Everything You Need to Know When Relocating to Korea in 2024

Korea, a captivating country of enchanting beauty and rich cultural heritage, offers an unparalleled destination for relocation. With its thriving economy, well-developed infrastructure, and the perfect blend of ancient traditions and modern advancements, Korea provides plenty of opportunities for those seeking new adventures. From the buzzing streets of Seoul, where towering skyscrapers coexist with historic palaces, to the serene beauty of natural wonders like Jeju Island, Korea truly has something for everyone. Its warm and welcoming locals, delicious cuisine, and deep-rooted appreciation for art and technology further enhance the allure of this remarkable country.

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What It’s Like to Live in Korea

Living in Korea can be a unique and enriching experience, offering a blend of traditional and modern elements. Here are some aspects to consider:

  1. Culture and Tradition: Korea has a rich cultural heritage with influences from Confucianism, Buddhism, and more. Traditional practices like tea ceremonies, hanbok (traditional clothing), and traditional performances coexist with modern trends.
  2. Technology and Innovation: Korea is known for its technological advancements. Cities like Seoul are modern and equipped with high-speed internet, cutting-edge technology, and efficient public transportation.
  3. Language: Korean is the official language, and while English is taught in schools, proficiency can vary. In major cities, you may find English speakers, especially in areas frequented by tourists and expatriates.
  4. Cuisine: Korean cuisine is diverse and delicious. Popular dishes include kimchi, bulgogi, bibimbap, and various types of banchan (side dishes). Food culture is an essential aspect of socializing, and sharing meals is common.
  5. Work Culture: Work culture in Korea is often characterized by long working hours, a strong emphasis on teamwork, and hierarchical structures. However, efforts are being made to address work-life balance, especially in certain industries and among younger generations.
  6. Education: Korea places significant emphasis on education, and the competition can be intense. The country is known for its rigorous education system, with a focus on academic achievement.
  7. Cost of Living: The cost of living can vary depending on the city. Seoul, for example, can be relatively expensive, but there are also affordable options available. Housing, transportation, and food costs are key factors to consider.
  8. Healthcare: Korea has a well-developed healthcare system, with modern facilities and skilled medical professionals. Expatriates may choose to use the public healthcare system or opt for private healthcare services.
  9. Public Transportation: Public transportation in Korea is efficient, including subways, buses, and trains. This makes it easy to navigate cities and travel across the country.
  10. Social Etiquette: Korean society places importance on respect and politeness. Bowing is a common form of greeting, and age and hierarchical relationships are often considered in social interactions.

Ultimately, the experience of living in Korea can vary depending on individual preferences, lifestyle, and the specific location within the country. Many people find the blend of traditional values and modern amenities in Korea to be a fascinating and rewarding aspect of their lives.

Cultural Differences

When living in Korea as a foreigner, several cultural differences may be encountered. Being aware of and respecting these cultural nuances can help navigate daily life more smoothly. Here are some major cultural differences to consider:

  1. Hierarchy and Respect: Korean culture places a strong emphasis on hierarchy and respect for elders. It’s common to use honorifics in language and to bow as a sign of respect, especially when greeting someone older or in a higher position.
  2. Group Orientation: Korean society values group harmony and collective success. This is reflected in the workplace, where teamwork is crucial. Decision-making often involves group consensus, and individual achievements are considered within the context of the group.
  3. Social Drinking Culture: Drinking is a significant part of Korean social culture, and there may be expectations to participate in after-work gatherings with colleagues. It’s important to be aware of drinking etiquette, including pouring drinks for others and accepting drinks graciously.
  4. Work-Life Balance: While the traditional work culture in Korea has been associated with long working hours, there is a growing awareness of the importance of work-life balance, especially among younger generations. However, some industries and workplaces may still have demanding schedules.
  5. Face and Saving Face: “Face” (or “kibun,” which means “feeling” in Korean) is crucial in Korean culture. Maintaining one’s dignity and avoiding embarrassment is essential. Criticizing or correcting someone publicly may cause them to lose face, so communication is often indirect.
  6. Gift-Giving: Gift-giving is a common practice in Korea, and it’s a way to express gratitude or goodwill. When receiving a gift, it’s polite to show humility and not open it immediately. Additionally, it’s common to reciprocate with a gift of similar value.
  7. Silence in Communication: Silence can have different meanings in Korean communication. It may indicate agreement, contemplation, or discomfort. It’s essential to be attuned to non-verbal cues and to respect moments of silence in conversations.
  8. Shoes Indoors: It’s customary to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home or certain indoor spaces. Slippers may be provided for guests.
  9. Public Behavior: Public behavior is often conservative. Loud conversations or public displays of affection may be less common than in some Western cultures.
  10. Tipping: Tipping is not a common practice in Korea (tips expected in some beauty salons or massage places, however). Exceptional service is often rewarded by saying “thank you” rather than offering a tip.

