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Planning to study in South Korea? Here’s what students should know

study in south korea
Unlike China and Japan, South Korea has bucked the trend by remaining open to foreign students. If you're thinking about studying in South Korea, here's what you should know. Source: Ed Jones/AFP

While countries such as China and Japan have closed their borders to international students amid the pandemic, South Korea is bucking the trend. It has remained open to foreign students.

Before you hatch a plan to study in South Korea, however, there is some important information to know before flying into the country. Below are some general guidelines to keep in mind. 

Do note that with the pandemic still raging abroad, details could change with little notice, so always check with relevant government websites for the latest information, or direct your questions to your nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate.

Quarantinee

At the time of writing, most arriving travellers must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon their arrival. Travellers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result issued within 72 hours of their departure.

The fall semester starts in September, so students who plan to study in South Korea must consider the 14 days of self-quarantine when deciding on their arrival date in the country. From July 1, 2021, those fully vaccinated abroad can apply for quarantine exemption after they enter South Korea. 

Son Young-rae, an official with the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, was quoted saying by Reuters last month that the new policy will apply only to certain people, such as citizens and foreign residents, as well as those coming to visit family, or for the purpose of business, academics or public interest.

Exempt travellers will need to fill out an application, and get tested before and after arriving in South Korea. Those from countries with major outbreaks or variants will not be allowed to skip the quarantine, he added.

Travellers could face imprisonment, a 10 million South Korean Won fine or deportation for not complying with the quarantine guidelines. Students should also check with their respective universities for details on COVID-19 guidelines.

There are many reasons to study in South Korea, and its top-quality universities are among them. Source: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP

Approved vaccines

South Korea approves the following vaccines for use: Moderna, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

Eligibility for free COVID-19 testing

A COVID-19 Safety and Quarantine Guidelines for International Students notice on Study in Korea, a website run by the Korean government, notes that regardless of your immigration status or nationality, if you meet the criteria for individuals requiring COVID-19 testing specified below, you may be eligible to receive a free COVID-19 test:

Suspected patients

An individual who develops clinical symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days after contact with a confirmed patient.

Symptomatic persons requiring testing 

  • Individuals suspected of having COVID-19 based on the opinion of a doctor regarding their clinical symptoms 
  • Individuals who exhibit clinical symptoms of COVID-19 within 14 days after returning to South Korea from overseas travel 
  • Individuals recognised as requiring testing for being epidemiologically linked to a case of mass transmission in Korea

The cost of treatment and quarantine for COVID-19 could be free for those who have contracted COVID-19 in South Korea. This policy will remain in place until further notice.  

Find out the location of nearby screening clinics by calling the KDCA Call Center (24 hours) at 1339. Those who require interpretation services can call the Immigration Contact Centre of the Ministry of Justice (1345), the Tourist Information Centre (1330), or the Foreign Workers’ Consultation Centre of the Ministry of Employment and Labor (1577-0071).

Online resources for students who plan to study in South Korea

Here are some useful websites for those who plan to study in South Korea: