|Republic of Korea passport|
|Issued by||Ministry of Foreign Affairs|
21 December 2021 (current version)
|Eligibility||Citizens of South Korea|
|Expiration||10 years (18 years old and older)|
|Cost||KRW 50,000 (26 pages)|
KRW 53,000 (58 pages)
The Republic of Korea passport (Korean: 대한민국 여권; Hanja: 大韓民國 旅券; RR: Daehan Minguk yeogwon), commonly referred to as the South Korean passport, is issued to a South Korean citizen to facilitate their international travel. Like any other passport, South Korean passports serve as proof for passport holders' personal information, such as nationality and date of birth. South Korean passports are issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and have been printed by the Korea Minting and Security Printing Corporation (KOMSCO) since 1973. On 21 December 2021, issuing the next generation biometric passports to South Korean citizens has begun, which was delayed by one year as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
|Type||Multiple/Single||Validity||Number of Pages||Cost|
|Biometric||Multiple||10 Years (18 or above)||58||KRW 53,000|
|5 Years (under 18)||58||KRW 45,000
(KRW 33,000 for under 8)
(KRW 30,000 for under 8)
|Below 5 Years||26||KRW 15,000|
|Single||Below 1 Year||14||KRW 20,000|
|Non-Biometric||Single||Below 1 Year||14||KRW 53,000|
South Korean ordinary passports are dark blue, with the National Emblem of the Republic of Korea emblazoned in gold in the top right of the front cover. The words '대한민국 여권' (Korean) and 'REPUBLIC OF KOREA PASSPORT' (English) are inscribed below the Emblem, whereas the international e-passport symbol () is inscribed on the bottom right of the front cover. Lastly, the Taegeuk mark with dotted circles is embossed on the left side of the front cover.
In North Korea, the Korean word for 'passport' is spelled '려권' (ryeogwon), whereas in South Korea, the same word is written as '여권' (yeogwon).
The message inside South Korean passports are written in both Korean and English. The message in the passport, nominally from the South Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs, states:
The textual portions of passports are printed in both English and Korean.
The South Korean government has been issuing biometric passports since February 2008 for diplomats and government officials, and for the general population since 24 August 2008.
The South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs formed the "Committee for Promoting e-Passports" in April 2006, which scheduled to issue biometric passports during the second half of 2008. On 4 September 2007, media reports indicated that the South Korean government had decided to revise its passport law to issue biometric passports which included fingerprint information: First to diplomats during the first quarter of 2008, and to the general public during the second half of the year. Some civil groups have protested the fingerprinting requirement as excessive as the ICAO only requires a photograph to be recorded on the biometric chip.
On 26 February 2008, the South Korean legislature passed a revision of the passport law. A new biometric passport was issued to diplomats in March, and to the general public shortly thereafter. Fingerprinting measures would not be implemented immediately; however, they began on 1 January 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 identification 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 the passport number (from the third page to the back cover), latent image, microprinting, security thread, solvent sensitive ink, and steganography.
Inside the first page, a caution for the biometric chip is written both in Korean,
"주의 – 이 여권에는 민감한 전자 칩이 내장되어 있습니다. 여권을 접거나 구멍을 뚫거나 극한 환경(온도,습도)에 노출하면 여권이 손상될 수 있으니 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 back cover has also been moved to the last page of the new passport.
From 21 December 2021, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues a new biometric passport. The passport has been redesigned entirely with improvements in security. The identification page is made of polycarbonate in order to make it harder to forge. The colour of the cover of the ordinary passport has changed from green to navy blue. The bearer's personal ID number (Resident registration number of South Korea) is removed from the passport for greater security. The new passport was originally intended to be issued from June 2020 for diplomatic and official passports holders and December 2020 for those holding an ordinary passport. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of traveling citizens declined resulting in the delay of the new passport's introduction until late 2021 or whenever the current passport booklet stock is depleted. Diplomatic and officials passports are issued as planned.
As of January 2009, the 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.
Main article: Visa requirements for South Korean citizens
Visa requirements for South Korean citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of Republic of Korea. As of 19 September 2022, South Korean citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 192 countries and territories, ranking the South Korean passport second in the world in terms of travel freedom (tied with the Singaporean passport, and one ranking down from the Japanese passport) according to the Henley Passport Index. Additionally, Arton Capital's Passport Index currently rank the South Korean passport third in the world in terms of travel freedom, with a visa-free score of 165 (tied with Danish, Dutch, French, Finnish, Italian, Luxembourgish, Norwegian, Singaporean, Spanish, Swedish and United States passports), as of 15 January 2019.
As of October 2018, the passports of South Korea, Brunei and Chile are the only ones to provide visa-free access to all G8 countries.
The South Korean (Republic of Korea) constitution considers North Korea (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 third country, i.e. non-Korean, territory.
However, because of the political situation between the South and the isolated socialist Juche 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 serve 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 South Korean passport. The Republic of Korea passport can be used to enter North Korea, because passport is one of the government's approved identity documents, but it is being only to prove the bearer's identity, not to determine the bearer's legal residence. South Koreans can also use other government approved identity documents such as National ID Card and Driver's License, because the South Korean government treats North Korea as part of South Korea and expects South Korean IDs to be accepted.
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. However, in 2018, Kim Jong-un and others went to South Korea through the DMZ and met up with South Korean officials. They discussed reunification.
There are four land border checkpoints in South Korea for inter-Korea travel.
The South Korean government has banned Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen as travel destinations for safety reasons. Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, South Koreans are banned from travelling to that country as well.
A Korean Empire travel passport issued in 1905.
A machine-readable Republic of Korea passport issued in 1994.
A machine-readable, non-biometric Republic of Korea passport issued in 2005.
A biometric Republic of Korea passport issued between 25 August 2008 and 20 December 2021.
Specimen of the identity information page of Republic of Korea biometric passport issued until 20 December 2021.
A current version of the biometric Republic of Korea passport issued from 21 December 2021.
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