By understanding and respecting these cultural differences, you can build positive relationships and navigate daily life more comfortably while living in Korea. Keep in mind that experiences may vary, and embracing cultural differences can lead to a more enriching and enjoyable stay.


In Korea, the Korean language is spoken. Korea also has its own alphabet used throughout the country, as well as in some African countries that have chosen to adopt the Korean Alphabet for their use. English is taught in schools, and currently, an increasing number of people speak both Korean and English or at least understand English in addition to the Korean language. Some other languages, such as French, Japanese, and Chinese, are learned by Korean people who wish to communicate more effectively in the global context.

Economy and Job Market

In 2023, the GDP growth in Korea showed a 1.4% increase, which is far lower than in the past. This is mainly due to a high interest rate led by the US interest rate. Additionally, there was a low consumption rate impacted by the high interest rate, and the unemployment rate increased from 2.7% to 3.0%. The 2024 forecast is a bit more optimistic due to increased exports, but we don’t foresee a significant improvement at once. (source: KDI, KDI Journal www.kdi.re.kr)


Cost of Living

The cost of living in Korea can vary depending on the city, lifestyle, and personal spending habits. Generally, Korea is considered to have a moderate cost of living, but some areas, particularly Seoul, can be relatively expensive. Here are some aspects to consider when comparing the cost of living in Korea to other countries:

  1. Housing: Housing costs, including rent and utilities, can be a significant expense. In major cities like Seoul, housing tends to be more expensive compared to smaller cities and rural areas.
  2. Food: The cost of groceries and dining out can vary. Cooking at home is generally more cost-effective, but eating out at restaurants can be affordable, especially if you choose local options.
  3. Transportation: Public transportation in Korea is efficient and relatively affordable. The cost of owning a car, including fuel and parking, can be higher. In some countries, public transportation might be more or less expensive.
  4. Healthcare: Healthcare in Korea is of high quality, and costs are generally lower compared to countries like the United States. Expatriates may opt for the public healthcare system or private insurance.
  5. Education: If you have children attending international schools, education costs can be a significant factor. Tuition fees for international schools in Korea can be relatively high.
  6. Entertainment and Leisure: Costs for entertainment, leisure activities, and cultural events can vary. Movie tickets, concert prices, and recreational activities may be comparable or slightly lower than in some Western countries.
  7. Communication: The cost of mobile phone plans and internet services in Korea is competitive, and the quality of service is high.

It’s essential to consider your specific lifestyle, housing choices, and personal preferences when comparing the cost of living in Korea to other countries. Additionally, exchange rates and economic conditions can impact the relative affordability of expatriates.

Many expatriates find that while certain aspects of the cost of living may be higher in Korea, the overall quality of life and the amenities available contribute to a positive living experience. It’s advisable to research and plan your budget accordingly based on your individual circumstances and priorities.


The average lifestyle in Korea can vary based on factors such as location, age, occupation, and individual preferences. However, a general overview of aspects that often characterize the average lifestyle in Korea may be as below described:

  1. Work Culture: Korea has historically had a strong work ethic, and long working hours have been common, especially in certain industries. However, there is a growing awareness of the importance of work-life balance, particularly among younger generations. The work culture often emphasizes teamwork, and company loyalty is valued.
  2. Housing: Urban areas, especially Seoul, have a mix of modern apartments and traditional housing. Living spaces can be relatively small compared to Western standards, and it’s common for families to live in apartment complexes. In rural areas, traditional housing styles may be more prevalent.
  3. Transportation: Public transportation, including subways, buses, and trains, is well-developed and widely used. Many people rely on public transport for daily commuting. In urban areas, owning a car may be less common due to traffic congestion and the efficiency of public transportation.
  4. Food: Korean cuisine is diverse and plays a significant role in daily life. Meals often include rice, soup, and various side dishes (banchan). Eating out is common, with a wide range of options from street food stalls to upscale restaurants. Sharing meals is a social activity, and group dining is common.
  5. Social Life: Socializing is an integral part of Korean culture. People often gather for meals, celebrations, and recreational activities. Drinking is a common social activity, and after-work gatherings are prevalent, especially in professional settings.
  6. Education: Education is highly valued in Korea, and there is a strong emphasis on academic achievement. The education system is rigorous, and students often face intense competition.
  7. Technology: Korea is known for its technological advancements, and access to high-speed internet and cutting-edge technology is widespread. Smartphones and other tech devices are commonly used in daily life.
  8. Cultural Activities: Koreans appreciate cultural activities such as traditional performances, music, and art. Cultural events and festivals are held throughout the year, providing opportunities for entertainment and community engagement.
  9. Healthcare: Korea has a well-developed healthcare system with modern facilities and skilled medical professionals. Access to healthcare is generally convenient, and preventive care is emphasized.
  10. Fashion and Beauty: Koreans are known for their interest in fashion and beauty trends. The beauty and skincare industry is particularly prominent, and there is a strong emphasis on personal grooming.

