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I have been watching the news like a hawk, patiently waiting for my turn to get vaccinated in South Korea! I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling serious FOMO when seeing all my friends proudly display their vaccination cards overseas while it’s been SLOW AF in South Korea. Fair enough, we’ve had some — uh — supply chain issues here, but fortunately, it seems like things are ramping up.

If you want to see what the current status of COVID-19 cases is in South Korea, you can visit the Ministry of Health and Welfare in South Korea. You can also take a look at the press release from the KDCA from July 5th, 2021 which details the vaccination plan for the month of July, the number of vaccinations so far (about 30% of the population has had at least 1 dose), and a summary of outbreaks in Korea.

What are the social distancing guidelines in South Korea?

If you need some clarification regarding the social distancing guidelines, you can skim through the South Korean government’s Overview of the Social Distancing System for full details.

Ministry of Health and Welfare, South Korea

Though the English language Overview of the Social Distancing Guidelines by the Ministry of Health and Welfare is comprehensive, it isn’t actually as up-to-date as the Korean language version of the same website.

I highly recommend taking a look at this step-by-step action plan to see the restrictions based on levels 1-4. I’ve attached a quickly translated — I ran them through Google translate — of the levels below. In the action plan, you can also see a breakdown of what restrictions are placed on facilities including nightclubs, gyms, cafes, and bars.

Level 1Level 2Level 3Level 4

1. Step transition criteria

  • (Population more than 100,000) Less than 519 nationwide, with an average of less than one weekly patient per 100,000 population per day
  • (Population 100,000 or less) Less than 5 weekly total patients in the region

2. Multi-use facility management

  • (Number of people) Maintain a distance of at least 1m or 1 person per 6㎡ of facility area (basic)
  • (Operating hours) No limit on operating hours
  • (Gathering Prohibited) No Gathering Prohibited
  • (Applicable exceptions) Those who have been vaccinated for the first time or more are excluded from the limit of the number of outdoor multi-use facilities, and those who have completed vaccination are excluded from the limit of the number of indoor multi-use facilities.

3. Daily and social and economic activities

  • (Meeting) Private meetings are possible while observing quarantine rules
  • (Event/Assembly) When a large-scale event with more than 500 participants is held, prior notification to the local government is required. Assemblies and demonstrations with more than 500 people are prohibited.
  • (Sports viewing) It is recommended to make a reservation in advance, and eating and drinking in the spectator seats is prohibited, shouting and cheering are prohibited
    – (indoor) 50% of the stadium capacity * Excluding those who have completed vaccinations
    – (outdoor) 70 of the capacity % * Excluding those who received more than 1st inoculation
  • (Religious activities) regular religious activities during occupancy of 50% (offset seat one space), the meeting / event and but meals and accommodation restraint, comply with quarantine rules, and outdoor events possible
    – 1 excess Choir and Praise Team, flexibility prayer ban public goods, books, etc.
    – However, the vaccine recipient (including primary jeopjongja) is normal religious activities during occupancy except for the reference, vaccination completed as consisting only of the choir, small groups eligible
    -care, such as free meals and study rooms, including vulnerable Activities can be operated (free service)
  • (Exhibitions and expositions) Limit 1 person per 4㎡ of facility area, recommend to operate a reservation system in advance, and keep a distance of 2m (minimum 1m) between users * Excluding those who have completed vaccination
  • (School) Observe the basic quarantine rules and return to school
  • (Workplace work) staggered commuting system, lunch time staggered system, voluntary implementation of telecommuting

1. Step transition criteria

  • (Population over 100,000) Over 519 nationwide, with an average of 1 or more patients per 100,000 a day per 100,000 population
  • (Population 100,000 or less) Weekly total number of patients in the region 5 or more

2. Multi-use facility management

  • (Number of people) Limit the number of people to 1 (basic) per 8㎡ of facility
  • (Operating hours) Entertainment facilities, hold’em pubs, hold’em game rooms, colatec, dance studios (group 1 facilities), singing practice rooms, restaurants and cafes* are restricted from operation after 24:00 * Only packaging and delivery are allowed
    – However, taking into account the vaccination rate by local government Therefore, it is possible to voluntarily terminate each local government on the premise that strict observance of quarantine rules such as MOU with relevant associations and organizations
  • (Gathering Prohibited) No Gathering Prohibited
  • (Applicable exceptions) Those who have been vaccinated for the first time or more are excluded from the limit of the number of outdoor multi-use facilities, and those who have completed vaccination are excluded from the limit of the number of indoor multi-use facilities.

