Republic of Korea passport

Republic of Korea passport
대한민국 여권

The front cover of a contemporary Republic of Korea biometric passport.
Issued by  South Korea
Type of document Passport
Purpose Identification
Eligibility requirements South Korean citizenship
Expiration 1 year (Single-Use)
5 years (For those under 18)
10 years (For 18 or above males who have completed military service or 18 or above females)
Varies (18 year-old or above males who haven't completed military service get passports expire on their 24th birthday year)

Republic of Korea passports (Korean: 대한민국 여권) are issued to citizens of South Korea to facilitate international travel. Like any other passports, they serve as proof for passport holders' personal information, such as nationality and date of birth. South Korean passports also indicate the holder's resident registration number, unless the holder does not have one. Republic of Korea passports are issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and printed by Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation (KOMSCO) since 1973.[1]

In 2016, South Korean citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 172 countries and territories, ranking South Korean passport 6th in the world in terms of travel freedom according to the Visa Restrictions Index.

The passports of South Korea and Chile are worldwide the only ones to provide visa-free access to all G8 countries.

Cover of a machine-readable Republic of Korea passport.


Ordinary passports are issued for one, five, or ten years of validity.

Physical appearance

South Korean passports are dark green, with the National Emblem of the Republic of Korea emblazoned in gold in the center of the front cover. The word '대한민국' (Korean) and 'REPUBLIC OF KOREA' (English) are inscribed above the Emblem whereas '여권' (Korean), 'PASSPORT' (English) and the international e-passport symbol () are inscribed below the Emblem.

Identity Information Page

Passport note

The note inside Republic of Korea passports are written in both Korean and English. The message in the passport, written by the South Korea's Minister of Foreign Affairs, states:

In Korean:

대한민국 국민인 이 여권 소지인이 아무 지장 없이 통행할 수 있도록 하여 주시고 필요한 모든 편의 및 보호를 베풀어 주실 것을 관계자 여러분께 요청합니다.[Note 1]

In English:

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea hereby requests all those whom it may concern to permit the bearer, a national of the Republic of Korea, to pass freely without delay or hindrance and, in case of need, to afford him(her) every possible assistance and protection.


The textual portions of passports is printed in both English and Korean.

Visa free travel

Visa requirements for South Korean citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of Republic of Korea. In 2016, South Korean citizens have visa-free or visa on arrival access to 172 countries and territories, ranking the South Korean passport 6th in the world according to the Visa Restrictions Index.

Inter-Korea travel

The Republic of Korea's constitution considers the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as part of its territory, although under a different administration. In other words, the South does not view going to and from the North as breaking the continuity of a person's stay, as long as the traveler does not land on a third territory.

However, because of the political situation between the South and the isolated communist government of North Korea, it is almost impossible to enter the North from the South across the Korean DMZ (exiting South Korea via the northern border). Tourists wishing to enter North Korea have to pass through another country, and most enter from China, because most flights to/from Pyongyang serves Beijing.

South Koreans are generally not allowed to visit North Korea, except with special authorizations granted by the Ministry of Unification and North Korean authorities on a limited basis (e.g. workers and businessmen visiting or commuting to/from Kaesong Industrial Complex). South Koreans who are allowed to visit North Korea are issued a North Korean visa on a separate sheet of paper, not in the Republic of Korea passport. The Republic of Korea passport cannot be used to enter North Korea.

In 1998, visa-free travel to the tourist resort of Mount Kumgang and the Kaesong Industrial Region was made possible under the "sunshine policy" orchestrated by South Korean President Kim Dae-jung. Those wishing to travel across the DMZ were given special travel certificates issued by the Ministry of Unification through Hyundai Asan. In July 2008, a female tourist named Park Wang-ja was shot to death by a North Korean guard on a beach near Mount Kumgang, which led to the suspension of the tours. As of March 2010 all travel across the DMZ has now been suspended due to increasing tensions between North and South Korea.

There are 4 land border checkpoints in South Korea for inter-Korea travel.

Biometric Passport

The Korean government has been issuing biometric passports since February 2008 for diplomats and government officials. They have been issuing this type of passports to all of their citizens since August 25, 2008.

Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs formed the 'Committee for promoting e-passports' in April 2006, and it will be scheduled to issue biometric passports in the second half of 2008. On September 4, 2007, the media reported that the Korean government decided to revise its passport law to issue biometric passports which include fingerprint information, first to the diplomats in the first quarter of 2008, and the rest of the public in the second half of the year. Some civil liberties have caused some controversy over the fingerprinting requirement because the ICAO only requires a photograph be recorded on the chip.

On February 26, 2008, the Korean National Assembly passed the revision of passport law. A new biometric passport was issued to diplomats in March, and to the general public shortly thereafter. Fingerprinting measures will not be implemented immediately; however, they began January 1, 2010.

The appearance of the new biometric passports is almost identical to the former machine-readable versions, and they both have 48 pages. However, the space for visas was reduced by six pages. These pages are now reserved for identication purposes, notices and other information, as well as the bearer's contacts. In the new biometric passports, the main identification page has moved to the second page from inside the front cover. The note from the Foreign Affairs Minister is still shown on the front page and the signature is shown on the page after photo identification.

The new biometric passport incorporates many security features such as colour shifting ink, hologram, ghost image, infrared ink, intaglio, laser perforation of passport number (from the third page to the back cover), latent image, microprinting, security thread, solvent sensitive ink, and steganography.[1]

Inside the backcover, a caution for the biometric chip is written both in Korean,

"주의 – 이 여권에는 민감한 전자칩이 내장되어 있습니다. 접거나 구멍을 뚫는 행위 또는 극한 환경(온도,습도)에의 노출로 여권이 손상될 수 있으니 취급에 주의하여 주시기 바랍니다."

and in English,

"This passport contains sensitive electronics, For best performance please do not bend, perforate or expose to extreme temperatures or excess moisture."

The passport holders' contact information that was originally held inside the backcover has also been moved to the last page of the new passport.


As of January 2009, Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation takes eight hours to produce the new biometric passport and is capable of producing 26,500 passports per day.[1]

Restricted nations

Wikinews has related news: 19 South Koreans return home after release from Taliban captivity

The South Korean government has banned Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen as travel destinations for safety.[7][8]

See also


  1. In Korean mixed script: 大韓民國 國民인 이 旅券 所持人이 아무 支障 없이 通行할 수 있도록 하여 주시고 必要한 모든 便宜 및 保護를 베풀어 주실 것을 關係者 여러분께 要請합니다.


  1. 1 2 3
  3. "Biodata page". European Communitie.
  4. "Biodata page". European Communities.
  5. "국어기본법". Korean Ministry of Government Legislation.
  6. Ryang, Sonya; Lie, John (2009), Diaspora without homeland: being Korean in Japan, University of California Press, p. 11, ISBN 978-0-520-09863-3
  7. S. Korea extends travel ban on four nations, Yonhap News, July 23, 2013
  8. S. Korea imposes travel ban on violence-ravaged Libya, Yonhap News, July 30, 2014
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