It’s important to note that individual lifestyles can vary widely, and younger generations may embrace more modern and globalized lifestyles. Additionally, urban areas may offer a more fast-paced and cosmopolitan lifestyle compared to rural areas.

Healthcare Services

Korea has a well-developed healthcare system with modern facilities and highly trained medical professionals. The healthcare services in Korea are generally of high quality, and medical technology is advanced. Here are some key aspects of healthcare services in Korea and what foreigners can expect:

  1. Public and Private Healthcare: Korea has both public and private healthcare facilities. Public healthcare is available to everyone, and foreigners can use the public system by enrolling in the National Health Insurance (NHI) program. Private healthcare facilities often offer more amenities and may have English-speaking staff.
  2. National Health Insurance (NHI): Foreign residents in Korea are typically required to enroll in the National Health Insurance program, which provides coverage for medical services. The cost of NHI is relatively affordable, and it helps cover a significant portion of medical expenses.
  3. Medical Facilities: Major cities in Korea, especially Seoul, have modern hospitals and clinics equipped with state-of-the-art medical technology. The quality of medical care is generally high, and many medical professionals receive training both domestically and internationally.
  4. English-Speaking Services: In larger cities and at major medical facilities, it’s common to find staff, including doctors and nurses, who can communicate in English. However, in smaller towns or rural areas, English proficiency may be less common.
  5. Specialized Care: Korea has specialists in various medical fields, and patients can access a wide range of specialized healthcare services. The country is known for its expertise in areas such as plastic surgery and dermatology.
  6. Prescription Medications: Prescription medications are widely available, and pharmacies are common. In many cases, doctors can prescribe medications during a clinic visit, and patients can obtain them at an on-site or nearby pharmacy.
  7. Preventive Care: There is an emphasis on preventive care in Korea. Regular health check-ups are common, and individuals are encouraged to undergo screenings for various health conditions.
  8. Emergency Services: Emergency medical services are accessible, and there are well-equipped emergency rooms in major hospitals. The emergency response system is efficient.
  9. Medical Tourism: Korea has become a popular destination for medical tourism, attracting visitors seeking various medical procedures, including cosmetic surgery and dental work.

It’s important for foreigners living in Korea to familiarize themselves with the healthcare system, the National Health Insurance program, and the medical facilities available in their area. It’s also recommended to have comprehensive health insurance that covers any additional medical expenses not covered by the National Health Insurance. Overall, foreigners can expect a high standard of healthcare services in Korea, especially in urban areas.

Educational System

The educational system in Korea is known for its high academic standards and rigorous curriculum. For expat children, there are various educational options, including international schools, local schools, and homeschooling. Here’s an overview of the educational system in Korea and considerations for expat children:

  1. International Schools: Many expatriate families in Korea choose to enroll their children in international schools. These schools follow foreign curricula, such as the American, British, or International Baccalaureate (IB) programs. They often offer education in English and provide a familiar academic environment for expat children. International schools are available in major cities like Seoul and Busan.
  2. Local Public Schools: While the majority of Korean public schools teach in Korean, some may offer programs for non-Korean-speaking students. However, expat children may face language barriers and cultural differences in these settings. In recent years, there have been efforts to make Korean public schools more accessible for non-Korean students, but the level of English instruction may vary.
  3. Language Support Programs: Some schools, both international and local, offer language support programs for non-native speakers. These programs aim to help students adapt to the language of instruction and the local educational environment.
  4. Homeschooling: Homeschooling is another option for expat families who prefer a more flexible and personalized approach to education. Families can follow their home country’s curriculum or choose an international homeschooling program.
  5. Curriculum and Academic Pressure: The Korean education system places a strong emphasis on academic achievement, and students often face intense competition. This can lead to a demanding and high-pressure environment. International schools may provide a more balanced approach to education, focusing on both academics and extracurricular activities.
  6. Extracurricular Activities: Both international and local schools in Korea often offer a variety of extracurricular activities, including sports, arts, and cultural programs. These activities can contribute to a well-rounded education and help expat children integrate into the local community.
  7. University Entrance Exams: In Korea, university entrance exams are highly significant, and students prepare intensively for these exams. While this may not be immediately relevant to expatriate children, it’s a notable aspect of the broader educational culture.

Before relocating, expat families should thoroughly research and consider their educational options. Factors such as the language of instruction, curriculum, cultural adaptation, and the availability of support services should be taken into account. Many expatriates find that international schools provide a smoother transition for their children, offering a curriculum in their native language and a diverse community of students from different backgrounds.


