I've been hearing conflicting views. The government assures everyone that it's okay but the locals don't seem to trust the government, at least in this issue. Does anybody know any conclusive reference that states that the drinking water in Seoul is potable?

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    My moms parents live in seoul, and my mom was born and raised there. She went to visit a while back and got sick from drinking the water. She was hospitalized for 2 weeks.. I don't care what anyone says, I WILL not drink it.
    – user19121
    Aug 8, 2014 at 3:55
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    This is just personal experience but I just spent a week in Seoul drinking the tap water primarily and I have had no issues.
    – nukeguy
    Apr 28, 2017 at 15:05
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    @user19121: Which disease specifically were they diagnosed with that was traced to tapwater? Jul 29, 2019 at 9:41

1 Answer 1


Historically Seoul has had a number of issues with drinking water. Most recently the issue wasn't the water itself, but the pipes that delivered it, which many people claimed introduced contaminates. I can still remember being told by someone I was working with there about 10 years ago that the water was safe to drink in my hotel, but not in their office block located a few blocks away - I'm still not sure exactly how he came to that conclusion!

Over recent years the local government-run water supplier has made significant efforts to replace all of the "old" pipes, and has taken additional measures around treatment of water.

The water is considered safe and drinkable under UN criteria, and although many locals still do not trust it, there's little doubt that it's as safe as tap water in any other major first-world city.

There's numerous more information available on The Office of Waterworks, Seoul Metropolitan Government website.

Note that all of the above comments relate to the water in Seoul. If you're heading outside of the main metropolitan area then things could be very different and I would suggest only drinking bottled water in those areas.

  • I'm at the Dongdaemun area. I seem to be inside the "safe area". Thanks a lot :) Will be waiting for other answers for a while if you don't mind.
    – R.K.
    Jun 2, 2012 at 6:55
  • Link is now broken, I tried to find the correct link but my Korean skills are non-existent. Aug 8, 2014 at 4:20
  • @AdityaSomani No need to know Korean; just follow the "English" link :).
    – choster
    Aug 8, 2014 at 21:03
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    Followup question: What about Busan? Are its drinking water standards as good as Seoul's?
    – nukeguy
    Mar 31, 2017 at 19:43

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