Is it safe to travel to South Korea? Travel update for host of Winter Olympics 2018 | Travel News | Travel

2 months ago
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South Korea will be hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics this year between February 9 and February 25.

Taking place in Pyeongchang, it is just 50 miles from the DMZ which separates the country from North Korea.

The two countries have recently hit a turning point after North Korea opened a phone hotline to South Korea to discuss having a team in the Olympics, the first time in two years since it was disabled by Kim Jong-un.

Nearly 140,000 British tourists travel to the country every year but is it still safe to travel to South Korea?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FC0) has warned of the high tensions in the country due to the missile tests in North Korea, and their close proximity.

It warns: “The level of tension on the Korean peninsula remains high due to a series of nuclear and missile tests by the DPRK (North Korea), including two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July 2017 and 1 in November 2017, two nuclear tests in 2016 and a nuclear test on 3 September 2017. 

“There remains a threat of further missile or nuclear tests, which could lead to further instability in the region. 

“The level of tension and the security situation can change with little notice.”

South Korea also holds emergency drills on occasion, with sirens warning citizens to find shelter, something which foreigners don’t need to follow but should follow directions from the authorities.

Anyone looking to travel to the country can find flights for under £400 return and a visa isn’t needed for up to 90 days of travelling within the country.

Whilst the threat from North Korea causes concern, South Korea is deemed relatively safe itself with low levels of crime and attacks.

The recent tensions between Donald Trump and North Korea with the threat of nuclear missiles have harmed the countries efforts to promote the Winter Olympics with low ticket sales reported.

The country has even offered free tickets to the Winter Olympics for foreign travellers who use Instagram, who enter a competition.

Gian-Franco Kasper, a member of the International Olympic Committee told French publication FrancsJeux that the current threat has put people off travelling there.

Translated from French by Inside The Games, he explained: “I will tell you the truth: I do not expect too many spectators at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games. 

“The current political crisis in the region does not encourage Europeans to travel to South Korea.”