Starting May 3, 2021, nationals of countries with visa waiver agreement with South Korea will need to obtain K-ETA or Korea Electronic Travel Authorization before traveling to the country.
There are currently 112 countries with visa-waiver agreement or designated visa-free entry countries with South Korea. This means that nationals of these countries will not need to apply for a short-term visa to enter the country. They can just hop on a plane and enter the country without applying for a visa prior to their trip. However, from May 3, 2021, they will be required to apply for the K-ETA by visiting the website http://www.k-eta.go.kr
The K-ETA is similar to the US ESTA wherein nationals of countries that can travel visa-free to the US have to apply for the authorization beforehand. The validity of the K-ETA is two years and will cost 10,000 won (waived from May to August 2021).
Due to the COVID19 pandemic, there will only be 21 countries that are eligible for the K-ETA. These are the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Nicaragua, Dominican Federation, Barbados, Venezuela, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Kitts-Nevis, Malta, Ireland, Guyana, Monaco, Vatican City, San Marino, Andorra, Albania, Slovenia, Guam, New Caledonia, and Palau.
Travelers are advised to check the list since this may change due to the COVID19 situation.