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Useful Information

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Seoul is a fast-moving modern metropolis and one of the largest cities in the world. Home to over 10 million citizens, it is a friendly city that is easy to get around. Here are some tips to make your trip to Seoul more convenient and comfortable.

General Facts

Facts on Seoul table
Population Seoul 10,195,000 (2013 est.) Seoul city government
South Korea 50,948,000 (2013 est.) CIA Factbook
(About one-fifth of South Korea's population resides in Seoul)
Size 30.3 km from north to south and 36.78 from east to west
Temperatures +22C to +30C (August), -7C to +1C (January)
Time Zone GMT + 9
(Korea Standard Time KST or Japanese Standard Time JST)
Electricity 220v, 60 hz throughout the country (same type used in France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Turkey)
Country
Dialing Code
+82
Area Code Seoul 02 (when dialing from overseas remove the zero)
Religion 25% Buddhist, 25% Christian
Language Korean (English, Japanese and Chinese are also spoken)

Safety and Security

Seoul is a remarkably safe city. The crime rate is very low compared to other major cities around the world. For emergencies call 112 (local police), 119 (fire department), 120 (Seoul’s Dasan call center) or 1330 (a nationwide call center of the KTO that can connect you to emergency services).

National Holidays

Koreans officially follow the Gregorian calendar, although some holidays are based on the lunar calendar. During national holidays, offices and banks are closed but palaces, museums, most restaurants, department stores, and tourism facilities are usually open.

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National Holidays table
New Year's Day January 1
Lunar New Year's Day (Seollal)* (Jan.~Feb.) First day of 1st month
(Lunar Calendar)
Independence Movement Day March 1
Buddha's Birthday* (May) Eighth day of 4th month
(Lunar Calendar)
Children's Day May 5
Memorial Day June 6
Liberation Day August 15
Korean Thanksgiving Day
(Chuseok)*
Fifteenth day of 8th month (Lunar Calendar)
National Foundation Day October 3
Christmas December 25

Lunar calendar dates change from year to year.

Cellular Phone Rental

Cellular phones can be rented from Incheon and Gimpo International Airports. Your passport and credit card are required. The charges can be paid with cash or credit card upon return of the handset.

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Three companies offer rental services: SK telecom, Korea Telecom, and LG Telecom. Call the Incheon Airport for more information: +82-2-6343-9011 (overseas) or 1599-2011. (in Korea),

  • Note: Some global telecom companies can extend phone access though roaming services in Korea, but many phones DO NOT have roaming services in Korea at this time. Roaming services can be expensive. Please check with your local cell phone company about services and costs.

Medical Services

In Seoul, there are many modern hospitals equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. Korea is known for its high-quality medical services without long waiting periods in the event of an emergency or sickness. Many major hospitals offer multilingual interpretation services. Contact your hotel or call 120, 1330 (general information) or 1339 (medical line) for more information.

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Medical Services Medical Services Medical Services
The 1339 Emergency and Non-Emergency Medical Services for Foreigners

In the event of an emergency (or non-emergency) situation, a variety of medical services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

  • Information on international medical centers, services and hospitals.
  • General consultation on first aid and advice in emergency situations
  • Contact for ambulance and medical services
  • Information on hospitals for non-emergency patients
  • Other useful non-emergency medical information
  • Information in English, Japanese, and Chinese
International Health Care Centers in Seoul

Larger Korean hospitals generally operate an international health care center or medical clinics for English and non-Korean speaking patients. Their multilingual medical staff and volunteers can help you receive affordable and quality medical care.

  • International Medical Center at Yonsei Sinchon Severance Hospital +82-2-2228-5800
  • International Health Care Center at Seoul National University Hospital +82-2-2072-0505
  • International Health Care Center at Seoul St. Mary's Hospital +82-2-2258-5745

Important Numbers

Important Numbers
Seoul Global Center

+82-2-2075-4180 (overseas) or 02-2075-4180 (in Korea)
Monday to Friday from 9-6 pm - Call to ask any questions about visiting or living in Seoul.

Korea Tourism Organization Information Line

+82 2 1330 or 1330
24 hours a day - Tourism information and translation services.

Seoul’s Dasan 120 Call Center

+82 2 120 or 120, 9am to 10pm daily

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medicalmedical
Volunteer Interpretation Service BBB
(Before Babel Brigade)

1588-5644
Free 24 hour telephone interpretation services.

Seoul Emergency Medical Information Center

1339
general medical information also available

Police Services

112 direct line to the Seoul Metropolitan Police

Fire Department

119 direct line to the Seoul Fire Department

International Emergency Rescue

+82-2-790-7561
24-hour emergency rescue services with multilingual support.

H1N1 Information

+82-2-1577-7129 or 1577-7129 (24 hours)

Directory Service

114 (English services available)

Tourist Complaint Center

+82-2-735-0101

Lost and Found Center

Seoul Metropolitan Police Bureau. 102, Hongik-dong, Seongdong-gu or +82-2-2299-1282 (Korean only) or call the Seoul Global Center +82-2-2075-4180

Business, Money and Banking

Currency

Korea's official monetary unit is the South Korean Won (KRW or ₩). The currency consists of notes and coins.

General Business Hours
Business hours table
Government Offices 9am to 6pm (Mon to Fri), Closed on weekend
Banks 9am to 4pm (Mon to Fri), Closed on weekends
Restaurants & Retail Stores Commonly open 11am to around 9pm (in some cases, open until 2 to 3am)
Major Convenience Stores GS25, Family Mart, and 7-11 (24 hours, 7 days a week)
Currency Exchanging Money

You can exchange foreign currencies into Korean won at a bank, exchange service center, or an authorized currency exchange.

Exchanging Money table
Banks 9:30am-4pm
(closed Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays)
Exchange Service Centers 9:30am-10pm (every day)
Authorized Currency Exchanges Hotel Business hours or 24 hours in hotels

Currency Exchange Rate: 1 USD = 1,100 KRW (as of November 2010)

Major Banking Institutions Traveler's Checks

Traveler's checks can be used in place of cash at hotels, department stores, and some restaurants and shops, but it is better to exchange them into cash for simpler transactions. Visa, American Express, and Thomas Cook traveler’s checks are readily accepted in Korea.

Credit Cards

Visa, American Express, Diners Club, Master Card and other major credit cards are accepted in Korea. Cash advances are also available at select bank machines.

ATMs and Cash Machines

Cards with the Plus and Cirrus logos are the easiest to use and most widely accepted in Korea. Some ATMs accept most major international bank cards, such as Maestro, Citibank, Citicard, Electron, JCB and others. Most ATM/bank machines operate 24 hours a day, while others are open from 8am to midnight.