Legal Considerations When Moving to Korea

When moving to Korea, there are several legal considerations that expatriates should be aware of to ensure a smooth transition and compliance with local laws. Here are some major legal considerations:

  1. Visa and Immigration: Ensure that you have the appropriate visa for your stay in Korea. Visas are required for most foreigners entering the country, and the type of visa depends on the purpose of your stay (e.g., work, study, tourism). Make sure to check the specific requirements and application procedures through the Korean embassy or consulate in your home country.
  2. Residence Registration: After arriving in Korea, you must register your residence within 90 days. This process is known as Alien Registration or the new Korean Resident Registration System (KRRS). This applies to all foreigners staying in Korea for more than 90 days, and it is considered part of the visa process.
  3. Health Insurance: It is mandatory for all residents in Korea, including expatriates, to have health insurance. If you are employed, your employer typically helps you enroll in the National Health Insurance (NHI) program. If you’re self-employed or not covered by an employer, you need to arrange health insurance through the NHI or private insurance.
  4. Taxes: Understand your tax obligations in Korea. Expatriates are generally subject to Korean income tax on their worldwide income if they reside in Korea for 183 days or more in a tax year. Consult with a tax professional to ensure compliance with local tax laws.
  5. Labor Laws: If you are moving to Korea for work, familiarize yourself with Korean labor laws, which may be somewhat strict compared to other countries. These laws cover working hours, wages, benefits, and other employment-related matters. Employment contracts should be reviewed carefully before signing.
  6. Education for Children: If you have school-age children, consider the educational options available. Research international schools, local public schools, and language support programs to determine the best fit for your child’s education.
  7. Banking and Financial Matters: Open a local bank account, which is often required for various transactions and services. Familiarize yourself with local banking regulations and currency exchange procedures.
  8. Driving in Korea: If you plan to drive in Korea, make sure to obtain a valid Korean driver’s license. Some countries have agreements with Korea allowing for a straightforward exchange of licenses, while others may require a driving test.
  9. Cultural and Social Etiquette: While not strictly legal, understanding and respecting local cultural norms and social etiquette are crucial for a smooth transition. This includes being aware of bowing customs, addressing people appropriately, and observing social norms in various settings.
  10. Contractual Agreements: If entering into rental agreements, employment contracts, or other legal arrangements, carefully review the terms and conditions. Consider seeking legal advice, especially if documents are not in your native language.

It’s advisable to consult with legal and immigration professionals, as well as local authorities, to ensure that you are well-informed about the specific legal requirements and regulations applicable to your situation.

Process of Acquiring Work Visas for Professionals and Their Families

Acquiring a work visa in Korea involves a series of steps, and the process can vary depending on the type of visa and the individual’s specific circumstances. Below is a general overview of the process for acquiring work visas for professionals and their families in Korea:

  1. Job Offer and Employment Contract:
    • Secure a job offer from a Korean employer. The employer will provide you with an employment contract that includes details about your position, salary, and other terms of employment.
  2. Employer’s Approval and Application:
    • Your employer in Korea must apply for a work visa approval from the Korean Ministry of Justice. This involves submitting required documents, including the employment contract, a letter of appointment, and other relevant paperwork.
  3. Visa Issuance Confirmation:
    • Once the work visa approval is granted, the Korean employer will receive a Visa Issuance Confirmation (VIC) number. This number is essential for the visa application process.
  4. Visa Application:
    • With the VIC number, you can apply for a work visa at the Korean embassy or consulate in your home country. You’ll need to submit the required documents, which typically include the visa application form, passport, passport-sized photos, the VIC number, and other supporting documents.
  5. Health Check:
    • In some cases, depending on the length of stay and type of work, you may be required to undergo a health checkup. The specific requirements can vary, so check with the Korean embassy or consulate for details.
  6. Visa Issuance:
    • After completing the application process and meeting all requirements, the Korean embassy or consulate will issue the work visa in your passport. The type of visa will depend on your employment status and the nature of your work.
  7. Alien Registration:
    • Within 90 days of arriving in Korea, you must register your residence at a local immigration office. This process includes obtaining an Alien Registration Card (ARC), which is a crucial identification document for foreigners staying in Korea for an extended period.

For Family Members:

  • If you plan to bring family members, your employer will need to indicate this on the work visa application. Once in Korea, family members can apply for dependent visas, which are tied to the primary visa holder’s status.

It’s important to note that visa requirements and processes can change, so it’s advisable to check with the Korean embassy or consulate in your home country for the most up-to-date information. Additionally, consulting with your employer’s human resources department or seeking legal assistance can help ensure a smooth visa application process for professionals and their families.

