03 Jan 2017

10 Tips That Will Make You Life In Korea Easier


When you first get to South Korea your bosses, colleagues and friends will bombard you with tips. Most of those tips you’ll forget, or learn on your own. However, here are 10 tips that are bound to get you out of trouble sooner or later.

1. Kakao Pin

Kakao Messenger is a first day in Korea thing. This messaging app is so widely used that I m 99.9% sure everyone is on it. The Kakao Messenger app is constantly being developed and by now it includes many additions to what a normal messenger would have. One of those additions is the ability to send a pin, to a location on Kakao Maps.

To send a pin, first activate your GPS and then hit send. Accordingly, when you receive a pin, all you have to do is turn on your location services. The second step is to click on the circle in the upper left part of the screen. It will glow blue and it shows you your location on the map and how close you are to the (red) pin.
If you are looking for a place you can send yourself the location on Kakao, open it with Kakao Maps, then send yourself a pin.

You’ll never get lost again!

2. Kakao Taxi

Our friends from Kakao saved us again! Kakao Taxi is a taxi ordering app. You won’t be freezing on the street anymore trying to catch a taxi. Moreover, if you’re a foreigner and cannot speak Korea, the app lets you set your destination point. The app shows the location of the taxi and how long until it gets to you. When the taxi arrives, if you don’t speak Korean just say Kakao Taxi or show him the Kakao Taxi window on your phone.

This will also make it harder to for taxi drivers to scam you by taking you through a longer route. Also, if you forget something in the taxi you will be able to contact the taxi driver through the app.

3. Proxies

South Korea blocks a lot of foreign sites. The same government warning shows up whether you’re looking up smut or trying to access Pandora. There is a way to bypass this. Hola is a free proxy program. You can get it as an app on your phone, a desktop program or a browser extension/add-on.

Hola is the most popular one because it is free, but there are other for-pay VPN apps on the market. Happy surfing!


4. No Trash Bags On The Weekends

If you work all week until late or are simply too lazy to do the recycling and wait until weekends, think again… Stores are not allowed to sell trash bags on weekends. They do this in order to prevent overcrowding. However, you do not have to discard recyclable items such as paper, plastic, glass and tin in a government-issued trash bag. Any ol’ trash bag will do for them.

Moreover, if you live in a an apartment complex, you’re in luck! Apartment complexes tend to have gigantic sacks for collecting plastic bottles and right next you will see a giant pile of cardboard.

5. Smoking

South Korea has started fining its citizens for smoking in public places. If you, however, manage to find a place without all the menacing No Smoking posters, be sure not to throw your cigarette butt on the ground. There are some government workers – usually old men with a blue vest, a little hand, an ID tag hanging from their neck and a flip chart in their hands that plant themselves under CCTV and watch you like a hawk. Their outfit tips you off so you can pocket your cigarette butt.

The fine is 40.000 KRW if you pay in 24 hours and 80.000 KRW if paid after that grace period. You can pay fines online here.

6. Elders’ Seats

Time for some subway tip! The sets of three seats on both ends of subway cars are off limits! While generally assigned to parents with small children and pregnant ladies along with elders. Elders, however, dominate those seats. You can see them lining in front of the doors even if the previous train just left. They want that seat. If you look foreign they might cut you some slack but fingers crossed you don’t run into a xenophobic, shouty elder!

7. The Pink Seats

Last year celebrated the introduction of the pink seat, a seat assigned to the temporarily crippled as well as to the pregnant. You can feel free to take sit on it, but do stand up when you see someone with a disability, be it even temporary or a pregnant lady.

8. No Drinking On The Subway

These two tips are a no-brainer, but you’ll be surprised how many a foreigner got busted by the moral police. While drinking in public is both allowed and widely practiced in South Korea, subway trains are off limits. An elder might scold you or the whole train could give you the stink eye the entire journey. It also not advisable to take drinks on board, especially during rush hour. We know you need that coffee, but it will be hassle balancing yourself and your cup in a train as packed as a can of sardines.


9. Use Your T-Way Card To Pay In Convenience Stores

The next two tips are going to come in handy if you hate carrying cash. So far South Korea has been a haven to you on account of all locations accepting card as a payment method, we understand you. However, if you feel slightly hesitant to go out partying with your card on you – if you lose it you will have to go through the hell of Korean bureaucracy. Korean bureaucracy is the ancient equivalent of a public whipping.

You can always carry a budgeted amount of cash and charge your T-way card with enough money to buy you a convenience store meal, the mandatory beers to celebrate public drinking and the equivalent of a taxi fare home.

10. Use Your T-Way Card To Pay In Taxis

You heard that right, you can use your T-Way card to pay in taxis. Long gone are the days of having to carry cash and still have the taxi driver scowl at you for it not being in smaller change. Simply charge your card at a charging point and then swipe! You can find the charging points in the subway.

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