Animals in South Korea

Updated: March 4, 2023
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Below you can find a complete list of Korean animals. We currently track 234 animals in South Korea and are adding more every day!

South Korea is a small country located in East Asia. Bounded on three sides by the sea, it also shares a long land border with the formerly unified country of North Korea. Beyond the dense cities, the countryside teems with unique wildlife. Approximately 70% of the country is covered by hills and mountains, including the three largest ranges of Taebaek, Sobaek, and Jiri Massif. The remaining landmass is covered by grassland, wetland, and forest biomes.

N Seoul Tower, South Korea

South Korea is located in Eastern Asia and lies on the Korean Peninsula. It shares a land border with North Korea.


Once farmland, the region between South and North Korea (DMZ) has remained untouched since the end of hostilities and has reverted to an almost pristine state to create a refuge for wildlife. In addition to forests, the area includes wetlands and estuaries frequented by migratory birds. Hundreds of bird species enjoy the sanctuary – among them several endangered cranes. Asiatic black bears, lynxes, and other mammals also inhabit the region.

The Official National (State) Animal of South Korea

Tiger, Animals In The Wild, Forest, Water, Animal Head

The magnificent Siberian


is the official national animal of South Korea.

© Prosicky

The Siberian tiger is the official national animal of South Korea. An important historical and cultural symbol, the tiger, unfortunately, hasn’t existed in Korea since the early 20th century. The animal, once a very real presence in the mountains and valleys, vanished in the 1940s after being hunted to extinction.

Animals in South Korea

The Korean magpie is the national bird of South Korea, which symbolizes luck and good fortune.

©Robert Ang/

In addition, the Korean magpie is the national bird of South Korea. A relative of the crow, the magpie is a symbol of luck and good fortune. It also served a similar mythological purpose as the tooth fairy.

Where to Find the Top Wild Animals in South Korea

South Korea has more than 20 beautiful national parks across the country’s rich biomes. They still contain plenty of undisturbed wild animals for visitors to experience and explore. Here’s just a small list of them.


Otters are a popular attraction at several of South Korea’s national parks.


The Most Dangerous Animals in South Korea Today

South Korea is relatively free of large carnivores that may pose a danger to people. But a few venomous insects and snakes can still be found throughout the country.


Japanese pit vipers can deliver a painful toxin that may require hospitalization.


  • Asian Giant Hornet Having gained notoriety worldwide as the “murder hornet,” the Asian giant hornet can deliver a painful neurotoxin. While a single hornet cannot produce these toxins in sufficient quantities to kill a human, multiple stings can be life-threatening to non-allergic people in very rare circumstances. The threat is multiplied in people with allergies. Fortunately, only a handful of people die every year from their stings.
  • Japanese Pit Viper – Also known as the mamushi, this snake is native to China, Japan, and Korea. Death is relatively rare, but it can deliver a painful toxin that may require a week of treatment in the hospital.
  • Yellow-bellied Sea Snake – Located throughout the entire Indo-Pacific region, the yellow-bellied sea snake has a highly potent toxin that may cause muscle pain, stiffness, vomiting, and drowsiness. In very rare cases, it can lead to paralysis and death. Anyone bitten by this species needs to seek immediate medical attention.

Largest Animal in South Korea

Asiatic black bear

The Asiatic black bear is one of the largest animals in South Korea.


The Asiatic black bear, also known as the moon bear, is native to South Korean forested hills and mountains and can be found throughout Asia. This bear has a glossy black coat with a light-colored marking shaped like a crescent moon on its chest. Its long neck and shoulder hair looks like a cropped mane.

This omnivorous bear eats insects, fruit, nuts, bees and honey, small mammals, birds, and carrion. An adult male weighs 100-200 kg (220 – 440 pounds) while females are half that size. Asiatic black bears live as long as 25 years in the wild and up to 39 years in captivity.

Excellent climbers, these bears will climb trees to feed, rest, sun, and elude enemies. Half of their life is spent in trees and they are one of the largest arboreal mammals. The Asiatic black bear is classified as a vulnerable species, due to the loss of habitat from logging and from hunting. The bear’s gallbladder and bile are highly valued for use in traditional Asian medicines.

