Moving to South Korea expat guide – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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South Korea is fast becoming a hub for foreigners. This economic powerhouse of Asia provides plenty of unique opportunities. If you’re flexible and open-minded, adjusting to the Korean way of life would be easy. For emigrants moving to South Korea for job contracts, there are many things to consider!
From getting a Visa to finding a lucrative job in Seoul, the benefits of moving to South Korea cannot be overemphasized. Besides, Korea is a land of extremes, so a little preparation before moving to this country will help you through the process. Also, Seoul is a crazy hubbub of lights and skyscrapers.
Aside from that, you can expect to see a blend of tradition and globalization in South Korea. In fact, the gigantic malls, temples, and cute cafes are no exception to making your journey awesome. Guess what! Seoul is a vibrant and fashionable city of advanced technology that owns the tastiest food in the world.
There are many facts about South Korea that you’ll need to know before moving to a beautiful country. For example, giving gifts items with red writing implies death, drawing parallels between the Korean culture to Japan, and many others. At the same time, you must not underestimate their knowledge.
Now, are you ready to explore the cities in South Korea? Or you want to relocate permanently? Does that sound like a YES? Interesting! That’s why we’ve compiled this article to meet your requirements and give you the most effortless relocation ever. So, let’s get it started as we unleash all that you need to know.
South Korea Travel Tips That’d Help You
Before we move into the cultural background, national public holidays, and many other things to know about South Korea, let’s quickly walk you through some travel tips. These tips will help you not look like a stranger or tourist. Without further ado, let’s begin the process to know more about South Korea.
Understand the Stereotypes
A stereotype is a widely held image or idea of a particular person. While you’re moving to South Korea for the first time, always know the stereotype and actively act against them. Sometimes, many foreigners would have imbibed a lousy view of your personality because of your country.
A good example is when the citizens imagined that all foreigners are loud, have lots of tattoos, and only speak the worse English language. Aside from this fact, there is a bevy of other stereotypes, but the ones above are what you should be aware of when visiting South Korea for the first time.
Maintain a Good Reputation
As I mentioned above, Koreans believed that foreigners are loud. This is because; the sound of foreign languages sticks out more. Meanwhile, yelling in public is generally acceptable in other countries. But, in South Korea, you have to maintain a good reputation and avoid confrontation.
By doing this, your stay in the country will be a peaceful one. Moreover, always understand that Koreans don’t take it kindly to be yelled at or ignored. To them, it’s a sign of disrespect, and this behavior may get you booted out or denied. More so, they won’t yell at you if you’re doing bad things.
Hang Out in a Safe Place
During your visit to South Korea, it would be better to hang out where locals do. If you want your Korea itinerary to take you off the beaten path, moving along with citizens in a popular destination is the best way. For example, if you want cheap food in Hongdae, checking the neighboring Mangwon is the best.
Avoid Tight Clothes and Dress Conservatively
A good rule of thumb in South Korea is to wear a conservative dress and avoid tight clothes. This is because; Korean styles are basically the opposite of those in North America and Europe. For women, wearing shorts and a long shirt is all the rage, rather than putting on leggings or pants. This means that showing your cleavage or even collarbones in South Korea is against their tradition.
Taking Off Your Shoes
Taking off your shoes is primarily standard in Korean restaurants, temples, museums, guesthouses, tea houses, and many others. Aside from this fact, it’s pretty common to remove your shoes throughout Asia in religious spaces. So, don’t be afraid to take off your shoes before entering local-style restaurants.
Yelling in Restaurants
Just as we mentioned earlier that yelling isn’t a good thing in South Korea. Conversely, the only place that you’re free to yell is in restaurants. Here, you can yell at yourself, the server, and even your meal mates. For the latter, yelling in this country (restaurant) is only acceptable for grabbing people’s attention.
Remember Seoul Is NOT Your City
When you’re relocating to South Korea, always know that things just run differently here. In fact, don’t be surprised if you see teenagers drinking alcohol in the city or a packed subway car being completely silent. Besides, be aware that Korea is one of the most homogenous cities in the world.
That being said, the result also revealed that it has less than 10 percent of foreigners in its population. Also, most of the foreigners are Chinese. So, be wary of the dos and don’t before planning to relocate to this country.
Why Living in South Korea (Seoul) is Awesome
If you’ve been thinking about moving to South Korea, you might just be making one of the best decisions to brace your life. Obviously, we have a list of reasons why living in South Korea might be interesting for you. In no doubt, their cultures and traditions, natures, public transportation, and many others will be of interest to you. Without further ado, below are the reasons why this country is fantastic.
- Korea Internet Connection
One of the first reasons why this country is awesome is because of the internet connection. Here in South Korea, you will be spoiled by super fast internet speeds. In fact, within a couple of minutes, you can download large music albums, programs, movies, and more from Korea-based servers or other domains.
- Cost of Living in South Korea
Living in South Korea can be very affordable if you’re looking to save money. If you manage to get a job in this country, many organizations or companies will definitely look for housing. It’s not just a huge money saver but an opportunity to own an apartment in the long run. Moreover, if you’d love to rent an apartment, rent can go for like 300 000 won for small studio apartments.
