Preparing for your move to Seoul


Almost everything you need is available in Korea. Some items may be harder to find or more expensive than at home however: fitted sheets in Korea may not fit your bed and sheet sets are very expensive; Korean mattresses tend to be hard so if you prefer a soft mattress, best to bring your own; you can find books (new and used) in Seoul and they can be ordered over the Internet but costs may be higher than you’re used to. Children’s books and games are sometimes hard to find.

Concerning clothes note that Asian and Western frame structures are not always the same, so Korean sizes may not fit you or your child well. Women may have particular difficulty. Bring an adequate supply of underwear. Koreans generally have small, narrow feet, so you’ll want to make sure you have a good supply of shoes and boots with you. Sports shoes, ski boots, etc. may be less expensive and fit better if purchased in your home country. Although there is an excellent selection of imported and local cosmetic products available in Korea your preferred shades may not be available. If you have any allergies, special dietary needs or sensitive skin, make sure you have an adequate supply of your special products. Some Western brands of toothpaste are available, as are some deodorants, etc., but usually at much higher prices than you might expect. Note that some products that are available over the counter in your home country may require a prescription in Korea.

If your appliances are not compatible with 220 volt wiring you will need transformers. Shower curtains can be found in some stores, but can be quite expensive and colour/style choices are limited. Vegetable peelers, potato mashers and other culturally specific kitchen utensils are very difficult to find in Korea!

Passport-sized photos will be needed for visas, your residency card (also family members), your company or school ID, club membership, etc. Such photos are easy to get done in Korea but having ten or so with you will save you some time and energy during the first hectic weeks.

Be sure to bring enough money with you to cover your needs for at least 6-8 weeks - at least the equivalent of W700,000 or W1 million (U$700 to U$1,000). Your employer may not pay you as early as previously indicated and even if you are paid in full at the end of four weeks (if you started at the first of the month) you may need to purchase supplies for your new flat, over and above food etc. It’s also a good idea to have access to back-up funds (credit card or access to an ATM in your home country). Bring certified copies your diploma(s) and/or transcript(s) with you, whether you are coming to Korea in search of a job or even if you already have one, since you may decide to change companies while you’re here.

Your cell phone is unlikely to work here. If yours DVD player doesn’t have a ‘region-free’ feature it may only be able to play DVD’s you’ve purchased from home.

Illegal drugs are not tolerated in Korea, even for personal use. Should you or a family member be caught by Korean police (neighbours and colleagues will turn you in!) your Embassy is unlikely to be able to do much to help. Take note that Korea operates on a “guilty until proven innocent” principle, and you may be in prison for the duration of your interrogation even if you’ve been falsely accused.

Update 17/05/2010


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