The Rarest Animal in South Korea

Amur Leopards are an extremely rare sight in South Korea and may even be extinct in the country.

©Dmitri Gomon/

The Amur leopard is not only one of the rarest animals in South Korea – it is also the world’s rarest big cat. There are under 100 of these magnificent animals left in the entire world – with the majority in Russia after conservation efforts there have increased.

Strong and nimble-footed, Amur leopards are able to tackle prey up to 10 times their own weight (100 lbs) and carry it high in trees to keep it from other predators. Like other leopards, they can run at speeds of up to 37 mph and leap more than 19 feet horizontally and 10 feet vertically.

Adapted to living in cold, harsh forests, the coats of this leopard are paler than most subspecies – with large, dark, widely spaced rosettes with thick unbroken rings. Amur leopard fur can grow to 7 centimeters in length during the cold winter months.

The beautiful coat of the Amur leopard has led to its critically endangered status, as they have been poached heavily. Loss of habitat and scarcity of food are other factors. The leopard’s prey, roe deer, sika deer, and hare are hunted by local communities for food.

Endangered Animals in South Korea

While South Korea has made strides to protect its wildlife, many of its large carnivores have dwindled or become completely extinct from the country.

Largest Cranes - Red-crowned Crane

The red-crowned crane is among the rarest cranes in the world and a symbol of prosperity and peace.


  • Korean Fox – This subspecies of the red fox was once native to Korea, Russia, and northeast China. But habitat loss and poaching have caused numbers to decline precipitously from the early 20th century onward. Conservationists are now attempting to reintroduce this species into many parts of its former range.
  • Amur Leopard – This endangered subspecies of the leopard is one of the rarest cats on the planet. Since the last Korean leopard was seen in 1970, many people consider it to be locally extinct. A small population of less than a hundred still survives in Russia and China.
  • Ussuri Black Bear – A subspecies of the Asian black bear, this animal lives in the broadleaf forests of alpine biomes in the Koreas. Since the numbers of these bears have dwindled from habitat loss and hunting, conservationists have made efforts to reintroduce them back into parts of their former habitat.
  • Red-Crowned Crane Among the rarest cranes in the world, the red-crowned crane migrates from Siberia to Korea and China for the winter. It is considered to be a symbol of prosperity and peace, but now it’s in danger of becoming extinct.
  • Siberian Musk DeerAlthough still fairly common through many parts of northeastern Asia, the number of Siberian musk deer has fallen significantly in Korea from habitat loss and hunting.

South Korea’s Flag

South Korean flag

The flag of South Korea features yin and yang symbols.

©Rob Wilson/

South Korea’s flag features a white background, with a round symbol in the center. This symbol, called a Taegeuk, dates back to Chinese Taiji. It is reminiscent of the concept of yin and yang, or polarities. The red and blue colors represent land and sky, respectively. A trigram sits in each of the flag’s four corners. Trigrams come from bagua in Taoist philosophy, and they represent worldly elements working together to achieve balance.

The color white is seen as a traditional color in Korean culture, commonly used in daily clothing in the 19th century. The white background represents purity and peace.

Korean Animals

Admiral Butterfly

Stunningly beautiful wings

Alaskan Pollock

It's one of the most commonly eaten fish in the world


First evolved 100 million years ago!


Renew their horns every year!


They are so named because they "march" in armies of worms from one crop to another in search of food

Asian Lady Beetle

Asian lady beetles infest indoor spaces, but they do not reproduce indoors.

Asiatic Black Bear

Known to eat 160 different tree-borne fruits in Thailand!


Extinct ancestor of all domesticated cattle!

Banana Spider

People spin clothing and fishing nets out of these spiders’ silk.


There are over 1768 known species!

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Barn Swallow

Older offspring help care for new hatchlings.


Detects prey using echolocation!


There are 8 different species!

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs feed for 4-12 minutes.


Rock paintings of bees date back 15,000 years


There are more than 350,000 different species

Beewolf wasp

They hunt bees


Not all birds are able to fly!

