A: The U.S. Embassy has no authority to intervene in Korean Customs cases or Korean domestic regulations regarding imported items. Travelers entering Korea will be subject to the regulations established by the Korea Customs Service, and it’s a good idea to consult their website before you travel to Korea, especially if you plan to bring in medicine, food items or a pet. According to their website, in general, you will be able to bring up to $400 US dollars worth of goods to Korea duty free. For example, cameras, electronic equipments, leather goods, perfume concentrate, jewelry, watches, sporting goods, and most personal items such as new clothing, footwear, articles for personal hygiene/grooming are allowed. One liter of alcohol (including wine, beer or spirits) for travelers aged 20 years and over and tobacco – 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 250g tobacco products other than cigarettes – for travelers aged 19 years and over should be okay, as long as they are intended for the travelers’ own use. If you bring anything in excess of your duty free allowance, you will need to pay customs duties, VAT (Value Added Tax) and special excise taxes.
Besides customs duties and taxes, some items require licensing and approval procedures with other Korean Government agencies. These items include food, alcohol, pets, medicine, and cars. More than simply paying duties and taxes, these goods could require clearance by Korean Customs and could involve quarantine or other lengthy review procedures. However, for most industrial products, you will probably pay 8% of Customs duties and 10% of VAT. For all the details of applicable customs duty and tax rates in English, you can refer to the Duties and Taxes in Korea on the Korean Customs website.