Processes for Setting Up a New Business or a Branch of an Existing Company

Setting up a new business or a branch of an existing company in Korea involves several steps. The specific requirements can vary depending on the type of business and the industry. Here’s a general overview of the process:

For Setting Up a New Business:

  1. Business Registration:
    • Choose a business structure (e.g., corporation, limited liability company) and register your business with the Korean government. This involves obtaining a Business Registration Number (BRN) from the local court Registration Department.
  2. Bank Account:
    • Open a business bank account in the name of the registered business entity. This account will be used for financial transactions related to the business.
  3. Tax Registration:
    • Register for taxes with the National Tax Service (NTS). This includes obtaining a Value Added Tax (VAT) number and fulfilling other tax-related requirements.
  4. Employer Registration:
    • If you plan to hire employees, register as an employer with the Korea Employment Information Service (KEIS). This involves obtaining an employer identification number.
  5. Social Insurance Registration:
    • Register for social insurance with the National Health Insurance Corporation (NHIC) and the National Pension Service (NPS) if you have employees.
  6. Foreign Investment Approval (if applicable):
    • In some cases, depending on the industry and the level of foreign investment, you may need to obtain approval from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE).
  7. Business License:
    • If you want to conduct a profit-making business, you need to obtain a business license. This will have to be applied for at your jurisdiction tax office. Details may differ by industry, and further consultation with the authorities concerned may be needed for this process.

For Setting Up a Branch of an Existing Company:

  1. Approval from the Headquarters:
    • Obtain approval from the headquarters of the existing company to establish a branch in Korea. This may involve submitting documentation about the branch’s purpose, activities, and financial plans.
  2. Register as a Foreign Branch:
    • Register the foreign branch with the Korean government. This involves obtaining a Business Registration Number (BRN) from the local court Registration Department.
  3. Bank Account:
    • Open a business bank account for the branch in Korea. This account will be used for financial transactions related to the branch’s operations.
  4. Tax Registration:
    • Register the branch for taxes with the National Tax Service (NTS). This includes obtaining a Value Added Tax (VAT) number and fulfilling other tax-related requirements.
  5. Social Insurance Registration (if applicable):
    • If the branch has employees, register for social insurance with the National Health Insurance Corporation (NHIC) and the National Pension Service (NPS).
  6. Business License (if applicable):
    • Certain industries may require additional licenses or permits. Check with the relevant government authorities to ensure compliance with industry-specific regulations.
  7. Foreign Investment Approval (if applicable):
    • Depending on the nature of the branch’s activities and the level of foreign investment, you may need to obtain approval from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE).

It’s important to note that the process and requirements may change, so it’s advisable to consult with legal and business professionals in Korea to ensure compliance with the latest regulations and to navigate the specific requirements for your business.

Requirements for Permanent Residency or Citizenship

The requirements for permanent residency (PR) and citizenship in Korea can vary based on the type of visa and the individual’s circumstances. It’s essential to note that immigration laws and policies can change, so it’s recommended to check with the relevant authorities or consult with legal professionals for the most up-to-date information. Here’s a general overview:

Permanent Residency (F-5 Visa):

  1. Residence Period:
    • Generally, you need to have lived in Korea for a certain number of consecutive years with a qualifying visa (such as an E-category visa for employment or a D-category visa for residence).
  2. Income and Financial Stability:
    • You may need to demonstrate a stable income and financial capability to support yourself. This could include proof of employment, tax payments, and financial stability.
  3. Language Proficiency:
    • Depending on the visa type and other factors, you may be required to pass a Korean language proficiency test.
  4. Contribution to Korean Society:
    • Factors such as contributions to Korean society, cultural integration, and community involvement may be considered.
  5. No Criminal Record:
    • Applicants are typically required to provide a certificate of no criminal record.
  6. Health Examination:
    • A health examination may be required to ensure that the applicant is in good health.
  7. Documentation:
    • Various documents, including application forms, proof of residence, and supporting documents, will be required.

Citizenship (Naturalization):

  1. Residence Period:
    • The residence period for naturalization is typically longer than that for permanent residency. You need to have lived in Korea for a certain number of consecutive years.
  2. Fulfillment of Legal Obligations:
    • Applicants must fulfill legal obligations, including paying taxes and adhering to other laws.
  3. Language Proficiency:
    • Proficiency in the Korean language is generally required. This may involve passing a language proficiency test.
  4. Financial Stability:
    • Applicants are expected to demonstrate financial stability and the ability to support themselves and their dependents.
  5. No Criminal Record:
    • A clean criminal record is a requirement for naturalization.
  6. Renunciation of Previous Citizenship (in some cases):
    • Some countries require individuals to renounce their previous citizenship when acquiring Korean citizenship. It’s important to check the laws of both countries involved.
  7. Interview and Evaluation:
    • Applicants may be required to attend an interview, and their overall contribution to Korean society may be evaluated.

The specific requirements and processes can change, and exceptions may apply based on individual circumstances. Therefore, it’s advisable to check with the Korean immigration authorities or consult with legal professionals for the most accurate and current information.


