Korea is the won (₩). Bank notes come in denominations of 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 50,000 won bills and 1, 10, 50, 100, and 500 coins. The exchange rates (as of June 30, 2016) are: 1,151.00 KRW = 1 USD, 1,278.30 KRW = 1 EUR, and 1,120.63 KRW = 100 JPY.

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Tax

Korea’s tax free system can be divided into “Duty Free,” and “Tax Refund.” In duty free shops, no tax is applied to the price of items, including Individual Consumption Tax and Value Added Tax (VAT). Meanwhile, tax refund stores include tax and shoppers can apply for tax refunds at the airport for purchases of more than 30,000 won within 3 months of departure from Korea. Since January 1, 2016, immediate tax refund is offered to international travelers for convenient shopping. The prompt tax refund applies for purchases of less than 200,000 won, and is limited to a total value of 1,000,000 won per visit.

Business Hours: Government Offices & Banks

In Korea, government offices follow the hours 9:00-18:00. Banks are open 9:00-16:00 and closed on Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays.

Electricity

The standard voltage is 220 volts and 60 hertz.

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Visa

All foreign nationals entering Korea are required to have a Korean visa. Korea does not offer visa on arrival except in very rare occasions, so unless you are from a country that has a visa waiver agreement with Korea, you need to obtain a proper visa in advance.
* For detailed information on visa, please visit the official website (www.visa.go.kr).