By Shon Ga-ram
Flying a drone in Seoul is restricted because the population is so dense because the Presidential Blue House and major military facilities are located within the city. So it is almost legally impossible to fly a drone within Seoul city limits.
In fact, as shown in the picture below, most of central Seoul is a prohibited airspace (P-73A and P-73B), and the area north of Seoul toward the demilitarized zone (P-518) is also a no-fly zone.
On the other hand, the yellow section of the map, designated R-75 is a restricted area where flights are permitted under certain regulations. Moreover, the pilot of a drone must get additional prior permission from the Republic of Korea Army.
The Korean government recently announced a policy to deregulate technologies to promote their growth and development. Accordingly, I applied for a permit to fly a drone. Such permits are valid for one time only _ a new permit must be obtained for each flight. For small hobby drones, no separate pilot’s license is necessary, but for larger, heavier drones, one is required.
In the past, it was necessary to contact the Ministry of Capital Defense and the Ministry of National Defense separately to obtain permission. However, the procedure has become somewhat streamlined. Now it is sufficient to visit the dedicated of the Airline Business Plan One-stop Processing System (or APS, at http://www.onestop.go.kr/) and submit one application.
Generally speaking, when you have received a permit for aerial photography, you see the following screen:
You must meet a supervisor before flying your drone. I met my supervisor and he observed me constantly throughout the flight. He carefully recorded the take-off and landing times. While the drone was in the air, I was able to take this picture of the Han River.
In 2017, Korean aviation law was divided into Aviation Business Law, Aviation Safety Law, and Aviation Security Law. The government defined the drone industry as part of the 4th Industrial Revolution. While there were previously a lot of inconveniences in flying a drone due to various regulations, the situation is somewhat easier now.
Because permits are now been available through a website application, the process is surprisingly simple, and I expect drone flying to become more popular. However, because there is a time-lag in gaining approval, I recommend you apply at least two or three weeks before the day you want to fly.
Shon Ga-ram is a member of the Corporate & Finance Practice Group since 2016. He specializes in personal information protection, corporate governance, finance, litigation, tax, etc.