Business Customs

Business customs in Korea can differ significantly from those in other countries, reflecting the unique cultural values and social norms of Korean society. Understanding and respecting these customs are crucial for successful business interactions. Here are some key differences in business customs in Korea compared to other countries:

  1. Hierarchy and Respect:
    • Korea places a strong emphasis on hierarchy and respect for age and seniority. In business settings, it is customary to use honorifics in language and to address people using their titles and positions.
  2. Business Card Etiquette:
    • Exchanging business cards is a formal and important part of business introductions. When offering or receiving a business card, it should be done with both hands, and the card should be studied briefly before being respectfully stored.
  3. Meetings and Decision-Making:
    • Meetings in Korea may be hierarchical, with decisions often made by senior management. Subordinates may hesitate to express dissenting opinions openly, and discussions may occur more informally outside the main meeting.
  4. Group Harmony:
    • Maintaining group harmony is crucial. Public criticism or disagreement may be avoided to preserve face and harmony within the group. Conflicts are often resolved privately.
  5. Socializing:
    • Building relationships is key, and socializing outside of work hours is common. This can include company dinners, outings, and other informal gatherings. Participation in these activities can contribute to building strong professional relationships.
  6. Gift-Giving:
    • Gift-giving is a common practice and is often done to express gratitude or goodwill. Gifts are typically presented and received with both hands, and the act of giving is as important as the gift itself.
  7. Dress Code:
    • Professional appearance is highly valued, and conservative business attire is the norm. A well-groomed and tidy appearance is considered essential. However, this has become more flexible after the COVID pandemic, where a lot of remote working was introduced, and people tend to be more relaxed even in the workplace, especially among young people.
  8. Communication Style:
    • Communication can be indirect, and expressing disagreement directly may be seen as confrontational. Non-verbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language, are important to observe. However, in certain occasions, especially during business negotiations, Koreans can be very direct and sometimes even look rude. So there are mixtures of styles, depending on the circumstances.
  9. Punctuality:
    • Punctuality is valued, and it is advisable to arrive on time for meetings and appointments. Being late may be perceived as a lack of respect for others’ time.
  10. Work-Life Balance:
    • While traditional work culture in Korea has been associated with long working hours, there is a growing awareness of the importance of work-life balance, especially among younger generations.
  11. Drinking Culture:
    • Socializing often involves drinking, and it is common for colleagues to go out for drinks after work. Refusing a drink can be seen as impolite, so it’s advisable to participate while being mindful of personal limits.
  12. Face and Apologies:
    • Maintaining face is crucial, and public apologies are rare. Apologies are often made in private to avoid public embarrassment.

Understanding and adapting to these customs is essential for building positive relationships in the Korean business environment. It’s recommended to approach interactions with openness, patience, and a willingness to learn and adapt to the cultural nuances of the Korean workplace.

Typical Workday and Work Week

The typical workday and workweek in Korea can vary depending on the industry, company, and individual job roles. However, there are some general patterns and expectations that characterize the work culture in Korea. It’s important to note that there are ongoing discussions and initiatives to improve work-life balance, and practices are evolving, especially among younger generations. Here’s an overview:


  1. Working Hours:
    • Traditionally, the standard workweek in Korea has been around 40 to 52 hours. However, it’s not uncommon for employees, especially in certain industries or positions, to work longer hours.
  2. Start and End Times:
    • The typical workday often starts between 8:30 AM and 9:00 AM and ends between 6:00 PM and 7:00 PM. However, these hours can vary based on the company and industry.
  3. Lunch Break:
    • Lunch breaks are usually taken at the workplace, and the lunch hour can be a time for informal discussions and team bonding. Some employees may also use this time to catch up on work or attend meetings.
  4. Overtime:
    • Overtime work is not uncommon, and it may extend into the evening hours. In some cases, employees may be expected to work beyond the standard work hours to meet project deadlines or handle additional tasks. However, for the young generation, it is also not strange to see that they keep sharp working hours.


  1. Standard Workweek:
    • The standard workweek in Korea is five days, from Monday to Friday. Saturday is considered a regular workday in many industries, but there is a growing trend towards a five-day workweek.
  2. Saturday Work:
    • In certain industries, especially manufacturing and retail, Saturday is a regular workday. However, there are efforts to reduce Saturday work hours, and more companies are moving towards a five-day workweek.
  3. Flexibility:
    • Flexibility in work schedules is becoming more accepted, especially in industries such as technology and startups. Some companies are adopting flexible work hours or remote work arrangements.
  4. Government Initiatives:
    • The Korean government has introduced initiatives to promote a healthier work-life balance. This includes efforts to reduce the maximum legal working hours and encourage a cultural shift towards valuing personal time.
  5. Cultural Expectations:
    • While there are efforts to change the perception of long working hours, there may still be cultural expectations around putting in extra effort at work. This can influence individual choices regarding overtime and work-life balance.

It’s important to note that work practices are evolving, and younger generations are often seeking a better balance between work and personal life. Companies in certain sectors and industries are adopting more flexible policies to attract and retain talent. However, practices can vary widely, and individual experiences may differ based on the specific company and work environment.

