Settling-in Korea

Korea Destination Guide

The Basics

Let’s Talk About Culture

Settling in Tips

Let’s Have Fun

Need Help?

The Basics

About Korea

The Korean Peninsula extends southward from the eastern end of the Asian continent. It is roughly 1,000 km (621 miles) long and 216 km (134 miles) wide at its narrowest point. Mountains cover 70% of the land mass, making it one of the most mountainous regions in the world.

The peninsula is divided just slightly north of the 38th parallel. The Demilitarized Zone separates the democratic Republic of Korea in the south and communist Korea in the North. Administratively, the Republic of Korea consists of nine provinces (-do); the capital Seoul; the six metropolitan cities of Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon and Ulsan, and additional 77 cities (-si) and 88 counties (-gun).

The habitation of early mankind in Korea appears to have started about half a million years ago. The first kingdom, named Gojoseon (Ancient Joseon), lasted from 2333-108 BC. After which, the Three Kingdoms period (57 BC – 668 AD) and the Unified Silla period (676 – 935), Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), an aristocratic government was instituted. Buddhism was established as the state religion and came to have great influence in the political and administrative spheres. The name “Korea” is a derivative of “Goryeo”. The Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) was the peninsula’s last dynasty. During this period, Confucianism was adopted as the state ideology. Moreover, the surge of creative literary endeavors and the invention of Hangeul (the Korean alphabet) in 1443 make this cultural period very significant. Palaces and gates constructed during this period can still be seen in the city today.

South Korea is an extraordinary country filled with beautiful beaches, thriving cities, ancient temples, remarkable natural scenery and most importantly, friendly people with ancient history. South Korea has come a long way since The Korean War which ended in 1953. Almost all of South Korea was completely leveled during the war which is hard to imagine if you have seen Korea recently.

Korea’s dense urban centers, developed parks and recreation facilities, high tech infrastructure and ultra-modern public transportation systems are just some of the things that have made Korea a recognized hotspot for international business and travel. Seoul Olympic Park, located in the capital city of Seoul, preserves the spirit of the 1988 Summer Olympics and is open all day providing multipurpose areas for sports, leisure and a variety of cultural activities.

Korea's Facts & Figures

Land Area:100,032 sq km
Population:49 million (2014)
GovernmentSouth Korea is a republic nation with shared power between the president, legislature and the courts.
Time ZoneGMT+9
CurrencyKorean Won (KRW)
ReligionFreedom of religion is fully guaranteed. Korea’s traditional religions-Shamanism, Buddhism and Confucianism-have all played an integral role in the country’s socio-cultural development.
LanguageThe official language is Hangul.
WeatherHeavy monsoon rains in the summer months with temperatures exceeding 35°C. The winter months can see temperatures dropping to
-14°C in the northern provinces.
National FlagTaegeukgi
National FlowerMugunghwa (Rose of Sharon)

Let’s Talk About Culture

Local Culture


The Korean language, like Hungarian, Mongolian and Finnish, is classified into the Ural-Altaic language group. Hangeul (the Korean alphabet) is composed of ten simple vowels and 14 consonants. A group of scholars under the patronage of King Sejong the Great developed this systematic rendition of spoken sound in 1443. Hunminjeongeum, a historical document which provides instructions to educate people on the use of Hangeul, is registered with UNESCO as a World Heritage, and UNESCO also awards the “King Sejong Literacy Prize” every year in memory of the inventor of Hangeul.

Sense of Seniority

Although the traditional Confucian social structure is changing, it is still prevalent in Korea. Age and seniority are important, and juniors are expected to follow and obey their elders. Therefore, people often ask you your age and sometimes your marital status to find out their position relative to you. These questions are not meant to intrude on your privacy, and Koreans will not be offended if you do not answer.

Body Language

When you call for a person, do so with your palm down, and then flutter your hand up and down with your fingers touching. It is not polite to call a person with your palm up, especially using only one finger, because that is how Koreans call their pets.

Hanbok (traditional clothes)

The Hanbok has been Korean people’s traditional costume for thousands of years. You can see the beauty and grace of Korean culture when women wear Hanbok. Hanbok was everyday attire efore the arrival of Western-style clothing 100 years ago. Men wore Jeogori (jackets) with Baji (trousers) while women wore Jeogori with Chima (skirts).

Today, the Hanbok is worn on special occasions such as weddings, Seollal (Lunar New Year’s Day) and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day).


Traditional Korean rooms have multiple functions. Rooms are not labeled or reserved for a specific purpose; there is no definite bedroom or dining room. Instead, tables and mats are brought in as needed. Most people sit and sleep on the floor using thick mats. Underneath the floors are stone or concrete flues. Traditionally, hot air was blown through the pipes to provide heat. Clay or cement would be placed over the stones to protect the residents from noxious gasses. This type of underfloor heating is called Ondol.