- Affordable Transportation
Public transportation in Seoul is quite affordable compared to other countries like the UK and the United States. The 1,050 won (approximately $1) base fare is the envy of commuters in other major cities, including expensive transportation costs. However, public transportation in Seoul is convenient, and you can get to every corner of the country with an affordable and safe public transportation system.
- Food in South Korea
It should be noted that Korea is not home to any 3-star Michelin restaurants. But, this doesn’t mean Korean foods are bad. You can go to an average restaurant in this country, and you’ll enjoy yourself with their delicious meal. For example, kimchi jjigae and seolleongtang will make you feel as if you grew up with a Korean grandma.
Aside from that, the foods are affordable to everyone in the country (both indigenes and foreigners). That way, you can get lunch and dinner for as low as 6 000 won, including a good amount of vegetables and meat. That’s why you should have it in mind that living in this country will likely change your diet.
- Korea is a Safe Place
Generally, Korea is safe. Although there are theft, rape, and other related crimes, just like in other countries, but it’s not very common. Besides, many people can leave their gadgets like laptops and mobile phones while going to the bathroom with complete faith that their devices will be safe.
Cultural Etiquette in South Korea
In South Korea, bowing is the traditional greeting, and a handshake often accompanies it among the men. Moreover, if you want to show a sign of respect while shaking your hands, you’ll need to support your right forearm with your left hand. Without further ado, let’s break the process down.
Body Language in South Korea
It’s a personal violation in the South Korean tradition to be touched by someone who is not their relative or close friends. Direct eye contact with senior and junior business people is avoided because it indicates impoliteness or challenges in the long run.
Names/Titles in Seoul
In South Korea, it is considered very impolite or wrong to address people with their given names. This means you’ll need to address them using appropriate professional tiles until they are specifically invited by your host to address them by their given Korean name. Americans in South Korea should address the citizens with Mr., Mrs., and Miss, but never address a high-ranking person in such a way.
Entertainment and Corporate Culture
Korean find tipping offensive, so whenever you see a ‘No Tipping’ sign, don’t tip except you want to do that in a Western hotel. Aside from this fact, sharing dinner is vital to building a solid relationship that fosters trust among the citizens. Similarly, Koreans dress well, and you should dress accordingly, too.
Korean People and Ethics
Since we know that Korea is one of the most homogeneous countries globally, they have their languages, cuisine, and others that made them different from other countries. Koreans are proud of their traditional culture and modern achievements. Besides, education in this country is highly valued.
South Korea Cost of Living (2021 Updated)
There’s no denying fact that the cost of living in South Korea is quite expensive. Indeed, the capital city known as Seoul has been frequently ranked as one of the world’s costly cities to live in today’s 21st century. In fact, as of 2020, Seoul was ranked as the 11th out of 209 cities in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey.
However, this country boasts competitive salaries, as employment contracts with citizens and foreigners cover accommodation, and schooling, saving a lot of expat money. Conversely, there are many ways to keep expenses down as transportation and food are cheaper than Western life.
In addition, it’s also worth bearing in mind that price between cities and smaller towns will differ, but the cost of living in the central city is higher than in others. With that being said, let’s walk you through some of the costs of accommodation in South Korea.
Cost of Electrical and Household Goods
Electrical appliances such as television, digital cameras, computers, and other high-tech gadgets are relatively affordable in South Korea. On the other hand, foreign manufactured goods may be pretty expensive.
Healthcare System in South Korea
When it comes to the healthcare system in South Korea, the prices are more affordable compared to the Western countries. Also, the National Health Insurance Program is compulsory for emigrants as they are responsible for their health. In fact, they pay half of the amount, and you’ll balance it up in the long run.
Food in South Korea
As mentioned earlier, foodstuffs in South Korea are very affordable. Most of the foods that are taken for granted in the western communities, such food will generally cost more in South Korea. Overall, dining out is inexpensive when you stick to Korean food. But if you want to switch to other dishes, it may come with a higher price tag.