3. Daily and social and economic activities

  • (Meetings), up to eight private meetings possible (forbidden 9 or more private meetings)
    – However, with regard to matters under the exemption of private meetings
    ① live if keeping the family care (children and the elderly and the disabled, etc.), dying
    ② Sports Sales Facilities (sports that require a minimum number of people to organize a game)
    * However, it is prohibited to exceed 1.5 times the number of people in each sport (eg, 15 futsal)
    ③ There is no limit on the number of people as an exception is applied for immediate family gatherings. , which allows up to 16-
    ④ immunization completion characters
  • (Events/Assemblies) Prohibition of events and gatherings with more than 100 participants
    * If necessary for essential business activities and public affairs of the company, comply with the basic quarantine rules and allow holding without limiting the number of people (e.g., company regular general shareholders’ meeting, budget/legislation processing) National Assembly meetings, broadcast production and transmission, graduation ceremonies, entrance ceremonies, etc.)
    ** For events, those who have completed vaccination are excluded from the limit of the number of people
  • (Sports viewing) It is recommended to make a reservation in advance, and eating and drinking in the spectator seats is prohibited, shouting and cheering are prohibited
    – (indoor) 30% of the stadium capacity * Excluding those who have completed vaccination
    – (outdoor) 50 of the capacity % * Excluding those who received more than 1st vaccination
  • (Religious activities) During regular religious activities, 30% of the capacity (two spaces between seats), gatherings/events, meals, and accommodations are prohibited, except for outdoor events (less than 100 people)
    – Choir/praise team with more than 1 person, Tongseong Prohibition of use of public items such as prayers, books, etc.
    – However, vaccinated persons (including those who have received primary vaccinations) are excluded from the standard of occupancy during regular religious activities, and choirs and small
    groups composed only of those who have completed vaccinations can be operated – Vulnerable groups such as free meals and study rooms, etc. Care activities available (free volunteer service)
  • (Exhibitions and expositions) Limit 1 person per 6㎡ of facility area, recommend to operate a reservation system in advance, and keep a distance of 2m (minimum 1m) between users * Excluding those who have completed vaccination
  • (School) Fully attending school is possible, but after consultation with the Office of Education considering the infection status, it is possible to attend school with a density of 2/3 or more and 3/4 or more of elementary school 3rd-6th graders
  • (Workplace work) Businesses with 300 or more employees (excluding manufacturing) staggered commuting system, lunch time staggered system, 10% recommended for telecommuting

1. Step transition criteria

  • (Population more than 100,000) Over 1,037 nationally, with an average of 2 or more patients per 100,000 a day per 100,000 people
  • (Population 100,000 or less) Weekly total number of patients in the region 10 or more

2. Multi-use facility management

  • (Number of people) Limit the number of people to 1 (basic) per 8㎡ of facility
  • (Operating Hours) Direct sales promotion center for entertainment facilities, hold’em pubs, hold’em game rooms, collabs, dance halls (1 group), restaurants, cafes, singing (coin) practice areas, bathhouse businesses, swimming pools, door-to-door sales, etc. are restricted from operating after 22:00
    – Instead of removing infection risk factors centered on high-intensity and aerobic exercise that generate a lot of droplet among indoor sports facilities, exceptions to the 22:00 operation limit are applied.
  • (Gathering Prohibited) No Gathering Prohibited
  • (Applicable exceptions) Those who have been vaccinated for the first time or more are excluded from the limit of the number of outdoor multi-use facilities, and those who have completed vaccination are excluded from the limit of the number of indoor multi-use facilities.