Gimjang refers to the old-age Korean tradition of preparing winter Kimchi (Pickled and fermented vegetables). Since very few vegetables are grown in the winter months, Gimjang takes place in early winter and provides what has become a staple food for Koreans. A Korean dinner table without Kimchi is impossible.

Settling in Tips

Getting Around


There are city buses, distance buses and express buses. To use distance buses and express buses, you will need to buy tickets in advance. You can buy tickets in person or online. Remember to check the time of departure and destination before getting on a bus.


Subway lines are operated in Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, and Incheon. Subway trains run at 2.5 to 3-minute intervals in rush hours and at 4 to 6-minute intervals outside of the rush hours. The basic fare is KRW 1,250 and the price increases according to the distance traveled.


Taxis are available 24 hours. They can be easily distinguished from regular cars by their signs on top of the car roof. You can get a taxi at a taxi stand or hail one on the street by waving at one. You can also call a taxi to pick you up at your location, and extra fee of KRW 1,000 is typically charged for this service.


Trains are very fast and can take you to almost all major cities in Korea. They also are well connected to buses and subways, enabling you to reach your final destination with ease. The KTX (Korea Train Express) is fastest and the most expensive at 2hrs 50min from Seoul to Busan.

Chauffeur service

Korean often uses a chauffeur service called Daeri-unjeon after drinking alcohol. A hired driver takes a passenger to home with passenger’s vehicle. A driver can be called to pick up at a reception of bar or restaurant.

Driving License

You should get an international driver’s license or a Korean driver’s license for driving in Korea.

Swapping Korean driver’s license process

– Visit the road traffic authority with required documents*.
– Take the optical test and fill-in application form
– Get the Korean driver’s License

Require documents
– Original Foreign Driver’s license
– Original Passport (with the stamp for most recent entry into Korea)
– Alien Registration Card
– 3 colors photos (3.5 x 4.5)
– Medical test fee (KRW5,000, optical test)
– Driver’s License exchange fee (KRW7,500)

* Confirmation document verifying validity of Foreign Driver’s License: must be an official document issued by the respective Consulate or Country Representative Agency either in English or in Korea (applies for countries that are members of the Apostille Agreement)

– No additional notarization is required

* Your driver’s license will be kept by the local license institute while you are using the Korean driver’s license.

* The direction and requirements for swapping driver’s license are different depending on which country you are from. lease ask your consultant then they will give you specific direction.


Korean cuisine & table manners

Korean cuisine is made up of rice, soup, and three to four side dishes, including Kimchi. Koreans use a spoon to eat rice and soup, and chopsticks for side dishes. Koreans don’t hold their bowls or plates while eating and believe that sharing food from one bowl stimulates close relationships.

Kimchi is a fermented vegetable dish that can be stored for a long time. There are many varieties of Kimchi, and they differ due to region and ingredients. Although Kimchi is an essential side dish, it is also a significant ingredient in other popular dishes, such as Kimchi Jjikae (Kimchi stew), Kimchi pancakes, Kimchi fried rice, and Kimchi ramyeon. Kimchi is gaining worldwide popularity because of its nutritional value.

DDEOK is a traditional Korean rice cake served during festive occasions such as birthdays, weddings, and traditional holidays. There are many kinds of Ddeok. During Lunar New Year celebrations all Koreans eat Ddeok-guk (rice cake soup). Bibimbap is mixed vegetables with rice. It is one of Korea’s most popular and healthy meals. Vegetables, a fried egg, and rice are mixed with different ingredients and Gochujang (Korean red pepper paste).

Bulgogi is thin strips of marinated grilled meat (pork or beef). Sometimes it is cooked using a charcoal grill. Galbi is ribs, which can be either stewed or barbecued. Samgyetang is a nutritious soup that is very popular in the summer.

A bowl of Samgyetang contains one small chicken, rice, ginseng, garlic, and jujubes. Koreans have traditionally eaten hot meat dishes, such as Samgyetang, on the three hottest days of the year to increase their stamina.

Soju, traditional alcohol unique to Korea, is the most popular drink in the country. The average amount of alcohol is about 21%, and each province has its brand of Soju. It goes especially well with Samgyepsal (pork barbeque), but Koreans like to drink it with any dish. Sometimes, they mix soju with beer as well.

Medical Care

Seoul Health Call Center

The Seoul Health Call Center provides health consulting services, including consulting on routine health problems and health information, courtesy of specialist doctors via phone and Internet 24hours a day 365 days a year. Medical Interpretation services and hospital information are provided to expatriate workers and foreign tourists in English, Japanese, Chinese, Mongol, and Vietnamese. “Call 119 for your health problems.”