Tips for Making Good Business Relationships

Building strong business relationships is crucial for success in Korean business culture, as it places significant emphasis on interpersonal connections and mutual trust. Here are some tips for making good business relationships in Korea:

  1. Understand the Culture:
    • Familiarize yourself with Korean business customs, etiquette, and cultural norms. Demonstrating respect for the local culture goes a long way in building positive relationships.
  2. Learn Basic Korean Phrases:
    • While English is commonly used in business, making an effort to learn basic Korean phrases can show your commitment to understanding and engaging with the local culture.
  3. Business Card Etiquette:
    • Practice proper business card etiquette. When exchanging business cards, offer and receive them with both hands and take a moment to study the card before putting it away. Show respect for the information on the card.
  4. Networking Events:
    • Attend networking events, industry conferences, and social gatherings. These events provide opportunities to meet professionals from various companies and industries and build connections.
  5. Socializing:
    • Participate in social activities outside of the workplace, such as company dinners (hweh-sik), outings, and other informal gatherings. Building relationships in a relaxed setting can contribute to a stronger professional bond.
  6. Show Humility and Respect:
    • Demonstrate humility and respect for seniority and hierarchy. Address colleagues and superiors with appropriate titles and use honorific language. Displaying respect for others’ opinions and contributions is important.
  7. Be Patient and Build Trust:
    • Building trust takes time in Korean business culture. Be patient and invest time in relationship-building. Demonstrating reliability and consistency in your actions helps establish trust over time.
  8. Communication Style:
    • Be mindful of communication styles. Koreans may not always express disagreement openly. Pay attention to non-verbal cues and ensure that you create an atmosphere where colleagues feel comfortable expressing their opinions.
  9. Gift-Giving:
    • Gifts are often exchanged as gestures of goodwill. When presenting a gift, do so with both hands and choose items that are thoughtful and appropriate for the occasion. Avoid overly expensive gifts, as this can be seen as excessive.
  10. Attend Company Events:
    • Participate in company events, celebrations, and ceremonies. This shows your commitment to being part of the team and helps you integrate into the company culture.
  11. Express Gratitude:
    • Express gratitude for assistance or guidance. Showing appreciation for the contributions of others is important in building positive relationships.
  12. Maintain Professional Appearance:
    • Present yourself in a professional manner. Dress appropriately for the workplace, and maintain a neat and tidy appearance. Professionalism is highly valued in Korean business settings.
  13. Follow Up:
    • After meetings or collaborations, follow up with emails expressing gratitude and summarizing key points. This shows attention to detail and reinforces your commitment to the relationship.

Remember that relationship-building in Korea is often a long-term process that goes beyond immediate business transactions. Building strong interpersonal connections contributes to successful collaborations and partnerships in the Korean business environment.


Commonly Available Accommodation

Korea offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different preferences, lifestyles, and budgets. The availability of certain types of accommodation may vary depending on the city and region. Here are some commonly available types of accommodation in Korea:

  1. Apartments (아파트 – “Apateu”):
    • Apartments are a prevalent housing option in urban areas, and they come in various sizes and styles. Modern high-rise apartments are common, especially in cities like Seoul. Apartments often include amenities such as security systems, elevators, and communal spaces.
  2. Officetels (오피스텔 – “Opiseutel”):
    • Officetels are a combination of offices and hotels, providing both living and working spaces. They are compact units that can serve as residences and small offices. Officetels are popular in urban areas and offer convenience for professionals.
  3. Villas (빌라 – “Billa”):
    • Villas refer to multi-unit buildings with several floors, each containing individual units. Villas are common in both urban and suburban areas and may vary in terms of amenities and facilities.
  4. Goshiwon (고시원):
    • Goshiwon are small, affordable accommodations, often used by students or young professionals. They consist of tiny rooms with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. Goshiwon is a budget-friendly option, but the living space is minimal.
  5. Hanok (한옥):
    • Hanok refers to traditional Korean houses. While less common in urban areas, you can find hanok-style accommodation in certain neighborhoods, particularly in historical districts. These houses often feature traditional architecture and design.
  6. Guesthouses (게스트하우스):
    • Guesthouses are a popular choice for short-term stays and travelers. They offer shared or private rooms, and some provide communal spaces for socializing. Guesthouses can be found in tourist areas and major cities.
  7. Serviced Apartments (서비스 아파트먼트):
    • Serviced apartments provide a combination of hotel-like services and apartment-style living. They are fully furnished and equipped with amenities, making them suitable for short or extended stays.
  8. Shared Housing (쉐어드 하우스):
    • Shared housing involves individuals renting rooms in a larger apartment or house. Common areas such as the kitchen and bathroom are shared among the residents. This option is popular among students and young professionals.
  9. Jeonse (전세) and Wolse (월세):
    • Jeonse is a unique Korean rental system where tenants provide a large lump sum deposit instead of paying monthly rent. Wolse is the more conventional monthly rental system. Both options are available for apartments and other types of housing.
  10. Company Housing (기업 주택):
    • Some companies provide housing for their employees, especially for expatriates. This can be in the form of company-owned apartments or leased accommodations.