3. Daily and social and economic activities

  • (Meeting) Private gatherings of up to 4 people are allowed (private gatherings of more than 5 people are prohibited)
    – However, exceptions to private meetings apply to the following:
    ① Families living together, care (children, senior citizens, disabled people, etc.), guarding the end of life
    ② Sports sales Facilities (sports that require a minimum number of people to organize a game)
    * However, it is prohibited to exceed 1.5 times the number of people per sport (eg 15 futsal)
    ③ For those who have completed vaccination
  • (Events/Assemblies) Prohibition of events and gatherings with more than 50 participants
    * If necessary for corporate business activities and public affairs, the basic quarantine rules must be followed and holding without limiting the number of people is allowed (e.g., corporate general shareholders’ meeting, budget and bill handling) National Assembly meetings, broadcast production and transmission, graduation ceremonies, entrance ceremonies, etc.)
    ** For events, those who have completed vaccination are excluded from the limit of the number of people
  • (Sports viewing) Advance reservation system is recommended, and no food or drink in the spectator seats, no shouting or cheering
    – (indoor) 20% of the stadium capacity * Excluding those who have been vaccinated
    – (outdoor) 30 of the capacity % * Excluding those who received more than 1st inoculation
  • (Religious activities) During regular religious activities, 20% of the capacity (three seats spaced), gatherings/events, meals, and lodging are prohibited, except for outdoor events (less than 50 people)
    – Choir/praise team with more than 1 person, Tongseong Prohibition of use of public items such as prayers, books, etc.
    – However, vaccinated persons (including those who have received primary vaccinations) are excluded from the standard of occupancy during regular religious activities, and choirs and small
    groups composed only of those who have completed vaccinations can be operated – Vulnerable groups such as free meals and study rooms, etc. Care activities available (free volunteer service)
  • (Exhibitions/expositions) Limit 1 person per 6㎡ of facility area, recommend to operate a reservation system in advance, and maintain a distance of 2m (minimum 1m) between users * Excluding those who have completed vaccination
  • (School) density within 1/3~2/3 (2/3 in high school)
  • (Workplace work) Businesses with 50 or more employees (excluding manufacturing) staggered commuting system, lunch time staggered system, 20% telecommuting recommended

1. Step transition criteria

  • (population over 100,000) Over 2,074 nationwide with an average of 4 or more patients per 100,000 a day per 100,000 population
  • (Population 100,000 or less) Weekly total number of patients in the region 20 or more

2. Multi-use facility management

  • (Number of people) Limit the number of people to 1 (basic) per 8㎡ of facility
  • (Operating hours) Restriction of operation after 22:00 for groups 1 to 3 of multi-use facilities
  • (Gathering prohibited) Only clubs (including nights), hunting pochas, and emotional bars are prohibited from gathering
  • (Applicable exceptions) Those who have been vaccinated for the first time or more are excluded from the limit of the number of outdoor multi-use facilities, and those who have completed vaccination are excluded from the limit of the number of indoor multi-use facilities.

3. Daily and social and economic activities

  • (Meeting) Private gatherings of up to 2 people after 18:00 (Private gatherings of more than 3 people are prohibited)
    ※ Private gatherings of up to 4 people are possible before 18:00, same as the 3rd step measures
    – However, the following exceptions apply to private gatherings
    ① Family living together, care (children, elderly, disabled, etc.), and dying of death
    ② Sports business facilities (sports that require a minimum number of people to organize a game)
    * However, 1.5 times the number of players per sport (e.g. 15 futsal) Prohibited
    ③ For those who have completed vaccination
  • (Events/Assemblies) Prohibition of events and gatherings other than single-person demonstrations
    * When necessary for corporate business activities and public affairs, the basic quarantine rules are observed and the event is permitted without limiting the number of people (e.g., company regular general shareholders’ meeting, budget/legislative processing, etc.) for National Assembly meetings, broadcast production and transmission, graduation ceremony, entrance ceremony, etc.)
  • (Sports watching) Matches without spectators
  • (Religious activities) Only non-face-to-face religious activities are allowed, meetings/events, meals, and lodging are prohibited
    .
  • (Exhibitions/expositions) Limit 1 person per 6㎡ of facility area, recommend to operate a reservation system in advance, and maintain a distance of 2m (minimum 1m) between users * Excluding those who have completed vaccination
  • (School) Conversion to distance learning
  • (Workplace work) Recommend staggered commuting, lunchtime staggered, and telecommuting 30% for workplaces excluding manufacturing

Source: Ministry of Health and Welfare, Korea

What’s happening with social distancing in July 2021?

