Understanding Local Laws Before a Trip to Korea
Image by Sava Bobov

Korea is a beautiful place. It’s home to K-Pop, wonderful food, and one of the most advanced cultures in Asia. Last year, roughly 3.2 million foreigners traveled to Korea, proving that it’s still one of the most popular travel destinations in the world.

There are tons of amazing places to see in South Korea, like the amazing ancient temple of Gyeongbokgung, the beautiful seaside village of Busan, and of course the ancient city of Gyeongju-si.

However, there are a few things to take into consideration when traveling to Korea regarding their local laws. This will help to ensure that you’re fully prepared for your trip to Korea and can really enjoy your time there without any sudden surprises.

Wartime Issues

While Korea is one of the safest countries on Earth, it’s important to note that they are still technically at war with North Korea. While no major conflict has broken out there since the 50s, every so often North Korea escalates its provocations. This means that you should be prepared to possibly experience a military drill or two if you travel to the north of the country and happen to experience any of these issues. While it’s largely considered quite rare, it’s still a factor worth taking into account.

Local Gambling Laws

If you’re traveling to Korea to gamble or thinking of gambling while you’re there, there are a few things to take note of. First of all, it’s important to know that gambling is largely prohibited in Korea. South Korea has its own laws regarding gambling, and generally only allows participation in a few gambling activities. This includes betting on horse races, dog races, boat races or purchasing lotto tickets (source: https://www.safebettingsites.com/kr/).

The government has made it clear that they don’t want local people even entering casinos and have outright banned the practice for them. However, there are 18 casinos around Korea that allow foreigners to gamble without any restrictions. They’re pretty luxurious establishments and were allowed to operate to help stimulate tourism.

On the other hand, online gambling is largely prohibited within the country. That doesn’t mean that people don’t do online gambling there, it’s just a largely unregulated market. Most Korean online casinos tend to operate outside of the country and allow access to their platforms for people within Korea. As a visitor, it’s something to be aware of—your favorite betting platforms may be unavailable when you’re in Korea, so consider installing a VPN to access them.

Photo Laws

It’s important to note that Korea places strict penalties on people taking photographs of the wrong things. The first, and most important of these, is taking pictures of any military installations around the country – especially within military zones. You can face fines or even jail time if you take pictures of military installations within the country. So even though it may be tempting, don’t do it!

Secondly, Korea also prohibits the photographing of corporate offices within the country. While the law doesn’t clearly state anything about taking photos of the outside building of a corporate office, it’s definitely not allowed within the office. So if you happen to find yourself within an office setting, keep your phone in your pocket and your camera shuttered and off.

Health Laws

Korea places strict emphasis on wearing masks in hospitals. Individuals not wearing one can be fined up to KRW 100,000 (or around $73) – so be sure to keep one on hand if you enter a hospital for whatever reason. It’s also important to note that in Korea, most hospitals expect you to pay up-front for treatment. Thankfully, it’s relatively cheap, so you don’t have to break the bank for good quality medical treatment.

Also, make sure you don’t consume any illegal drugs while you’re in Korea or even before entering the country. At the border, Korean officials are known to conduct random drug tests and some people have been denied entry into the country for failing one of these tests. Korean officials are very strict when it comes to illegal drugs and individuals caught with possession of these substances can face huge fines, prison times, and sometimes even the death penalty for trying to smuggle drugs into the country. So don’t try it – it’s simply not worth it.

Finally, it’s important to note that the rainy season is from August to September in Korea. Typhoons and heavy storms can happen quite often during this time, so be sure to be prepared for nasty weather if you’re there over these months.


Korea is a beautiful country and one everyone should experience at least once in their life, with Seoul being considered among the top destinations to visit in Asia. Just be sure to take note of the laws before entering and always cooperate with officials while you’re there to ensure a smooth trip. Otherwise, most people shouldn’t have any problems while in Korea. The strict laws ultimately make it a very safe country, so you’ll likely be protected by the law rather than affected by it.