The number of people traveling in and out of the country last year surpassed 50 million for the first time. The justice ministry said the final tally came to around 50.3 million, up nearly 11 percent from 2011.
The figure includes 28 million locals and around 22 million foreigners. Some 3.5 million Japanese nationals visited Korea last year, followed by 2.5 million Chinese.
The ministry said the surging popularity of Korean pop culture led to the sharp rise in the number of visitors. Streamlined procedures to issue visas for Chinese citizens also played a role.