Living in Seoul as an expat during the Coronavirus crisis

While I usually try to keep this website fun and light-hearted, it’s hard to ignore the current situation on the Korean peninsula. As the Coronavirus continues to sweep through the country, I’ve received multiple messages asking about the situation on the ground, and what will happen next.

To see the streets of Seoul during the Corona emergency, watch my video on YouTube.

What does the Coronavirus look like in Seoul?

Resources (in Korea)

Ministry of Health and Welfare Novel Coronavirus (English page)

KCDC Call Center (1339) – Open 24/7/365; toll-free if dialed within Korea



Q: How many people in South Korea have Coronavirus?

A: The number is constantly changing. Currently, cases of new reports, recoveries, and deaths are posted twice a day. At the time of writing, Korea has over 1100 cases and 12 deaths.

For the most accurate number, check out as they update frequently. They offer information in Korean, Chinese, and English.

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

A: Symptoms may be confused with the flu. Symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath
Standing in front of Gyeonbuk Palace in Seoul, South Korea
Standing in front of Gyeonbuk Palace in Seoul, South Korea

Q: What can I do to prevent catching the Coronavirus?

A: While you may not be able to prevent catching the virus, you can certainly minimize the risk.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap in running water for 30 seconds or longer (think “Happy Birthday” song 2x)
  • If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Wear a mask when visiting highly crowded places, especially medical institutions, public transportation, or anywhere there are large groups of people.
  • Be sure to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands.
  • Avoid contact with anyone that has a cough, fever, or other symptoms.
  • Eat fully cooked food.
  • Avoid touching raw meat or visit markets that sell animals.
  • Avoid touching sick animals.
  • Avoid touching door handles, elevator buttons, handrails, etc. If you are unable to avoid this, be sure to immediately wash your hands.
  • Get enough rest, vitamins, and exercise. Try to avoid stress.
Those choosing to go out in public are sure to wear a mask to protect themselves against catching the Coronavirus in South Korea.
Those choosing to go out in public are sure to wear a mask to protect themselves against catching the Coronavirus in South Korea.

Q: I have planned a trip to South Korea. Is it safe to go?

A: As this is an on-going situation, you will need to gauge the risks and decide for yourself. Be sure to check visa restrictions, airline restrictions, and travel bulletins set forth by your local government.

Do know, that at the time of writing, that many museums, libraries and other tourist sites are closed. If you choose to visit Seoul (or Korea) at this time, do expect that things will be different, and you may have certain restrictions that hamper your time in the country.

Q: Should I be scared?

A: As it stands, there is no need to panic. Life in Korea continues to go on. While you should definitely take precautions, there is no need to let the fear of coronavirus take over your life. The death rate seems to be low. If you are at high-risk, then take extra care. The amount of cases is increasing, and it will continue to spread throughout the world.

I’d recommend stocking up on N95 masks and avoiding crowds. Wash your hands often (or use hand sanitizer if needed). A little common sense goes a long way!


At the time of writing, Seoul has (luckily) only had a few dozen instances of the virus. The main cluster has been in Daegu- a city in the South East of Korea.

To see what it is like Daegu, check out this video by ‘Teaching in Korea with Korean Ollie

I will update this post as time goes on and we receive more information. To stay up to date, be sure to join the mailing list below. Check back for more information, or reach out at


I am not a doctor, nor a health professional. The views in this article are from my point of view only and do not reflect those of Korea or the United States. All information is subject to change, and is only an observation on the date this article was written.

*This post contains affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission if you choose to purchase an item through these links. This comes at no extra charge to you!

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