Health consultation scope Overall health problems including medical information, health promotion, and prevention of diseases with regard to inquiries on specific diseases and symptoms

The Seoul Health Call Center is located in the total situation room of the Seoul Total Disaster Prevention Center(119)(Toegyero 26ga gil 6, Jung-gu, Seoul)

Useful Contacts

Severance Hospital
Address: 50 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul (Old: 134, Sinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul) International Clinic Tel: 02-361-6540 / 02-2228-5800

Official Website:

Open 9:30 a.m.- 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. on weekdays, and 9:30 a.m.-11:30
a.m. on Saturdays.

Emergency Service
Medical Doctor on call: 010-9948-0983
Administrator on call: 010-9948-0982

Asan Medical Center
Address: 388-1, Pungnap-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul
International Clinic Tel: 02-3010-5001

Official Website:

Open 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on weekdays, and 9:00 a.m. – noon on Saturdays

Emergency Service
Administrator on call: 02-3010-5001

Samsung Medical Center
Address: 50, Irwon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul / Tel: 02-3410-2114

International Clinic Tel: 02-3410-0200

Open 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. on weekdays, and 09:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. on Saturdays.

Emergency Service
Administrator on call: 02-3410-0200

Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital
Address: 505, Banpo-Dong, Seocho-Gu, International Clinic

International Clinic Tel: 02-2258-5745~6

Official Website:

Open 8:00 a.m.~5:00 p.m. on weekdays, and 09:00 a.m.-12:00 9.m. on Saturdays

Primary Care Consultation Hours (with appointment) : 8:30am ~ 16:30pm Mon. ~ Fri. 09:00~12:00 Sat.

Gangnam Severance Hospital
Address: 712 Eonjuro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 135-720, Korea (Old: 146-92 Dogok-dong, Gangnam-gu)

International Clinic Tel: 02-2019-3600

Official Website:

Open: 8:30am -5:30pm (Mon.-Fri.)

Specialty Clinic hours of operation: 9:00am – 12:00pm, 2:00 – 4:30pm (Mon-Fri)

Emergency Service
Administrator on call: 010-7306-0602

Foreign Schools

As of 2010, there were a total of 49 international schools in Korea. The highest concentration of foreign schools can be found in the capital, Seoul, with 18 schools, while five are located in the southeastern port of Busan, the second largest city in Korea. Most of the foreign schools use English as the language of instruction and follow the U.S. This is not entirely the case however there are French schools, German school, Japanese school, and Mongolian school. Some schools are offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.

Seoul Foreign School (SFS)
39, Yeonhui-ro 22-gil, Seodaemun-Gu, Seoul / Tel. 02-330-3100 / [E]
Seoul Foreign School (SFS) is one of the oldest international schools in Korea, with a
history that goes back to 1912, when Methodist missionaries founded it.

Yongsan International School (YISS)
285, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul / Tel. 02-797-5104 / [E]
Located on a brand new campus in the heart of Yongsan, Yongsan International School
has some of the best facilities of any international school in Korea.

Lycee Francais de Seoul
7, Seorae-ro, Seocho-gu, Seoul / Tel. 02-535-1158 / [K, F, E]
The Lycée Français de Seoul (Seoul French School) is located in the heart of Seoul’s
French community in Banpo 4-dong. It is Seoul’s only government-established
French-language school.

Deutsche Schule Seoul
123-6, Dokseodang-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul / Tel. 02-792-0797 /
[D, E]
The Deutsche Schule Seoul (Seoul German School) founded in 1976, is Korea’s only
German-language school. It’s supported by the German government.

Japanese School in Seoul
11, World Cup buk-ro 62-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul / Tel. 02-308-2010 / [J]
The Japanese School in Seoul, founded in 1972, provides Japanese-language education
to Seoul’s Japanese expatriate community.

Hanseong Chinese Elementary School
35, Myeongdong 2-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul / Tel.02-776-3728 / [C]

Daily Needs


Banks in Korea can be divided into 4 groups: commercial banks, special banks, regional banks, and savings banks. There are the following types of bank accounts: Current, ordinary deposit, on-call deposit, and installment deposits.

– If you have incomes in Korea, you can remit money within the corresponding amount.

Your remittance will be greatly expedited for the following countries

USA: ABA No. (Routing No.), CHIPS No.
Canada: TRANSIT No.
England: SORT Code
Germany: BLZ No.

– In general, money is received in 2 to 3 working days from the date of remittance.

However, this can differ according to the system of the remitting bank.

Foreign Currency Deposits (Source:
Deposits and withdrawals can be made without restriction

– Eligibility: No restriction
– Deposit Period: No restriction
– Amount: No restriction
– Currencies: Depending on the bank
– This product is not protected by the Depositor Protection Act.

