April 13, 2024

Travelers from around the world have long been fascinated by South Korea’s outsized pop culture influence, paradisiacal islands, and stylish, high-tech metropolises. Now, in a K-fan dream come true, international remote workers can live and work in the East Asian hub for up to two years thanks to a new digital nomad visa.

South Korea’s “workation visa” was officially launched by the country’s Ministry of Justice on January 1, and is currently operating on a trial basis. The visa lasts for one year and may be renewed for an additional year following its expiration, according to the Korean Culture and Information Service. Previously, most tourists were limited to 90 day stays.

Here’s how it works. In order to be eligible for South Korea’s new digital nomad visa, you must be a remote worker employed by a foreign company, making at least double South Korea’s gross national income per capita from the previous year. For 2023, that figure calculated out to about 85 million won, or approximately $64,000. Applicants must have worked in their current industry for at least one year and provide proof of health insurance, as well as a clean criminal record (meaning no previous conviction of any crime). Accepted applicants may be accompanied in South Korea by their spouse and children under the age of 18, with no additional visas required.

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South Korea is aiming to attract 20 million foreign tourists in 2024, and the digital nomad visa is meant to be a step in the right direction.

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Eligible remote workers can apply for the visa at a South Korean consular office in a foreign country or from within South Korea, according to consulting firm KPMG, which provides immigration and tax services for digital nomads. The company suggests applicants bring the following documents to their visa appointment: a completed visa application form (available at your nearest consult or embassy; applications vary), a valid passport and one passport-sized photo, a certificate of employment, proof of fulfilling the minimum income requirement (such as pay stubs or tax returns), a criminal record certificate (apostille required), a health insurance certificate with coverage of at least KRW 100 million, and, if the applicant wishes to be accompanied by family members, documents to prove familial relationship.

Dozens of countries, including popular travel destinations like Japan, Portugal, Costa Rica, Greece, and Spain have launched digital nomad visas in recent years in order to make long-term stays more attainable for the world’s growing workforce of remote employees.

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South Korea has also announced it will be launching a K-culture training visa, tapping into the pop culture phenomenon known as the “Korean Wave.” Also called “Hallyu,” the trend refers to the rising popularity of South Korean culture around the world—from K-pop and K-dramas to K-beauty. While specifics of the visa have yet to be released, the immigration program would connect young enthusiasts with the nation’s booming entertainment industry through education and training opportunities, Skift reports.

Both visas support South Korea’s goal to attract 20 million foreign tourists in 2024, a target recently set by the Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Yu In Chon. “The preferences of international tourists have changed and solo travel has grown more popular,” Chon said in a November news release, adding that the government is planning “all-out efforts to unearth and spread differentiated tourism content to allow foreign tourists to visit Korea and enjoy K-Culture.”

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