Korean American lifestyle vlogger Simply SSOL shared the fifteen things people should know before making the leap to move to Korea. Here’s her list, along with extra details from us.
You can get from A-to-B pretty easily but, just letting you know, rush hour is pretty crazy.
There are several rush “hours” in Korea. The two obvious ones are the morning and evening rush hour when people are headed to or leaving work. But on weekdays in major districts, there is also a late-night rush hour starting at 10pm as that is when all of the students attending hagwons (after school academies) have to leave their academy, causing major traffic as parents all head out to pick up their children.
It’s very expensive to get an apartment.
Housing in Korea is not cheap, especially when renting. There are two systems of renting an apartment in Korea, wolse and jeonse. For foreigners, wolse is the more commonly used system which involves putting down a relatively sizable security deposit ranging from ₩10.0 million KRW (about $7,000 USD) to ₩30.0 million KRW (about $21,000 USD) and then paying a monthly rent between ₩700,000 KRW (about $490 USD) and ₩1.50 million KRW (about $1,050 USD). The jeonse system involves putting down a hefty security deposit of at least ₩400 million KRW (about $280,000 USD), but then you will not need to pay rent.
Make sure to note the length of your housing contract! Many housing contracts are TWO years long, not one year. There are also short-term rental contracts that have a lower security deposit but higher monthly rent.
3. Public Bathrooms
It’s not really clean so please carry your own tissue because a lot of time you’ll go in there and find that there’s no tissue.
By tissue, she means toilet paper! While not too common, you may run into a unkempt restroom that will not have toilet paper in stock, but public restrooms in public areas are usually well maintained.
4. Plastic Surgery
If you’re around Gangnam area, you’ll probably notice a lot of before-and-after pictures of woman who had plastic surgery…
Not only the Gangnam area, but also other tourist hotspots such as Apgujeong and Myeongdong too.
Living in Seoul, you will know that people who live here don’t sleep at night. It doesn’t matter if it’s the weekend or a weekday, if you’re a deep sleeper, I don’t recommend you looking for a place near popular areas.
Currently the hot places are the Apgujeong and Gangnam districts as well as the area around Konkuk University and Hongdae University. The area around Euljiro has also been rising in popularity lately.
6. Public trashcans
There aren’t any public trashcans, so basically, you can’t really throw anything away.
There are some public trashcans spread throughout the main streets, but they are quite spread out. Often times, they will also be already full, especially on weekends when many people are out and about.
Korea recycles literally everything.
Recycling is taken seriously in Korea, with many things being recycled. Some buildings will require their residents to sort their recycling and others will just accept all recycling at once.
I grew up in the states, so saying hi to a stranger or just someone who is walking by, and smiling, is quite normal, but here, I first did that and after I got a lot of weird stares…
Greeting your server or store attendant is a common occurance in Korea.
9. Big Sized Clothes
Unless you go to H&M or Forever21, you’re not going to really find clothes that fit you.
If you wear larger clothes, Itaewon has many stores that offer what you may be looking for. Many clothes in Korea run smaller compared to their foreign equivalents. For example, a medium size t-shirt in the United States is similar to a large size t-shirt in Korea.
10. Sharing Food
Asian culture, we share a lot of food and I don’t mean sharing food like, ‘Can you pass me the dish?’
Many restaurants serve family-style meals, and even more serve at least the side dishes in a shared style. It is common for every member of the party to have their utensils put in the dish.
Fruit is very expensive.
Nearly all fruits are expensive in Korea. Pineapple is the most cost effective fruit, but it’s common to see fruit at prices twice as much as you may be used to in your home country.
If you’re uncomfortable going into an area with naked strangers, I don’t recommend you going there.
Both single-gender and co-ed saunas exist in Korea, but even if they are co-ed, the locker rooms where the baths are located are of course, single-gender.
Korea kind of follows this own age metric system, where you add a year or two to your age.
Everyone adds a year to their age when the new year starts and they tend to count the time that you are in your mother’s womb as part of your age as well, leading to situations where you might only be 26 on January 1 but your Korean age is 28.
14. Flip flops
In Korea, nobody really wears flip flops.
Slides are really popular though!
If you’re not a big, heavy drinker. You should be prepared because everybody drinks.
It’s totally not because soju only costs ₩1,700 KRW (about $1.19 USD) per bottle at convenience stores… not at all…