ATMs in most major cities in Korea are in service for foreign cards 24/7. You can use credit cards and debit cards issued in foreign countries at ATMs with “Cirrus” or “Star” signs. They are called the “Global ATM.” If there are no English instructions, ask a Korean for help. You can withdraw cash up to your credit limit from the ATMs of your bank or other multiple-institution-ATMs.


Shopping for groceries in Korea is much easier than most people assume. All Korean cities will have numerous outdoor markets offering fresh products, seafood, and other Korean favorites. The food within these markets is quite cheap and offers a decent alternative to the large franchised food chains. The large corporate grocery stores such as HomePlus, Lotte Mart and E-Mart have a wide range of products that will provide westerners with food options similar to western style supermarkets. They offer the delivery service as well.

It’s sometimes difficult to find western spices in Korea, however, condiments such as Heinz ketchup, French’s mustard, relish, salad dressings, mayonnaise, hot sauce, and other favorites are available in most of Korea’s large grocery stores.

Electronics & Heating

220 Voltage
Most houses in Korea use 220-volt electricity. If you want to use a 110-volt appliance, you will need a transformer to convert from 220 volts to 110 volts.

Koreans use gas for cooking. Cooking gas fittings may cause an explosion when not handled carefully. After every use, make sure to check if the fire is extinguished and the safety valve is closed.

There are many types of boilers, and they may consume oil, LPG, LNG city gas or briquettes. Electric heaters and electric mattresses are commonly used for household heating. In general, Koreans use floor heating system.


Korea’s tap water has been tested and proven to be safe for drinking. Water fees can differ depending on the amount and purpose of use. For example, households and office have different rates.

There are various ways to pay your bills. The most convenient method is through the automated deposit. An amount specified on the bill will be taken from the designated bank account.

It is the main energy source for most of the Korean homes. For most cases, gas is used not only for ondol system (floor-heating) but also for cooking stoves. All homes and building units in Korea have a gas meter where you can check the amount of gas being used on a regular basis.

Cable TV
Korea has four basic channels, KBS, MBC, SBS, and EBS. These channels are available everywhere in the country. Cable TV is affordable with basic cable package and complete cable package. Cable channels offer many programs in English with Korea subtitles, including movies, sports events or documentary movies. A wide range of cable packages is available with a variety of content and price.

Satellite TV
If you are interested in satellite TV, after receiving a satellite TV and receiver, you have access to up to 190 channels. Installation costs between nothing and KRW 30,000, depending on the program package.

Telephone and Mobile

KT, the now privatized telecom company, still has a monopoly on wired phones in Korea. You can apply for installation with a local telephone office by dialing 100 (the number of Korean Telecom (KT)) and fax a copy of your passport, alien registration card and bank account information. You can keep the same number if you move within the same KT telephone office district. However, you must change your number if you move outside the district.

Mobile service provider
KT Olleh: / Tel. 1588-8448
SK Telecom: / 1599-0011
LG U Plus: / 1544-0010

When you have lost your cell phone, you will need first to call the phone/mobile company that your phone was registered in and request a temporary cut-off of the service.


Korea is the world’s most wired country (per capita) for broadband (high speed) internet. Having an internet connection installed in your place is very easy. Monthly internet rates vary depending on the service and the service provider you choose to go with.

– KT Olleh: / Tel. 100
– SK Broadband: / Tel. 106
– LG U Plus: / Tel. 101

Domestic Help

One helper is allowed for a foreign investor (or a director of an FDI company). It is possible for one who has entered Korea on a C-3 visa to change her/his status to that of an F-1 (visit/family) visa. The helper will be asked to leave the country when her/his employment contract is terminated or canceled or when her employer loses his/her D-8

Let’s Have Fun


Seoul International Women’s Association:

American Chamber of Commerce: / Tel. 02-564-2040

British Chamber of Commerce: / Tel. 02-720-9407

Canadian Chamber of Commerce: / Tel. 02-554-0245~6

Seoul Japan Club: / Tel. 02-739-6962

EU Chamber of Commerce: / Tel. 02-725-9880

French Chamber of Commerce: / Tel. 02-2268-9505~7

Australian New Zealand Chamber of Commerce: / Tel. 02-889-8371

Need Help?

Useful Contacts


Police: 112
Fire Station & Medical Emergencies: 119
Tourist Advice: 1330
Dasan Call Center (civil complaints handling): 120

Copyright @ Asian Tigers Ltd • 15/1/2019

We make every effort to ensure the information contained in these destination guide is accurate and up-to-date. However, do keep in mind that the rules, regulations and other material in these guides change from time to time, so we cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions. We suggest that you contact the appropriate Asian Tigers office if you have any questions. They will be glad to help you.