The South Korean government initially planned to ease up on restrictions at the beginning of July, but the government stepped back due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in South Korea. The newly relaxed rules were pushed back for another week to July 7th, 2021 and a decision will be announced later this week. It seems like we may be seeing even more restrictions — there’s some talk about raising us to Level 4 — as cases are surging due to cluster infections and the Delta variant.

The relaxed rules would have allowed meetings of up to 6 people in the greater Seoul area, and the evening curfew for entertainment facilities, restaurants, and cafes would have been pushed to midnight from 10 p.m. Wearing masks outdoors were supposed to become voluntary for those vaccinated with at least 1 dose in South Korea, beginning July 1st. But yeah, our daily COVID-19 cases are at a 6-month high, so I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon (or at least until the general public starts getting vaccinated.)

Instead, on July 4th, 2021, the government announced that people will still have to keep their masks on indoors/outdoors regardless of vaccination status, and drinking in parks or by the river will be prohibited after 10 p.m. You can read more at this JoongAng article, “[속보]백신 맞아도 마스크 써야한다…수도권 방역조치 강화”.

As of July 18th, 2021, Kyunghyang News reported in the article, “비수도권 전역 ‘5인 이상 모임 금지’…강릉, 거리 두기 4단계로”, “Gangneung, Gangwon-do, is the first non-metropolitan area to apply the 4th level of social distancing. […] Gimhae and Geoje-si and Haman-gun in Gyeongsangnam-do are currently implementing the third [level]. Jeju and Gangneung, where the number of tourists soared during the holiday season, will apply Level 3 and Level 4, respectively, from the 19th [of July.]” So, besides Seoul, Gyeonggi-do, and Incheon, the rest of the country will also increase restrictions on private gatherings. There’s now a 5-person ban in the entire country. No more than four (4) people can gather at once, and the number decreases to 2 after 6 p.m in Level 4 areas.

What does Level 4 restrictions look like in South Korea?

On July 9th, the Seoul government announced that it will most likely move to Level 4 social distancing on Monday, July 12th, 2021. You can read more about this in Maeil News article, “정부, 내일 오전 수도권 거리두기 4단계 격상 발표?”

It’s hard to keep track of the restrictions, especially since they are constantly changing throughout the year. After businesses complained last year about having to shut down during the pandemic, suffering great losses, the government revised their social distancing guidelines to permit many businesses to operate and instead, to instill a curfew. Unfortunately, nightlife operations are pretty much a no-go during this time.

Updated Level 4 Restrictions (7/12/2021):

  • Up to 4 people can gather before 6 p.m. and only 2 people after 6 p.m. 
  • All gatherings and events other than one-person demonstrations are prohibited. 
  • Most multi-use facilities such as private academies, gyms, PC rooms, restaurants/cafes, karaoke rooms, public baths, and movie theaters/performance halls can stay open, but they must close before 10 p.m.
  • Clubs, hunting pochas, and bars are also not allowed to open. 
  • Only relatives are allowed to attend weddings and funerals.
  • Religious events in the metropolitan area cannot meet face-to-face.
  • Visits to nursing homes and facilities are prohibited.
  • Telecommuting is recommended for most businesses.

One of the more amusing restrictions in South Korea is related to fitness activities, detailed in “‘벼랑 끝’에 선 K-방역…거리두기 4단계의 모든 것”, “GX-type exercises such as group dance, spinning, aerobics, hot yoga, gymnastics class, and jumping rope must maintain the music speed at 100-120 bpm. In the case of fitness, the speed of the treadmill must be less than 6 km/h, and the shower room cannot be used. […] This measure is to prevent the splashing of droplets (saliva) and sweat during intense exercise that causes shortness of breath.” So, no running on treadmills and no fast-paced music in fear of actually sweating at the gym.

Easing Restrictions in South Korea After the Population Is Vaccinated

Ideally, this is what things will look like in the future for South Korea once the population is mostly vaccinated and cases are under control. According to the chart below, in Stage 3, the mask mandate is lifted for indoor settings starting in December, but we’ll have to wait and see how things go!

Guidelines for the adjustment of disease control and prevention measures following vaccination, provided by the Seoul Government
Guidelines for the adjustment of disease control and prevention measures following vaccination, provided by the Seoul Government

COVID Vaccine Q&A in South Korea

When am I getting vaccinated?

