Any foreign visitors wishing to enter the Republic of Korea must have a valid passport and obtain a Korean visa before coming. However, people of 118 countries who want to visit Korea temporarily are permitted to enter without a visa according to Visa Waiver Agreements (PDF), or in accordance with principles reciprocity of national interest (Table).
[PDF] Countries under Visa Waiver Agreements (as of Feb 16, 2017)
Nationals of visa waiver countries can enter Korea without a visa as long as the purpose of their visit is tourism or temporary visit. If they want to engage in profitable activities such as employment, they must apply for a Korean visa suitable for their purpose.
[Table] Countries of Regions under principles of reciprocity and national interest
Considering international convention, mutuality doctrine, national profit and other such factors, certain countries are granted visa-free entry permissions. (1 March 2017. Currently, 48 countries). Nationals of the following countries are allowed up to 30 days of visa-free sojourn for tourism or visitation.
||Macao(90 days), Brunei, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Japan (90 days), Qatar, Taiwan(90 days), Hong Kong (90 days), Kuwait(90 days), Bahrain[10 countries]
||United States(90 days), Canada (6 months) [2 countries]
||Guyana, Argentina, Ecuador(90),Paraguay, Honduras [5 countries]
||Monaco, Vatican, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Cyprus, San Marino, Serbia(90), Montenegro, Slovenia (90 days), Andorra, Croatia(90) [11 countries]
||Guam, Nauru, New Caledonia, Micronesia, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Fiji, Australia (90 days), Marshall Islands, Palau, Tuvalu, Tonga [13 countries]
||South Africa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Swaziland, Egypt (5 Countries)