|Accommodation in South Korea (per month)||Price Tags|
|One-bedroom apartment in the city||KRW 900,000 – 1,200,000|
|Three-bedroom apartment in the city||KRW 1,900,000 – 3,000,000|
|One-bedroom apartment outside the city||KRW 600,000 – KRW 700,000|
|Three-bedroom apartment outside the city||KRW 1,200,000 – 1,400,000|
|Shopping in South Korea||Price Tags|
|Eggs (dozen) and Milk (1 liter)||KRW 3,505 – KRW 2,565|
|Rice (1kg) and Loaf of white brad||KRW 5,200 – KRW 3,000 respectively|
|Chicken breasts (1kg) and a pack of cigarettes||KRW 11,130 and KRW 4,500|
|Eating Out in Korea||Price Tags|
|Big Mac Meal and Coca-Cola (330ml)||KRW 6,500 – KRW1,780|
|Cappuccino and Local beer (500ml)||KRW 4,750 – KRW 4,000|
|Utilities in South Korea||Price Tags|
|Mobile-to-mobile call rate and internet per month||KRW 145 – KRW 27,150|
|Basic utilities in a small apartment||KRW 202,000 –KRW 230,000|
|Taxi rate (per kilometer) and Bus Fare||KRW760 – KRW1,250|
|Petrol and gasoline per liter in South Korea||KRW 1,600 and above|
Cost of living chart in South Korea
National Public Holidays in South Korea
|Date Observed||Name of the Holidays||Types of Holiday|
|1st of January||New Year’s Day||Public Holiday In SK|
|11th – 13th of February||Seollal Holiday||Public Holiday In SK|
|14th of February||Valentine’s day||Observance in SK|
|1st of March||Independence Movement Day||National Holiday in SK|
|20th of March||March Equinox||Seasonal celebration|
|1st of May||Labor Day||Official Bank Holiday|
|5th of May||Children’s day||Public Holiday|
|8th of May||Parent’s day||Observance in SK|
|15th of May||Teacher’s Day||Observance in SK|
|15th of August||Liberation Day||National public holiday|
|21st of September||Chuseok Holiday||Public Holiday in SK|
Aside from the ones listed above, there are other national public holidays observed in South Korea today. They include; Armed Forced day, national foundation day, constitution day, memorial day, Buddha’s Birthday, December Solstice, Hangeul Proclamation, and many others, to mention a few.
Visa Application in South Korea
Just like other countries, South Korea has many visa types that can grant you a temporary or permanent stay in the country. The work permit visa alone in South Korea has at least eight different sub-categories. However, these visa types depend on skilled workers and the jobs you want, as you can also start a business here. Meanwhile, they are available for expat looking to relocate.
Things to Know About Work Permit
South Korea most commonly used visa include short-term employment visa, foreign investment visa, corporate resident/company assignment, trade management visa, specific job visa, as well as professional visa. Some of the things to know about visa permits in South Korea include the following.
- Work visa in South Korea will cost you $400, and you can also explore the market to know the price range from the immigration website
- Every foreigner that comes to the country to stay more than 90 days must register with the local immigration pending the time to visit South Korea
- The visa application in this country is known as consul recommendations to allow foreigners to enter the country
- The ministry of justice must discuss your application with the agency that represents you to determine whether your visa would be processed or not
- After getting your application, the ministry of justice will issue a certificate of confirmation of visa issuance in the embassy
- Foreigners cannot enter the country without the visa application being processed
- The country’s (South Korea) visa application is valid within three months after approval.
Finding Jobs Remotely in South Korea
This is one of the best ways to relocate to the land of the morning calm. Although having a job not only guarantees you a visa but will definitely help you integrate into the country and start meeting travel experts. For native Koreans, the job market has been quite good in recent years. Moreover, this country has boasted Asia’s fourth-largest economy by finding adequate placement for the workforce.
Expat, on the other hand, will have a bit easier time finding jobs remotely in South Korea. This is largely because, as the country gains an international reputation, many multinational companies have their headquarters in the country. Besides, foreigners are being welcomed only into the job market.
Furthermore, with a mixture of beautiful coastlines, lush mountains, and excellent cities, South Korea is becoming an increasingly popular destination for expat. If you’re one of the many people wondering how to get a visa in South Korea, this guide will walk you through the steps needed to get a remote job.
If you’re likely to move to Korea before finding a job, there are many job websites you can use. Some of these platforms include; JobKorea, Suramin, PeopleNjob, and many others, to mention a few. In addition to these, you can also use job searches such as Craigslist, Linkedin, Fiverr, and others to find a job.
Newspapers in Korea
While this may seem like an old method of finding jobs, it’s far better than other websites. Therefore, you can check through newspapers such as The Korea Herald, The Korea Times, The Seoul Times, and many more to find the best job opportunities in South Korea.
Annual Job Fair
Just like the Chinese job fair, South Korea also hosts an annual job fair that focuses specifically on foreigners. These job fairs will typically be split into two categories known as; job fairs for international students and job fairs for international residents. With these two annual job fair searches, you can expect the best.
Several Tips for Landing Jobs in South Korea
- Resume and Curriculum Vitae Tips – South Korea has a specific CV style. So, if you’re relocating to this country, you should draft your CV that’d match a neighboring country’s format like Japan. In general, fill your information to match the Korean grading system.
- Interview in Korea – If you’re going for an interview in Korea, you should arrive as early as 10-15 minutes before compared to your home country. This will show that you’re ready for the job or get your visa ready and processed on time even while applying for your visa application.
- Wages and Salaries in South Korea – Throughout the expat community, South Korea has a reputation for paying salaries to its citizens. However, this reputation comes from foreign teachers who are given expat packages to relocate to the country. The average wage in South Korea is KRW 44,812,260, which is approximately $38,000 per year.
Life in Korea provides plenty of unique opportunities for emigrants. So, before moving to Korea, learn about health insurance, visa applications, relocation guide, and job opportunities as explained in this article. Nonetheless, always know that South Korea is the ideal destination if you’re keen to discover new cultures and traditions.