Biscuit Beetle

The biscuit beetle form a symbiotic relationship with yeast

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Brazilian Treehopper

“Mild-Mannered Minimonsters”

Brown Dog Tick

Can live its entire life indoors


The most common species of bee!


There are thought to be up 17,500 species!

Camel Cricket

The camel crickets that are found in the USA are light brown in color. They also have dark streaks all over their body.

Carpenter Ant

Carpenter ants can lift up to seven times their own weight with their teeth!


May have been domesticated up to 10,000 years ago.


The larvae of a moth or butterfly!


There are nearly 3,000 different species!


There are about 3,000 documented species!


First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!

Chinese Geese

They are excellent “guard geese”

Chinese Water Deer

They usually have 2-3 young at a time but can have up to 7!

Cinereous Vulture

This vulture can fly at great heights. At least one was found a few thousand feet from the top of Mount Everest.


Dated to be around 300 million years old!

Codling Moth

Pupae are able to undergo diapause to survive poor fruit yield years and winter.

Common Buzzard

The most common raptor in the UK!

Common Furniture Beetle

The common furniture beetle feeds exclusively on wood

Common House Spider

House spiders have the ability to eat most insects in a home.


They can fly 35 mph and dive 150 feet below water.

Cosmic Caterpillar

Cosmic caterpillars have spots on their back that look like eyes to scare off predators.


There are nearly 1.5 billion worldwide!


There are 93 different crab groups

Crab Spider

Crab Spiders can mimic ants or bird droppings


Many are critically endangered species!


Male crickets can produce sounds by rubbing their wings together


Have changed little in 200 million years!


A group of these birds is called a Murder.


There are around 40 different species!

Diving Bell Spider (Water Spider)

Diving bell spiders can breathe underwater using an air bubble on their abdomen


First domesticated in South-East Asia!

Dog Tick

Dog ticks feed on dogs and other mammals


First domesticated 5,000 years ago!


Found in Europe, Africa and Asia!


It's larvae are carnivorous!


Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!

Dung Beetle

The dung beetle can push objects many times its own weight


Has exceptional eyesight!


They are hermaphrodites, which means they have male and female organs


There are nearly 2,000 different species!


Eels can be a mere few inches long to 13 feet!

Eurasian Bullfinch

The shy eurasian bullfinch prefers to forage very close to cover.

Eurasian Eagle-owl

The Eurasian Eagle-owl is the second largest owl in the world with a wingspan up to six feet!

Eurasian Jay

The Eurasian jay has the ability to mimic other sounds

Eurasian Lynx

Eurasian lynxes can survive extreme weather up to elevations of 18,000 feet

European Goldfinch

They are frequent visitors to backyard feeders, especially those containing niger seeds.

European Robin

Male robins are so aggressive and territorial that they will attack their own reflections.


The fastest creatures on the planet!

False Widow Spider

False spiders actually prey on black widow spiders and other hazardous spiders

Fiddler Crab

The fiddler crab gets its name from the motion the males make with their over-sized claw during the mating ritual.

Fire-Bellied Toad

Found across mainland Europe and Asia!


The firefly produces some of the most efficient light in the world


Adult fleas can jump up to 7 inches in the air


There are more than 240,000 different species!

Flying Squirrel

Can glide up to 90 meters!


Only 12 species are considered "true foxes"

Freshwater Eel

Freshwater eels are actually catadromous, meaning they migrate to saltwater to spawn


There are around 7,000 different species!

Fruit Fly

Fruit flies are among the most common research animals in the world


Named for the Arabic word for love poems


There are thought to be over 2,000 species!


Originally known as the Desert Rat!

German Cockroach

The most common type of urban roach

Glass Lizard

Can grow up to 4ft long!


Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!


Males form large mating swarms at dusk


Most closely related to the Sheep!


The goldcrest never starts moving and needs to consume for most of the day to survive. Therefore, in the colder months, it's best that eat 90% a day.

Golden Eagle

Their calls sound like high-pitched screams, but they are quiet most of the time.

Golden Oriole

Migrates between Europe and Asia!


There are 29 different species!


