Driving license in South Korea

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South Korean driver's license (anonymized), 2013.

Driving licenses in the Republic of Korea may be attained at age 18 for cars and 16 for motorcycles.[1][2]

Type of license[edit]

Classes Categories Description Minimum age
Level 1 Large vehicles Passenger car, bus, truck, emergency vehicle, construction machine (dump truck, asphalt distributor, road stabilizer, concrete mixer truck, concrete pump, truck with boring machine), special vehicle (except for trailer, tow truck), moped (and motorcycle with engine displacement of 125 cc or less) 19
General Passenger car, bus with seating capacity of 15 or less, emergency vehicle with seating capacity of 12 or less (only passenger car and bus), truck with maximum loading capacity of less 12 tons, moped (and motorcycle with engine displacement of 125 cc or less), construction machine (only forklift with maximum loading capacity of less 3 tons) 18
Special Trailer, tow truck 19
Level 2 General Passenger car, bus with seating capacity of 10 or less, truck with maximum loading capacity of 4 tons or less, moped (and motorcycle with engine displacement of 125 cc or less) 18
Small Any motor-equipped bicycle or motorcycle 18
Moped Moped (and motorcycle with engine displacement of 125 cc or less) 16

Classified in a separate category that is not licensed, but the body can be operated in accordance with state and driving aptitude to limit the conditions under which the vehicle can be fitted. From July 1, 1995, based on a driver's license began, [3] from 24 July 2001 written in the Roman alphabet began. [4] In this case, the characters have a driver's license mechanism is as follows: (Road Traffic Enforcement Rules asterisk 20) [5]

The birthdate and year is printed in the first row of numbers, surrounded by 0 in the month/date/year format.

  • A: The automatic transmission vehicles (Normal-or healthy- person can acquire class 2 license with A/T only. However, in the case of handicapped person, he or she can acquire class 1 license with A/T.)
  • B: Prosthetic
  • C: Prosthesis
  • D: Hearing Aids
  • E: Deaf cover and a convex mirror
  • F: manual brake, accelerator
  • G: specially designed and approved car
  • H: Right direction indicator
  • I: Left accelerator
  • J: Multi-gear bike motor (or motor tricycle gear bike)

Procedure to acquire[edit]

For more information, please see this site: KOROAD Driver's license examination office.


To acquire Driver's license in South Korea, applicant must apply to Driver's license examination office. It requires authentic ID card and 4 color photos (If applicant does not have proper color photos, he or she can take 4 photos for application for KRW 7,000-8,000 at Driver's license examination office.). Applicant may choose between Level 1 (General) or Level 2 (General; A/T if needed) if no license is belonged.

After then, Applicant must take traffic safety education at Driver's license examination office for 1 hour. After completion, health checking is required, usually for visual acuity inspection. To qualify for driver's license, Applicant must have a visual acuity of 0.8 or higher for both side of eyes if Level 1 (General). If Level 2 license, Applicant must have a visual acuity of 0.5 or higher for both side of eyes (If one side is blind, the other side must be 0.6 or higher).

If applicant fails to qualify visual acuity limit, He or she cannot progress further. However, if this weakness is cured, he or she may can apply again, then take a step for written exam.

Application fee is KRW 7,500.

Written Exam[edit]

To take written exam, applicant must apply it in Driver's license examination office.

Written exam for driver's license in South Korea is the first step. Test-taker must get 70 or higher score out of 100 in Lv. 1 (General). If Lv. 2, then test-taker must get 60 or higher score out of 100.

During written exam, test-taker takes 40 questions, and the test is taken by using PC. After solving all questions, applicant can end this test, then know the result immediately after.

Written exam's application fee is usually KRW 7,500 for Lv. 1 and Lv. 2 General, and KRW 5,000 for Motorized vehicle license.

Driving Course test[edit]

Driving Course test is the second step for driver's license, and it was heavily revised on December 22, 2016.

Usually, there are two ways to take driving course test. One is taking at National Driver's license examination office, and the other is taking at driving academy(the authorized driving-exclusive academy by Korean Police Administration). Examination fee is KRW 18,500 at the examination office. At the driving academy, the price varies.

To take this test as student in driving academy, Student must take driving course class for 4 hour before taking. As a student, he or she learns how to handle the car, climb through slope, deal with intersection and angle parking, and how to accelerate properly.

The course length is around 300 meters, and the time limit is usually 10 minutes. and the minimum score to pass is 80 out of 100.

The failing criteria are here: If taker has one of these following, taker will be disqualified. If fail, the applicant must wait for 3 days to reapply the test and take it again.

  • can not start the vehicle within 30 seconds of the start without any particular reason for the delay
  • when can not perform any one of the following courses: slope, gear-change, and angle park
  • when not moving from an intersection for over 30 seconds without any particular reason for the delay
  • when can not start from a slanted road situation within 30 seconds or when the front bumper deviates from the designated lane during backing from a slanted road situation
  • failure to put on the seat belt from the start to the end of the test
  • cause a traffic accident or ignoring the instructions of the evaluator

Probationary license[edit]

After passing driving course test, he or she can receive probationary license. Valid duration is 1 year, and he or she must pass on-road driving test to acquire full license. If it expires, the probationary license of him or her is automatically disbanded, and applicant must pass written test and driving course test all over again.

On-Road Driving test[edit]

On-Road driving test is the final step to qualify for driver's license.

The receipt for processing is KRW 25,000 at the examination office. At driving academy, the price varies. In this test, applicant must drive the course over 5 km, and maintain the score 70 or higher at the end of the exam.

To take this test as student in driving academy, student must take 6-hour education for on-road driving test within 3 months after receiving probationary license. During the education, student can learn how to deal with emergency situations on road, to recognize the timing to take action, to change the route, and to follow the traffic law.

During the test, a tablet PC with navigation program will lead applicant to follow proper road(course) by informing the direction, the signal, and such with voice. At the start, Score begins with 100 points. If deficit is detected through automated scoring computer or supervisor, a portion of score will be deducted. The deduction amount is various, among -5, -7 or -10. If the score becomes below 70 (<70), the taker will be disqualified at that point.

If disqualified, applicant can apply the test again after 3 days. If the taker has one of these following failing criteria, the taker is immediately disqualified:

  • Critical shortage of driving ability (Engine failure, Sudden brake, Sudden manipulation and starting more than 3 times)
  • Cause a traffic accident or a situation that about to a traffic accident.
  • Drinking or using cell phones, or disobedience of supervisor's instruction to check one's driving ability.
  • Violation of signal or instruction
  • Violation of the protection of pedestrians.
  • Violation of speed limit in the zone of children, elderly or disabled people protection.
  • Invading central line.
  • Violation of speed limit
  • Not yielding properly for emergency situation-dealing vehicles.
  • Violation of the protection of school bus.
  • Not putting on seat beat from the start to the finish.