Unofficial Guide for Korean Quarantine
Quarantining in Korea: What to Expect
Currently, all travelers arriving in the Republic of Korea are required to undergo two weeks of quarantine upon arrival. Please use this notice as an unofficial guide regarding what to expect for your quarantine before, during, and expected life after quarantine. Read through to the end to find some helpful tips for making this time more bearable.
Official Data:Click here to read official government information.
Before boarding your flight to Korea, you must have your student visa in your passport. At your home airport, you will be asked a series of questions to determine if you have made arrangements for quarantine and you will be denied access to your flight if your preparations are insufficient.
There are two main options for quarantine: The Government Option and The Other Option.
The Government Option: Quarantine at a government-designated facility (usually a hotel) at your own expense for 14 days. The nightly cost at these facilities could range from $100 to $150 USD per night (totaling around $1,400 - $2,100 USD) depending on various factors, and prices are set by the Korean authorities. Travelers that fall into this category will be asked to sign a release form agreeing to the conditions prior to boarding a plane. Passengers who refuse to sign the form will be denied boarding.
The Other Option: Quarantine at other facilities is possible in a few circumstances. In some cases, Korean authorities have permitted immediate blood relatives to quarantine at their family’s home. In other cases, if the traveler is able to find a caretaker to legally take responsibility for the quarantine, the government will allow quarantine to happen in personal residences or other large facilities (like a dormitory). This type of arrangement must be arranged well in advance, and prior to boarding, these details must be thoroughly explained and approved in order to fly to Korea.
Arrival & Quarantine:
Upon arrival at Incheon International Airport, travelers will be required to download an app used for monitoring and reporting their actions and status during the quarantine. For travelers destined for quarantine in Daegu, they will be transported at their own expense via bus to a nearby train station and ushered to a special “Daegu-bound” quarantine carriage. Upon arrival in Daegu, travelers are guided to a COVID testing facility outside of the station where they will receive their first of two (minimum) COVID tests. For travelers destined for quarantine in other regions, the process may differ.
After the first COVID test, travelers will be moved by government-approved transportation (government taxi or otherwise pre-approved 3rd party transportation) to their quarantine location and they will begin their quarantine. Assuming the COVID test results are negative, the traveler can expect to spend the next two weeks in isolation at this location. If the COVID test results are positive, the traveler will be relocated to a treatment facility.
During quarantine, travelers are required to upload health information daily through the government app. This includes a temperature check and other body conditions such as cough, headache, etc. Furthermore, the government may visit or call your phone at random to check on your quarantine condition. For this, travelers are required to have a Korean phone number. If any breach of quarantine is suspected, the government will follow up and travelers are expected to comply at all times or risk deportation and fines. Caretakers are responsible for keeping the traveler maintained (fed, sheltered and safe) during this time and for no reason is it permissible for the traveler to exit the quarantine area barring an extreme emergency.
To clarify this point, going out for a socially distanced walk is not an option. Going out to quickly smoke a cigarette (in a non-smoking building) is not an option. Quickly swinging by a mart to grab food/snacks/drinks is not allowed. For no reason is the traveler in quarantine allowed to exit the designated quarantine area. If the quarantining person needs something they do not have, it is the responsibility of the legal caretaker to obtain it and safely convey the item(s) to the person quarantining.
In the final days of quarantine, the traveler will receive another COVID test. Assuming the results of this test also come back negative, the traveler will be allowed to leave quarantine and integrate into Korean society at 12:00 noon on the 14th day. Congratulations, you’ve been upgraded from traveler to visitor.
Upon integration into Korean society, visitors will be given the same freedoms and restrictions as the Korean public and other foreign residents. Visitors can expect high levels of contact tracing in the form of signing into buildings and rooms entered. Upon entrance to many places, temperature checks are mandatory. Furthermore, masks are expected to be worn in public and mandatory in public transportation, social distancing is practiced and all members of society are to engage in constant vigilance against the spread of disease. Failure to wear a mask in required areas will result in significant fines.
As infection numbers rise and fall, official requirements will be tightened and loosened in response. Sometimes official restriction levels are raised suddenly and plans are interfered with. This is the reality of the times we live in, and it can be an impingement on visitor’s desires to travel around the country. When this happens, it is the responsibility of the visitor to adhere to the rules and be a part of the continuing effort to stop the spread of COVID around Korea. Inasmuch as these restrictions allow, visitors are free to explore the peninsula.
The main tip, in a nutshell, is to prepare for two weeks of potentially absolute boredom. Bring your devices, your books, and make sure you will have a solid internet connection. Furthermore, plan for your mental and physical health during this time. The lack of social interaction effects people differently, and daily Zoom conversations with friends and family can help people stay sane and engaged. Physical activity may difficult, especially if you are confined to a single room during quarantine. Have a plan for maintaining physical health that involves goals (for example: 100 pushups, 100 sit ups and 100 squats every day).
Do not enter this quarantine without a plan for
getting through it. Typically the first
day or two are the easiest, and then it gets long. Be ready for that long stretch. The difference between being prepared and not
being prepared will be your sanity, and everyone wants you to keep that intact.