Gourami fishes show parental care for their young


There are 11,000 known species!

Green Bee-Eater

Mainly eats honeybees!

Gypsy Moth

One of the most invasive species in the world


Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!


Can reach speeds of over 50 mph!

Hawk Moth Caterpillar

Many hawk moth caterpillars eat toxins from plants, but don’t sequester them the way milkweed butterflies do. Most toxins are excreted.


Thought to be one of the oldest mammals on Earth!


Inhabits wetlands around the world!

Herring Gull

They are loud, spirited birds with raucous cries that sound like bursts of laughter.

Honey Bee

There are only 8 recognized species!


Stunning bird with a stinky way to deter predators!


Has evolved over 50 million years!


Horseflies have been seen performing Immelmann turns, much like fighter jets.

Horseshoe Crab

Changed little in over 500 million years!


The fly has no teeth


Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!

Huntsman Spider

Some huntsman spiders have an interesting way of moving around. Some cartwheel while others do handsprings or backflips.


Found in swamps, marshes and wetlands!


There are an estimated 30 million species!


The jackdaw tends to mate for life with a single partner


Tiny rodent with a kangaroo-like jump!

Joro Spider

Shares its name with a Japanese "spider demon"!

Jumping Spider

Some can jump 50 times the length of their bodies


The checkered keelback of the east Indies can detach its tail and grow it back, much like a lizard.


Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!

Korean Jindo

At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Jindos marched in the opening ceremonies.


There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!


Has 10 pairs of eyes!

Leopard Cat

There are 11 different species!


The offspring of a lion and tiger parents!


There are around 5,000 different species!


Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day.

Long-Eared Owl

Ear tufts make it look bigger!

Long-Tailed Tit

Often hangs upside down while feeding!


They are found across Europe, Asia and Africa!


With an appropriate tail wind, the mallard can travel hundreds of miles a day

Masked Palm Civet

Found throughout Asia, India and China!


There are 2,500 known species worldwide!


They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.


They line their nests with their feathers


Some species have a poisonous bite!


Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!

Mole Cricket

Adult Mole crickets may fly as far as 5 miles during mating season and are active most of the year.


Range in size from just 1 to 3 foot!


Has characteristics of two or more breeds!

Monitor Lizard

Some species are thought to carry a weak venom!


There are around 260 known species!


Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!


Only the female mosquito actually sucks blood


There are 250,000 different species!


Found on every continent on Earth!


The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!


Roamed Asia and Europe for around 100,000 years!


Nematodes range in size from 1/10 of an inch to 28 feet long


Able to regrow lost or damaged limbs!


Named more than 1,000 years ago!

No See Ums

There are more than 5,000 species.

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males


They reuse nesting sites for 70 years!


There are 13 different species worldwide


The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees


Can live for up to 100 years!

Peacock Butterfly

The eyespots on this butterfly’s wings deter predators from attacking.

Peppered Moth

Teachers in schools often use the evolution of the peppered moth as a good example of Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Peregrine Falcon

Fastest animal on Earth


Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!


Thought to have been domesticated in 9,000 BC!


They can find their way back to their nests from up to 1300 miles away.


Found in mountainous regions and rocky areas

Pit Viper

Pit vipers's fangs fold up into their mouths when they don't need them.

Pompano Fish

They are bottom-feeders

Pond Skater

There are 500 different species!


There are 30 different species worldwide!


Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!


There are more than 300 different species!


Omnivores that eat anything!

Rat Snakes

Rat snakes are constrictors from the Colubridae family of snakes.


It's horns are made from keratin!

River Turtle

Inhabits freshwater habitats around the world!


There are more than 45 species in Australia alone!


The capybara, the world’s largest rodent, likes to be in and around bodies of water. Because of this, the Catholic Church in South America decided that it was a fish, and people were allowed to eat it during Lent and First Fridays.


Will mate with the entire flock!

Rough-Legged Hawk (Rough-Legged Buzzard)

Its scientific name, lagopus, is Ancient Greek for “hare” and “foot,” referring to its feathered feet and toes.


Their fur has been considered a luxury item since the Middle Ages

Sable Ferret

Ferrets were used during the Revolutionary War to keep down the rat population.


