Korea has four very distinct seasons: spring from mid-March to the end of May; summer from June to August; autumn September to November; and winter from December to mid-March. Of course the actual weather doesn’t always fit these neat categories.
Temperatures vary hugely between midsummer and mid-winter, with August being very hot and sticky, while December and January are literally freezing. Winters in the north are colder than in the more southerly Busan or Jejudo. Heavy rainfall always arrives with the summer monsoon season (late June to mid-July).
When to go
Korea has four very distinct seasons, each with its own special characteristics. The best time of year to visit is autumn, from September to November, when skies are blue, the weather is usually sunny and warm and the forested mountainsides are ablaze with astonishing fall colours.
Spring, from April to June, is another beautiful season, with generally mild temperatures and cherry blossoms spreading north across the country in April. Camellias, azaleas and other plants and trees flower, but as with autumn, some days can be cold and wet, so bring warm and water-proof clothing.
Winter, from December to March, is dry but often bitterly cold, particularly in northern parts. Siberian winds drag January temperatures in most of the country (except Jejudo) to below zero. This is the time of year when you really appreciate ondol (underfloor heating) and oncheon (hot-spring spas) as well as the ubiquitous saunas and spicy soups. White snow on hanok (traditional house) roofs is very picturesque, and winter is the time for skiers, snowboarders or ice-skaters to visit.
Try to avoid peak summer, from late June to late August, which starts off with the monsoon season, when the country receives some 60% of its annual rainfall, and is followed by unpleasantly hot and humid weather. Although air-conditioning makes summers much more bearable these days, many locals flee the muggy cities for the mountains, beaches and islands, which become crowded, and accommodation prices double. There is also the chance of a typhoon or two.
Visit web.kma.go.kr/eng/index.jsp for detailed weather forecasts in English.