Drinking Water In Korea & Seoul

Clean drinking water is vital to our life and that is not different when on holiday in Seoul or the rest of the country. Korea is known for being an advanced and clean country when it comes to bathrooms, hotels, touristic sights, stores and more. This article provides basic information about drinking water in Korea.

water in korea

Things To Know About Visiting Korea

  • Tipping: Korea is generally a no tipping country. Except for taxi drivers and tour guides, tipping is not done. In traditional or older restaurants, this might even offend the owners.
  • Travel Adapters: For visitors from US, UK, South East Asia and Japan, bringing a travel adapter is vital. The Korean power outlet is the same as the mainland European one.
  • Itineraries: Use these sample Korea itineraries to plan the perfect trip to South Korea.
  • Travel Insurance: Getting the right travel insurance is major when going on holiday to South Korea. Don’t let accidents ruin your holiday. Check more info here.

Water In Korea

When traveling in South Korea, there are 2 options when it comes to drinking water. First is tap water and secondly bottled water. Listed below is all the info you need to know about drinking water in Korea.

1. Tap Water In Korea

Can you drink the water in South Korea? YES. The tap water in South Korea is drinkable. The water infrastructure across the country is reliable and purification processes are well maintained. The tap water in South Korea is of good quality and won’t upset the stomach.

korea water purifier

The government has been making it their priority to replace old pipeline across Seoul and the rest of Korea. In Seoul, 95% of all old water pipes have been replaced and the remaining 5% will be replaced by 2020. In 2003, Korea ranked 8th United Nations world wide water quality report and the quality of the water has only been improving since then. Consider bringing a reusable bottle when coming to South Korea.

Note: if you are staying in an accommodation that is rather old, it is possible when opening the tap, slightly brown coloured water comes out the first 5 seconds. This is due to the old pipes in the accommodation, if this is the case, it is recommended to drink bottled water. Modern and new hotels should not have this issue.

1.1 Tap Water In Seoul

In Seoul, the Office of Waterworks, also known as Arisu (recognized by the UN), monitors the quality of the water 24 hours a day. During the day it conducts regular water quality inspections in relation to 147 indicators at 5 water intake points. If you are interested to learn more about the purification process, Arisu has its own Waterworks Museum, where visitors can learn more about the history and development of clean water in Korea. More info here.

2. Bottled Water In Korea

Koreans swear by bottled water or have a purified water system in their homes. There is a general belief that bottled or additionally purified water is healthier than tap water. Multiple public campaigns have been held to promote drinking tap water, but to no avail. The bottled water industry is huge and is looking to make about 1 trillion won by 2020.

In any super market, you’ll see more than 20 different water brands which can range from 500 won to 2000 won a bottle. The most popular brand is Jeju Samdasoo, this is the only volcanic bedrock water in South Korea.

drinking water in korea

The cheapest brands are Bongpyeong Spring Water and Blue from E-mart. These bottles go for about 470 won per 2 liter. Many different water brands get water from the same source, and sell the ‘same’ water under different prices and labels.

Note: consider bringing a reusable bottle instead of buying bottled water. As with bottled water comes a lot of plastic waste. If you don’t want to drink tap water, you can refill your reusable bottle at a water purifier machine which can be found at any museum, restaurant and public building.

3. Purified Water

Most Korean families have a purifying machine at home which purifies the tap water. In most public buildings like museums, restaurants, government building you’ll find a machine like this. If you see one of these, feel free to fill up your bottle.

Note: in many restaurants getting water is self service. If you see a filtered water machine with cups next to it, it’s very likely that you have to get your own water.

Best Travel Water Bottles

When visiting South Korea, consider bringing a reusable travel water bottle. These can be filled at the tap or at any purifier machine which can be found in any public space. Listed below are the best travel bottles to bring.

1. Stainless Steel Bottles

Opting for a stainless steel bottle is a great choice, not only is it healthier, it also keeps your water cold. These bottles are pretty lightweight and indestructible.

2. Collapsible Water Bottles

Want to safe space in your bag? Consider getting a collapsible bottle. Most of the bottles are made out of plastic, but are extremely lightweight and the perfect option when packing light when coming to Korea.

3. Water Purifier Bottles

Still not sure about the quality of the water in Korea? Consider getting a water purifier bottle. Most of these bottles come with a filter that needs to be replaced once in a while. This is the more expensive water bottle, but you’ll be sure the water you’re drinking is safe. For South Korea, a water bottle like this might be a bit overkill, but if you are on an Asia trip and visiting neighbouring countries, this might be worth it.

Note: when going camping or hiking in Korea, it might be worth bringing a purifier bottle. In the mountains you’ll often come across a spring and you’ll see many local people drinking from the spring. If you want to drink from the spring, make sure to use your purifier bottle.

Water In Korean

The word for water in Korean is 물 (mul). The pronounciation of the ending of the word is the same as in the English word ‘full’. If you want to ask for water in a restaurant you have to say 물 주세요 (mul juseyo).

Do you have any questions about drinking water in Korea? Have you tried the different bottled water? Are there any things to add to this article? Let me know in the comment section below.

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