Vehicle registration plates of South Korea

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In South Korea, the Surface Transportation Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (Korea) (MOCT) oversees the design and issue of license plates (Korean: 번호판) for motor vehicles.

Appearance[edit]

Pre-1973[edit]

Few examples of designs prior to 1973 remain in existence; they are no longer valid. The most recent design is similar to the ones that followed, but the positions of some elements are different. These early plates are typically white with blue lettering, a color scheme still used today for motorcycle plates.

1973-2003[edit]

Upon initial inspection, plates issued during this era seem to closely resemble those used in Japan (see Japanese license plates for examples). The plates are approximately the same width and height as North American or Japanese number plates. They measure 335 mm wide by 170 mm high for passenger vehicles, and 440 mm wide by 220 mm high for large trucks and buses. The information is arranged into two lines.

The first line, occupying the upper third of the plate, identifies the province or special city that issued the plate and the vehicle class.

The province/city name is written in full in hangeul, minus the -do (도) or -si (시) suffix. Provinces and cities issuing plates include (in South Korean jamo order):

The vehicle classes are as follows:

The second line, occupying the lower two-thirds of the plate, uniquely identifies the vehicle. It contains a hangeul syllable prefix on the left, and a serial number on the right.

Only a small range of hangeul syllables are valid for each type of vehicle. Some of them identify more specific vehicle types; e.g., heo (허) is only used for rental cars. Some special plates have the hangeul prefix replaced by a circled hangeul word.

  • Diplomat's cars: "diplomat" (외교)
  • Construction vehicles: "commerce" (상품) - These will have the province name/vehicle class replaced by an organization name.
  • National government vehicles: "nation" (국) - These have no province name.
  • Korean military: "army" (육) - These had no province name

Private vehicles used by the US military in Korea had no hangul symbol but instead had a single half-size digit followed by a dash and the four digit number. The digit identified the city where the car was registered. A license plate that read 5-4187, for example, was a US Army car registered in Daegu. Vehicles to be used on the US military base had a white license plate with "US Army" written in English on the top with a six-digit number below.

The serial number is always four digits, 0-9. Leading zeros are included in the serial number.

When installed on a vehicle, the rear plate features an official seal over one of the retaining screws to deter tampering or theft.

These plates are always issued embossed; flat plates are unofficial replicas. Dies varied slightly over time. Starting in 1997, the four-digit serial number was repeated on the plate, spelled out in small stamped hangeul type on the lower left.

Colors[edit]

Registration plate on a commercial dump truck in Seoul
  • Private cars, government cars - green with white; or white with black (some cities)
  • Taxis, cars for hire - yellow with blue
  • Construction vehicles - orange/red with white
  • Diplomat's cars - blue with white

2004-2006[edit]

These plates are similar in appearance to the 1973-2003 series, with some changes to the information presented. The province name is omitted. The prefix on the bottom line is moved to the top line - right of the class number for regular series, and left of the class number for the circled special series (diplomat, construction, etc.). The serial number is printed larger to fill the entire bottom line, but still four digits for most plates, except for special series plates, which have six.

2006-present[edit]

2006 color scheme and dimensions for passenger cars

A new system has been phased in, starting with plates for government vehicles in 2006 and appearing on privately owned vehicles now. The color scheme is now a simple black-on-white design. Dimensions have been slightly altered; the new plates are slightly less tall, only 155 mm. They are also available in a size format similar to the plates used in the European Union, 520 mm wide by 110 mm tall. The numbering follows the pattern of the 2004 plate series, but all on one line. From left to right, the plate has the vehicle class, hangeul prefix, and four-digit serial number. Truck and bus plates remain the same width, but shrink slightly to 200 mm tall, and incorporate all the information into one line.

Construction equipment[edit]

  • Bulldozer : 01
  • Excavator (Poclain) : 02
  • Loader : 03
  • Fork Lift Truck : 04
  • Motor Scraper : 05
  • Dump Truck : 06
  • Crane : 07
  • Motor Grader : 08
  • Road Roller : 09
  • Road Stabilizer : 10
  • Concrete Batching Plant : 11
  • Concrete Finisher : 12
  • Concrete Spreader : 13
  • Concrete Mixer Truck (Ready-Mixed Concrete) : 14
  • Concrete Pump Car : 15
  • Asphalt Mixing Plant : 16
  • Asphalt Finisher : 17
  • Asphalt Spreader : 18
  • Aggregate Spreader : 19
  • Stone Crusher (Crushing Plant) : 20
  • Air Compressor : 21
  • Piercer (Drilling Equipment) : 22
  • Pile Driver : 23
  • Gravel Digging Equipment : 24
  • Dredger : 25
  • Special Construction Equipment : 26
  • Tower Crane : 27

Two-wheeled vehicles (Motorcycles)[edit]

Military vehicles[edit]

License plate of a military vehicle bearing the "army" symbol (육) as seen in 2013

Diplomat vehicles[edit]

License plates for diplomatic vehicles are blue with white lettering. The top of the plate reads 외교 (diplomat) and the plates display a six-digit number divided into two three digit numbers separated by a dash. The first three numbers indicate the country (086, for example, is for cars belonging to the Vietnamese Embassy in Korea), so a typical plate would read 086-001.

External links[edit]