There are more than 700 different species!


Male sambars will compete for mates by clashing together with their antlers

Sand Crab

The sand crab burrows beneath the sand with its tail


Natives know this breed as the "ghost hunter" because they believe these dogs can ward off evil spirits.


There are around 2,000 known species!

Sea Eagle

The sea eagle tends to mate for life with a single partner


Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!


Around 35 million in the English countryside!

Short-Eared Owl

The short-eared owl is one of the most widespread owl species in the world, covering five continents.


The spinal column of the shrew Scutisorex somereni is so strong and reinforced that it can support the weight of an adult human.


There are 2,000 different species worldwide!

Skink Lizard

Some skinks lay eggs in some habitats while giving birth to skinklets in other habitats.

Slow Worm

Found widely throughout British gardens!


They glide around on one foot, which is aided by the slime they produce

Smokybrown Cockroach

Has up to 45 eggs per egg case


There are nearly 1,000 different species!


There are around 4,000 known species worldwide


There are 140 different species!

Spider Wasp

They prey on spiders to feed their larvae or they parasitize other spider wasps.


Small rodents found in woodlands worldwide!

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!


Average adults weigh about 200 grams!


Populations have been affected by pollution!

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula hawks are excellent pollinators, especially for milkweed.


Their mounds can be up to 9 meters tall!


The American robin is called the robin because its red breast reminded European settlers of the robin back in the old country.


They inject hosts with a chemical that stops them from feeling the pain of the bite


The largest feline in the world!

Tiger Beetle

The adult tiger beetle is one of the fastest land insects in the world


Can live until they are more than 150 years old!

Tree Cricket

They make music with their wings

Tree Frog

Found in warmer jungles and forests!


Some species of aquatic turtles can get up to 70 percent of their oxygen through their butt.

Ural owl

The Ural owl can rotate its head up to 270 degrees


Vinegaroons can spray 19 times before the glands are depleted


Vipers are one of the most widespread groups of snakes and inhabit most


There are 30 different species worldwide!


There are around 75,000 recognised species!

Water Buffalo

Has been domesticated for thousands of years!

Water Dragon

Spends most of it's time in the trees!


The smallest carnivorous mammal in the world!

White Ferret / Albino Ferrets

There are two different types of white ferrets!

White Tiger

None have been seen in the wild for 50 years!

Wild Boar

Males have a top tusk to sharpen the bottom one!


Thought to date back more than 300,000 years!

Wolf Spider

Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.


This animal can roll up into a ball

Woodlouse Spider

Unlike most spiders, woodlouse spiders don’t build a web.


There are 200 different species!


Doesn’t have eyes.


They feign death by making their bodies limp and closing their eyes.


There are around 75 different species!

Korean Animals List

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About the Author

After a career of working to provide opportunities for local communities to experience and create art, I am enjoying having time to write about two of my favorite things - nature and animals. Half of my life is spent outdoors, usually with my husband and sweet little fourteen year old dog. We love to take walks by the lake and take photos of the animals we meet including: otters, ospreys, Canadian geese, ducks and nesting bald eagles. I also enjoy reading, discovering books to add to my library, collecting and playing vinyl, and listening to my son's music.

Animals in South Korea FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What animals live in South Korea?

South Korea is home to many types of wild deer, weasels, seals, bats, rodents, snakes, insects, freshwater fish, and marine animals. Dolphins and whales are particularly common off the coast of South Korea.

What animal is South Korea famous for?

The magpie, Asian hornet, and black bear are perhaps some of the best known species that still inhabits the country. While the Siberian tiger is sometimes associated with South Korea, this endangered species is no longer found in the country.

Are there any dangerous animals in South Korea?

South Korea has several dangerous and venomous species that may cause several deaths every year.

Are there tigers in South Korea?

South Korea was once home to the Siberian tiger as recently as the early 20th century. But the combined effect of habitat loss and hunting has almost eradicated the tiger from the entire peninsula.

Are there monkeys in South Korea?

South Korea does not have any native monkey species, even though nearby China and Japan both have some.