There’s not long to go until this winter’s big sporting event in South Korea and it’s time to think about the health and safety of all those travelling to get a taste of the action; whether that’s you, your employees or your customers.
South Korea will be hosting this winter’s big sporting event between February 9th and 25th
2,500 athletes will compete, with more than 500,000 tickets sold so far.
South Korea is expected to deploy more than 5,000 security staff, to use metal detectors and x-ray scanners at all major venues and to have a heavy police presence in both PyeongChang and Seoul (the major international transport hub for the event).
Potential terror threats will be monitored, and the event will (reportedly) be protected against cyber threats. Additional security measures, such as no-fly zones and increased maritime patrols, are also likely.
Just follow our top ten tips:
1. Remember travel insurance
Whether you’re organising a client entertainment package, or just travelling to South Korea with a few employees or friends, make sure everyone in your party has travel insurance that covers (at the very least) lost personal possessions, medical costs and repatriation. An emergency medical repatriation from South Korea could cost tens of thousands of pounds without insurance.
2. Check passports are valid for at least 3 months
British passport holders can enter South Korea as tourists for up to 90 days without a visa, just as long as they have a return or onward ticket. But passports need to be valid for at least 3 months after arriving.
3. Set the security scene
There aren’t any known terror threats at the moment, but be aware that PyeongChang could be seen as a potential target by North Korean agents or international terrorist groups. Recent attempts to improve inter-Korean relations reduce the likelihood of North Korean provocation (especially as North Korea is participating), but inflammatory action from North Korea, such as a missile or nuclear test, can’t be ruled out. North Korean leaders are preoccupied with regime survival and unlikely to take action that would trigger a major military response from South Korea and the US.
4. Know the risks
Both health and security risks can change quickly and it’s important to be aware of the latest updates from local and international media and from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/south-korea.
Check out our INtrinsic travel safe guide too: http://bit.ly/2n7ZIca. And remember to find out as much as possible about the area in which you’re staying, for instance the no-go spots, essential shops like pharmacies and phone numbers for local emergency services. Remember too that some of the sporting venues are remote.
5. Be on the ball
Crime rates in South Korea are low compared to other industrialised countries, and armed attacks are rare. But you may still come across petty theft, sexual assaults and scams such as fake hotel websites and over-priced taxis. You can mitigate risks by keeping bags zipped up, leaving valuables locked up and hiding jewellery, cash and tech. Stick to reputable hotel-booking sites and metered taxis. And be especially careful around transport hubs, popular tourist spots and cash dispensers. Avoid walking around alone at night too.
6. Take the right health precautions
Check with your health provider before you go that you’ve had the right vaccinations to protect yourself. Hepatitis A and Typhoid are normally recommended for South Korea, but you should also be up-to-date with routine vaccinations such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and polio.
Once you’ve arrived, guard against food and water-borne diseases by being scrupulous about hand-washing, drinking bottled water and sticking to piping hot, cooked food. Keep warm (winter temperatures can be as low -20°C). And bear in mind that rabies can be spread by animal bites or scratches - so stay well away from animals that you don’t know.
7. Get medications checked
If you need to take essential medications with you, check with the South Korean Embassy that they are allowed, before you set off. Among those restricted or prohibited are ephedrine, norephedrine, pseudoephedrine, ergotamine, ergometrine, and narcotics.
8. Expect delays
Be prepared for extra identification and baggage checks at Incheon International (ICN) and Gimpo International (GMP) airports, both before and after the event. The same goes for delays on major roads and public transport in Metropolitan Seoul, and on routes from Seoul to event venues.
9. Avoid causing offence
Bear in mind that business dress is strictly formal: generally dark suits for men and modest dresses for women, especially for morning meetings. Avoid all physical contact with anyone you don’t know well (it can be seen as a personal violation) or eye contact with older people. And don’t blow your nose or make a loud noise at the table.
10. Watch out for air pollution
Year-round air pollution, including yellow dust pollution, is common in South Korea. If affected, stay inside as much as possible, close the windows and drink plenty of water, especially if you suffer from respiratory problems.