Fukuoka Visa Run

If you’re not already in Korea, it’s easiest to get a visa from a Korean Consulate or Embassy in your own country.  However, if you find a job after you’re already in Korea or wish to extend your contract for another year, you’ll need to make a visa run.  In short, you have to go to a Korean Consulate or Embassy abroad, pick up your visa, and reenter Korea on the new visa.  It’s a nuisance but with a bit of planning, it can make a nice excuse for a vacation.  Fukuoka, Japan is the most popular destination for visa runs because it’s the closest and cheapest to get to.  In fact, it’s easily accessible by high-speed ferry from Busan in under three hours.  We’ve managed to secure some good deals on tickets and hotels, so we recommend that you visit the KoreaNow! Travel Agent Services.

We also recommend that you read on to find out just what you’ll need to do to get the visa while you’re in Fukuoka.

Busan to Fukuoka

Upon arriving at the Pusan Ferry Terminal, take the escalator upstairs, confirm your ticket at “Kobee” and they’ll assign you a seat. There will be an additional 11,600 won ferry tax that needs to be paid before you can get your seat assignment. (Click on any of the pictures for a larger version on my Flickr account.)

If you’ll be arriving in Japan after 2:00 pm, make sure you exchange money at the port in Pusan because the money exchange office in the Fukuoka terminal closes at 2:00 pm. They open every day from 7:30 am – 2:00 pm. So, if you need to exchange money on a Sunday in Fukuoka, take a bus back to the ferry terminal and do it there. I did. By the way, the exchange rate in Japan is not THAT much different than in Korea. Save yourself the hassle and just do it all in Korea.

Upon arriving in Japan, exchange money at Shinhan Bank, if you haven’t done so already. Before you leave, pick up a map from Tourist Information. If you didn’t book a hotel beforehand, ask the woman there to make calls for you. They’re VERY helpful.

Ferry port to Tenjin Subway

Once you leave the ferry terminal, look to your left and you’ll see the bus stop that leaves for Tenjin and Hakata Station.  The fare is 180 yen to Tenjin. Take bus 55, 61, 151, 152, or 80. The fare to Hakata Station is 220 yen. Take bus 11, 19, or 50. Wherever you end up, remember that the last stop on bus 80′s route is the Fukuoka Ferry Terminal. Before you go anywhere, you’ll need to know a little about the bus system in Japan.

Everyone enters the bus in the middle. For those with a pre-paid card, they’ll insert it in the gray box. Pre-paid cards can be purchased from the bus driver (when the bus isn’t moving). If you’re using change, take a ticket from the orange box. It’ll have a number on it. At the front of the bus, above the driver, is an electronic board with numbers. For example, if your ticket stub says “3,” look at the board for the number 3. At any time, it will display the cost of your fare. When you’re ready to get off, exit and pay at the front with exact change. There’s a change machine at the front of the bus.

The rest of the directions are to the Korean consulate. Get on a bus for Tenjin (180 yen). It’ll take about 15 minutes to get there. You know you’re close when you pass over a canal. Plus, once at Tenjin, the bus will make an announcement in Japanese, English, and Korean. When you step off the bus, you’ll be in the north end of Tenjin. The following is a poor quality map, but I think it’ll help get your bearings.

The blue car is supposed to represent the bus. The red dots are bus stops. The bus stop on the right is where you’ll get off. The picture below is the bus stop, and across the street, you’ll see a Family Mart and McDonald’s. The stop is roughly in front of Shopper’s Specialty Store. (As a side note, that store has a great grocery store in the basement.)

Tenjin to Tojinmachi

The subway station is right next to the bus stop. Go down the stairs. There will be a row of ticket machines and a big lit-up map above them on the wall.

From the Tenjin you-are-here sign you will see Tojinmachi (Toe-Jin Match-ee) which is where you want to go to. It costs Y200 (I think!). There’s an English language option on the ticket machine but all you have to do is put your money in and press the button that lights up saying Y200. You can ignore the ‘change to other line’ buttons.

The machine will give you change. If you make a mistake, you can even put the ticket back in the hole it came out of and your money will be refunded!

(For other destinations, the number in the circles on the map above is the fare from the you-are-here to your destination. Press the appropriate button.)

Follow down the steps. The direction of the trains is written on the wall on the other side of where they stop. You’re on the orange line at Tenjin and there’s not a great deal of choice – two directions. You want to follow the arrow that goes towards Akasaka, not Gofukumuchi (yes, that’s really the name!)

Tojinmachi to Korean Embassy

Once at Tojinmachi (3 stops from Tenjin), follow the signs for Exit one, down the steps, back up the steps and out onto the street. Carry on in the direction you depart the station from, for a block. You will see glimpses of Fukuoka dome to your right. Take the first main road to the right. There are convenience stores, one on your left, then your right. There’s a big crossroads and you’ll see a Korean-style building on the opposite left white building, Korean roof and a Korean flag.

From the station to the embassy is no more than 10-15 minutes. Go down to the guy in the booth and fill in the form.

Inside, there should be a pile of white application forms. Fill one out, hand it over before 2:30 and you’re sorted.

The next day, you’ll have to come back at 11:00. Turn up at 10 and they’ll send you away. Turn up at 10:45 and they’re okay. Picking it up literally takes 3 minutes, which gives you loads of time to get back to the ferry.

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