The Vaccination Plan, provided by the Seoul Government

The general public in their 50s will be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) from July 26th at the earliest.

Those who fall in the 18-49 age group will be eligible for vaccinations from mid-August. Currently, the 18-49 age group will be eligible on a first-come, first-serve basis which the news has reported could be problematic as people will rush all at once to get vaccinations, however, the government is reportedly making a plan to find a solution.

READ MORE: “50대 이르면 7월 26일부터 예방접종…18~49세 8월에 백신 맞는다(종합)”, “응시 수수료 내고 화이자나 맞자”…9월 모평, 허수 응시자 ‘봇물’?”, “18~49세, 대상자 구분않고 신속하고 짧게 접종 진행”, “50대 26일부터 모더나 백신 맞는다”, “[오늘의 경제정책 브리핑] 사회필수인력 백신 접종 시작”.

July Vaccination Schedule Graphic via Yonhap News Agency

The following “soft” dates were compiled from various Korean news sources and are subject to change.

Update (07/15/2021): Due to supply issues again in July 2021, vaccines were delayed for at least a week. You can read more about this in this eDaily article, “‘백신 예약 중단 사태’, 원인은 7월 마지막 주 모더나 공급차질” (‘Vaccine reservation interruption’, the cause is the supply disruption of Moderna in the last week of July). Those in their 50’s were expected to be done with vaccinations by August 21st, 2021, and it will be pushed back to August 25th, 2021. Hopefully, without further delay.

50s Innoculation Schedule via eDaily (July 14, 2021)

July Schedule

July 5th – July 17th: Those aged 60 to 74 years old*, essential workers under the age of 30 years old (police, fire, and marine police)

* Those aged 60 to 74 who made a reservation in advance but had their reservation canceled due to health reasons, a mistake at the medical institution, or had to postpone or change the reservation, will receive the vaccination from July 26th – July 31st.

July 12th: People who are expected to enlist in the Korean military, including conscripts, recruits, and non-commissioned officers

July 19th-30th: High school seniors (university test-takers) and high school staff

July 13 – August 7th: Childcare workers, teachers* at daycare centers, kindergartens, elementary, middle, and high schools over 30 years old. Advance reservations are from midnight on July 8th to 6 p.m. on the 10th, and a text message will be sent to those who have made a reservation.

* Since hagwons are private businesses, they will most likely be excluded from the July plan which includes teachers, but most hagwon employees will be eligible in August with the rest of us. Some hagwon employees, however, have reported that they were included locally in Seoul and metropolitan areas in the July vaccination plan due to recent outbreaks. Please contact your employer for more information.

Delivery drivers for Coupang Eats, Baedol Minjok, etc in the Seoul area will also receive priority vaccinations starting on the 13th.

July 26th – August 21: People in their 50s will be vaccinated at the tail end of July, beginning on the 26th of July to mid-August. The advance reservation date varies based on your age. Advance reservations are available from July 12 for 55-59 years old (1962-1966), and 50-54 years old (1967-1971) from July 19th.

August Schedule

More details regarding the August inoculation schedule will be announced, probably on August 1st, 2021 in the monthly COVID-19 briefing.

Beginning of August: They will be inoculating those in their 50s and college test takers from the end of July and the beginning of August through the 25th.

End of August: 18-49 years old people will be eligible starting late August. The government will release a more detailed plan to organize the vaccination reservations for those 18-49, so they won’t overwhelm reservation systems and clinics.

Those under 18 years old were excluded from the vaccination plan in the third quarter, pending announcement. There is discussion whether or not those under the age of 18 will get the vaccine. You can read more in this article from Yonhap News Agency, “학생 백신접종 확대되나…교육부, 초6∼고2 학생·학부모 설문”.

SIDE NOTE: There is no differentiation between foreigners and Koreans when it comes to vaccinations. Most people will be eligible for the vaccine based on occupation and/or age.

Are we allowed to choose which vaccine we can get in Korea?

No, the government announced that we cannot choose which vaccine will be administered, however, there are some no-show vaccines available currently — mostly, AstraZeneca and J&J — that are available via reservation on Naver Map and Kakao Map.

Currently, four types of vaccines are being used at the vaccination sites: AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, and Janssen (J&J). From what I’ve heard, most of the vaccinations administered in the third quarter, after June, will be Moderna, Pfizer, and potentially Novavax. “Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is scheduled to be produced in Korea, may also be considered. The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has not yet received a license application from the manufacturer,” according to this Newsis article.

