Coming to Korea on a Working Holiday visa

If you’re 18-30, you might want to think about the WHV option


To date, South Korea has a working holiday visa scheme set up with 12 countries –  Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the USA.  A limited number of visas are available for Irish citizens.

The working holiday visa is valid for 12 months unless you’re from the US, in which case you get 18 months to play.

The WHV is a great option for your time in Korea.  It’s less restricted there than in many countries (or at least differently so).  Basically, you can do what you want so long as you meet the following rules:

  • You are not allowed to teach English (though I am not sure this is policed as carefully as the Immigration Department might like).
  • You are not allowed to engage in any Adult Entertainment business.  You know what that means.
  • You are not allowed to engage in jobs that require a specific licence or skill, (such as medicine, law etc, so that pretty much destroys your dreams of becoming a leading South Korean brain surgeon).
  • You are not allowed to engage in journalism, religion, academic research or instruction of engineering-related technical skills.
  • You must have no dependent children.

To get a visa, you will need:

  • To be aged between 18 – 30.
  • To present an original bank statement issued in the last 3 months with sufficient funds (though the bar is not set that high – about $2000, I believe)
  • To schedule and plan the first part of your trip (“I will live in Seoul and learn Korean at Lexis…..)
  • A criminal background check, appropriately stamped and certified
  • A round trip ticket (though I’ve never heard of this being checked)
  • Medical insurance to cover you for your stay in Korea.

You have to apply for your Working Holiday visa in the Korean embassy in your home country.  You cannot apply for the visa in Korea or a third country, and you must visit the embassy in person.

What you CAN do is study, work and travel with very little in the way of restrictions.  It’s a great way to come to Korea and keep your options open.

Hint:  Are you from Hong Kong?  There are only 200 visas issued each year, starting January 1st.  Be at the embassy when it opens!