In the past, South Koreans were not likely to travel overseas, due to the Korean War and subsequent economic difficulties, as well as government restrictions on overseas travel, with passports issued only for a narrow range of reasons, such as traveling abroad on government businesses, for technical training, and so on. Since the 1960s, overseas travel restrictions and regulations have been continuously reviewed to prevent foreign currency waste from traveling abroad. However, during the 1980s, the liberalization of international travel has begun to take place in catering to the globalization of the South Korea society. Since then, South Koreans have been able to travel freely abroad.
The busy lifestyle of modern South Koreans, leading to difficulties in mediating vacations with family or friends, and the increase in one-person households, have contributed to the growing number of South Koreans traveling alone. Therefore, the popularity of destinations close to South Korea, where South Koreans can go for short vacations alone, are increasing. According to the results of a plane ticket analysis in 2016, the top foreign destination for South Koreans is Osaka, followed by Bangkok and Tokyo. Moreover, Osaka, Tokyo, and Shanghai have high re-visit rates for South Koreans. However European destinations such as London, Paris, and Rome have fallen in re-visit rating, due to geographical distances, expensive air fares and high costs.
International tourists typically enter the country through Incheon International Airport, near Seoul, which was found to be the world's best airport in 2006. Also international airports in Busan and Jeju are frequently used.