The new year will see the launch in June of an electronic travel authorization (ETA) system for foreign visitors, and Gwanghwamun Square in downtown Seoul will reopen in October with a brand-new look.
Below are several changes in Korea to look forward to in 2021, especially for expats and those planning to visit.
The ETA system will apply to people from 112 countries -- 66 with bilateral visa-waiver agreements and 46 with visa-free entry status. When planning a trip to Korea, visitors from these countries need to apply for an ETA from the official website or the mobile app 72 hours before boarding their flights. The processing fee is KRW 10,000.
The ETA is valid for two years, meaning those revisiting the country over that period need not reapply or pay again for this permit. They are also exempt from filling out an arrival card.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, foreign visitors on short-term stays of under 90 days must provide their passport information at their accommodations. This rule took effect on Dec. 10 last year and remains in place this year as well.
Besides, from Jan. 1, the government will change the name "Alien Registration Card" for the ID of an expat to "Residence Card."
In downtown Seoul, Gwanghwamun Square will be reopened in October with a whole new look. The road west of the square in front of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts will become a pedestrian zone. In April, Sejong Dae-ro Forest Road will open for eventual connection with the square, connecting the 2-km stretch between the square and Seoul Station.