Is Seoul Tap Water Safe to Drink?

Last Update3:02 am, May 11, 2020

Can you drink tap water in Seoul?

Is tap water safe to drink in Seoul, South Korea? Tap water is safe according to the public official of The Korea Water Resources Corporation.

Despite the widespread misgivings, Seoul’s tap water may be healthier and tastier than bottled water.

Source of Water in Seoul, Korea

Seoul Tap Water
Han River, Seoul

The primary water source in Seoul is the Han River’s old name dating back to the Goguryeo Dynasty, Seoul’s tap water has filtration through one of six treatment plants along the Han River. Scientists continuously monitor the water quality for 170 variables, as the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends.

How Healthy is Tap Water?

The mineral content of tap water is as healthy as bottled spring water. The same NIER research showed that mineral content between the two was alike. Purified water, however, had almost zero mineral content.

Despite the scientific evidence, Koreans have not embraced tap water. Most households buy two-liter water bottles in bulk or install a purifier in their homes.

Numerous are put off by the smell and taste of chlorine in the tap water and consider flat water to be cleaner. To tackle this psychological barrier, the city government spent 528.5 billion won ($472 million) on upgrades to all treatment centers in 2015, explicitly aimed at improving the smell of tap water.

Public distrust in tap water runs deep, partly due to past incidents like the 1991 Nakdong River phenol contamination disturbance. City officials hope the new upgrades will deliberately ease the population into drinking tap water.

What Cause the Contamination?

An added problem is old pipelines that could dissolve rust and lead into the water. The city government has been changing the city’s water pipes to new stainless steel ones since 1984 to keep the flowing water clear. As of 2017, over 98% of the city’s 13,366-kilometer water pipe chain had been upgraded this way.

It is the homeowner’s discretion whether to replace water pipes inside houses or their apartments. The city government offered to finance up to 2.5 million won ($2234) of the pipe-switching costs for homes built before 1994. By 2017, 61%, or 349,273 targeted homes, had changed their pipes since 2007.

You can take extra precautions to lessen your worries by leaving the tap open for 30 seconds before use. Flushes out water that sits inside the pipes for a long time. Hot water may run through rusted boiler tanks, only recommended to drink cold water as per authorities.

For water quality test results, you can click here.

Traveler’s Notes

Most people don’t drink the tap water in Seoul, but those who do seem to come to no harm. Filtered water is served free of charge in almost all restaurants.

Current Weather in Seoul


Here are Some Convenience Stores in Seoul

GS25 Convenience Store
GS25 Convenience Store
  • 7 eleven
  • GS25
  • Family Mart
  • Mini Stop

Estimated Price of Bottled Water


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