The big news released from the government on July 1st, 2021 was that those under the age of 50 will not be receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine due to blood clot risks. This also means that for those under 50 that are waiting for their second AstraZeneca dose, they will be switched to Pfizer. You can read more about this in this KBS News article, “AZ 백신 접종 연령 50세 이상으로 상향…30~40대 접종자는 화이자로 교차접종”.

How do I book a no-show vaccine in South Korea?

Regarding, “no show” vaccines … They’re really difficult to snag — rumors are that some people are actually using bots to acquire them in less than a second — and at this point in the game, I’m personally totally fine with waiting until the end of August for the 18-49 eligibility to open up since we’re more likely to get Pfizer and Moderna then. There’s also a 28-day wait between doses for Moderna and Pfizer versus a 12-week wait with AstraZeneca.

Pfizer residual vaccines (no show) will also start appearing as early as today, July 5th, 2021, according to this article, “하반기 접종 본격화…AZ백신 1차접종자 대상 화이자 교차접종 시작”, from Yonhap News Agency.

Tips and Tricks for Getting a Leftover Vaccine

According to an article from DongA News, “‘아침부터 광클’ ‘0.5초만에 소진’…화이자 잔여백신 쟁탈전”, many people who were able to get a leftover vaccine on Kakao or Naver cited that they had the stalked clinics and just hit refresh for hours rather than wait for the notification. 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. seems to be the time when leftover vaccines start to roll out, and they’re usually gone in less than 0.5 seconds — I can attest to this as I’ve been trying to hunt down a Pfizer vaccine for days now! If you got a notification, it’s usually too late.

We’re now all competing with feisty 20-year olds for these leftover vaccine appointments, unlike the previous AstraZeneca vaccine appointments that were restricted to 30+-year-olds, so the competition is fierce.

‘Do not rely on the alarm function, and press the update button frequently while zooming in on the residual vaccine map.’ […] ‘The hospital closes at 6 pm, so it usually happens little by little from 4 pm’

“[앵커리포트] 잔여백신 ‘광클’ 대신 ‘매크로’…처벌 가능성은?”, YTN

There are more tips and tricks in this Chosun article, “‘나는 언제쯤?’ 치열한 잔여 백신 예약하는 팁.” Mainly, (1) forget about remaining vaccine notifications, (2) afternoon is better than morning, and (3) move the map and check the residual vaccines tab.

More Information on Leftover Vaccines

If you’re making your no-show reservation on Naver, “[출처] [네이버] 코로나19 잔여백신 예약 공지 및 FAQ|작성자 네이버 회원” (Covid-19 Residual Vaccine Reservation Notice and FAQ) from the official Naver Blog is also available to read in English if you use Google Translate plugin on the Chrome browser.

Also, if you were able to make a no-show appointment for AstraZeneca earlier this year, the government has decided to mix doses — meaning, you’ll be getting an mRNA vaccine like Pfizer — for your second dose if you’re under 50 years old. There’s been a lot of buzz on the news internationally that it’s probably a good thing to mix the doses for better protection against COVID-19.

This Korean Herald article, “Real-time search and booking of ‘no-show’ vaccines to launch Thursday”, gives you a brief overview of the system on Naver and Kakao. You can also read the article, “[KH Explains] How to get yourself a COVID-19 vaccine earlier than scheduled”. It’s tricky though. The vaccine reservation system is in Korean, and they no longer allow calling the clinic directly to make an appointment for a no-show vaccine.

What Happens When You Actually Get a Leftover Vaccine

There’s a great post on Every Expat in Korea (a public Facebook group) about one person’s detailed experience booking a no-show vaccine in South Korea.

Detailed Facebook post about a resident’s experience booking a no-show vaccine in South Korea, posted on the public group, Every Expat in Korea

What will the vaccination certificate look like in South Korea?

You will be issued a paper certificate, a sticker, and you will be able to register an electronic certificate on the blockchain-based COOV app (Android, Apple.) More language support is coming for the app by the end of the year, including Spanish and Chinese. You can read more about how to use the app on the COOV website.

