South Korean Passports
Citizens of South Korea are entitled to a Republic of Korea passport to facilitate international travel. It serves as a proof of the holder’s personal information like name, nationality and date of birth. It is like any other passports except it also indicates its holder’s resident registration numbers. It is issued by the Foreign Affairs Ministry. If you’re a South Korean national residing overseas, you may obtain one from the consular section of any South Korean embassy or consulate in your country.
According to a study by Henley & Partners, South Korea is one of the many countries with a Henley Visa Restrictions Index of 115. This means that South Korean nationals need only their passports to enjoy visa-free access to 115 territories and countries including most of Latin American countries, most of European countries, some of Southeast Asian countries, Canada, Australia and Japan.
However, with your South Korean passport, you are not allowed by the government to travel to Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia as a result of the July 2007 South Korean hostage crisis that took place in Afghanistan.
There are two major types of South Korean passports.
- Ordinary passport. Every South Korean citizen is entitled to an ordinary passport. This type is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the main office of which is in Seoul. South Korean citizens abroad can obtain one from any South Korean consular mission in their countries of residence.
- Official passport. Official passports are issued to public servants and members of the National Assembly for their official visit abroad. Official passports are usually exempted from fees.
The best way to become oriented with the passport application process of South Korea is to contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or any South Korean embassy or consulate. They will provide you with detailed guide and other travel-related information. Meanwhile, here are the required documents that you need to prepare.
- an original copy of your birth certificate
- proof of citizenship
- other certificates of identity
- passport-style photographs
- a self-addressed stamped envelope
- application processing fee
- a completed application form
Application forms are available at the Ministry and consular offices. You may also download one on the Internet.
Note that this passport is only valid in South Korea (Republic of Korea). This does not allow you to travel to or out of North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). However, from the point of view of South Korea, North Korea is part of its territory but under a different administration. Thus, exiting from the area under South Korea’s administration to the North is not considered international travel. In other words, going to and from North Korea is not considered breaking the continuity of your stay provided that you don’t land in a third territory.
Nevertheless, because of the isolated communist form of government of North Korea and the political friction between the North and the South, it is very difficult to enter the North from the South. If you wish to enter the North, the ideal way is to do it from China.
However, traveling to Gaeseong City and Mountain Geumgang is now possible. In this case, you will be crossing a border and you will need to bring a special travel certificate issued by your travel agency or the Ministry of Unification, instead of your passport.
* After getting your South korean passport time to head to Jeju Island, which is listed no. 5 in the list of Top ten Asian tourist destinations that you must visit.