How to Use the COOV App

If you want to obtain a paper certificate online, you can use the KDCA Website or the Government 24 website. The paper certificates can also be issued in English, so you can use them for proof of vaccination abroad.

In order to get the sticker, you can visit a local community center with your resident registration card or driver’s license to attach the sticker to. You can read more about the stickers in this Donga article, “7월 1일부터 ‘코로나 백신 스티커’ 이렇게 받으세요.”

As of July 12th, 2021, you will also be able to link your vaccination status to apps like KakaoTalk, Naver, Toss, and Pass. This is definitely a strong signal that businesses will be checking our vaccination status in the future upon entering just as we have to use a QR code when entering cafes, bars, and restaurants now.

You can read more about this in the Yonhap News Agency article, “예방접종자-사업자, 12일부터 QR코드로 백신접종여부 확인(종합)” (Vaccinators-businesses, check whether or not vaccinated by QR code from the 12th (comprehensive)), and the Chosun Biz article, “통신 3사·카카오·네이버, 12일부터 코로나19 백신 접종 인증” (Three telecommunication companies, Kakao, and Naver to receive COVID-19 vaccination certification from the 12th.)

Vaccination Status as a QR code on KakaoTalk via Yonhap News Agency

How do I sign up for a vaccine once I’m eligible?

You’re going to have to sign up on the KDCA website to make an appointment.

The FKCCI wrote about how to make a vaccine appointment in South Korea once you’re eligible.

MORE READING: You can read more about the vaccination process in South Korea in this KBS article, “백신 접종 놓치지 않으려면?”

Quarantine in Korea FAQ

Do I have to quarantine in Korea if I’m fully vaccinated?

Whether or not you have to quarantine right now mainly depends on where you were vaccinated. If you were vaccinated overseas, you will probably have to quarantine. If you were fully vaccinated in South Korea, you probably won’t have to quarantine.

However, there are some recent exceptions to quarantining in South Korea if you’ve been vaccinated overseas. It was instated mostly to reunite family members and really only applies to special cases. There are potential travel bubbles, but more about that later.

You can self-monitor and skip quarantine in South Korea when fully vaccinated overseas if you are able to prove (1) family relations*, (2) important executive-level business, (3) important diplomatic reasons, and (4) humanitarian reasons.

Quarantine Exemption Guidelines from the Embassy of Korea in the USA

For (1) family relations, you must be able to prove that you have a parent, children, grandparent, or spouse currently in South Korea. This does NOT include siblings, cousins, or aunts. This also applies to foreigners.

For (4) humanitarian reasons, you would have to prove that you are attending the funeral of lineal descendants or ascendants like parents, children, spouse, etc. The same rules apply from (1) family relations.

So, if you’ve been vaccinated overseas and trying to come to South Korea for tourist purposes, it’s probably a no-go. For full information about quarantine exemption, you can read “Quarantine Exemption requirement & procedural guideline for individuals that were vaccinated overseas(Applicants departing on July 1st or later only).”

If you have been vaccinated in South Korea (full 2 doses), you are able to mostly skip quarantine and self-monitor for 14 days instead. You still, however, have to take multiple COVID-19 tests. For full details on quarantine requirements for those that finished their full vaccination in South Korea, you can read “New Entry/Quarantine Procedures for Individuals who Completed COVID-19 Vaccination in Korea.”

What’s going on with the travel bubbles?

The government decided to allow travel bubbles between select countries like Saipan, Guam, Singapore, and Thailand if you’re traveling on a monitored group tour. Travel agencies will handle details like verifying vaccination certificates, approval, routes, and will be liable for monitoring the travelers. You can read more information about this in the Korean Herald article, “트래블버블 무슨 뜻?…’정해진 여행 외 다른 일정은 불허’”

As of June 30th, 2021, the only country that has officially signed is Saipan, and the travel bubble between Korea and Saipan will be in effect in late July or August. Travelers will have to take four COVID-19 tests, paid for by the government. Upon returning to Korea, there will be no quarantine and travelers will have to self-monitor instead. You can read more about the travel bubble between Saipan and Korea in this Yonhap News Agency article, “S. Korea signs ‘travel bubble’ accord with Saipan for vaccinated tourists” and the Korea JoongAng article, “Saipan ‘travel bubble’ readied for inoculated Koreans.”

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