When searching for accommodation in Korea, it’s essential to consider factors such as location, budget, amenities, and personal preferences. Real estate websites, local real estate agents, and community bulletin boards are common resources for finding available housing options.

Housing Prices Across Different Regions

Housing prices in Korea can vary significantly depending on the region, type of housing, and various other factors. The real estate market in Korea is dynamic, and prices can change based on economic conditions, demand, and government policies. It’s important to note that the information provided here may not reflect the current market conditions, so it’s advisable to consult local real estate sources for the latest information. Here’s a general overview of housing prices in different regions:

  1. Seoul:
    • As the capital and largest city, Seoul tends to have the highest housing prices in the country. Apartments in desirable neighborhoods, especially in the Gangnam area, can be relatively expensive. The real estate market in Seoul is competitive, and prices can vary widely based on location and property type.
  2. Busan:
    • Busan, the second-largest city, also experiences notable variations in housing prices. Prices can be lower than in Seoul, but it depends on the specific neighborhood. Areas with easy access to transportation and amenities may have higher prices.
  3. Incheon:
    • Incheon, which includes the Incheon Free Economic Zone, offers a range of housing options. Prices can be influenced by proximity to airports, transportation hubs, and industrial areas.
  4. Gyeonggi Province:
    • Gyeonggi Province, surrounding Seoul, includes suburban and rural areas. Housing prices can vary widely, with more affordable options in outlying regions compared to those closer to Seoul.
  5. Jeju Island:
    • Jeju Island, a popular tourist destination, has its own real estate market dynamics. Housing prices may differ based on whether the property is located in urban areas, near the coast, or in more secluded parts of the island.
  6. Other Metropolitan Areas:
    • Housing prices in other major cities, such as Daejeon, Daegu, and Ulsan, can be more moderate compared to Seoul and Busan. The availability of amenities, infrastructure, and economic activities in each city influences housing prices.
  7. Rural and Outlying Areas:
    • Rural areas and smaller towns generally offer more affordable housing options. However, these areas may have limited amenities and fewer employment opportunities.
  8. Government Policies:
    • The Korean government has implemented various policies to manage housing prices and speculative activities. These policies can impact the real estate market and influence price trends.

It’s crucial to conduct thorough research and, if possible, consult with local real estate professionals when considering housing options. Keep in mind that housing prices can be influenced by factors beyond region, including property size, age, amenities, and market conditions.

Key Considerations When Searching for Housing

When searching for housing in Korea, whether for short-term or long-term stays, there are several key considerations to keep in mind. The process can vary based on factors such as location, budget, and personal preferences. Here are some key considerations to guide your search for housing in Korea:

  1. Budget:
    • Determine your budget for housing, taking into account monthly rent or mortgage payments, utilities, maintenance fees (if applicable), and any other associated costs. Be realistic about what you can afford.
  2. Location:
    • Consider the location based on your preferences and needs. Factors to think about include proximity to work or school, public transportation access, amenities in the neighborhood, and safety. Different neighborhoods within a city may have varying characteristics.
  3. Type of Housing:
    • Decide on the type of housing that suits your lifestyle. Options include apartments, officetels, villas, shared housing, or traditional hanok-style homes. Each type has its own advantages and considerations.
  4. Lease Terms:
    • Understand the lease terms, including the duration of the lease, payment schedule (monthly or lump sum), and any renewal or termination conditions. Lease agreements in Korea often have specific terms, so read the contract thoroughly. Also, some conventions may work like laws depending on the contract and payment terms, so aid from a real estate or relocation specialist can be a good idea.
  5. Deposit (Jeonse) or Monthly Rent (Wolse):
    • In Korea, the housing market often offers two payment options: Jeonse (a lump-sum deposit) or Wolse (monthly rent). Jeonse requires a higher initial deposit but typically eliminates monthly rent. Wolse involves regular monthly payments but a lower initial deposit.
  6. Amenities:
    • Consider the amenities provided by the property, such as furniture, appliances, parking, and security features. Some housing options come fully furnished, while most options require you to provide your own furnishings.
  7. Utilities and Maintenance:
    • Clarify which utilities are included in the rent and which you are responsible for separately. Generally, all utilities are payable by the tenant. Understand any maintenance fees and/or management fees applicable.
  8. Transportation:
    • Evaluate transportation options. Proximity to public transportation (subway, bus stations) and major roads can impact your daily commute and convenience.
  9. Local Services:
    • Check the availability of local services and facilities, including supermarkets, hospitals, schools, and recreational areas. Having essential services nearby can enhance your overall living experience.
  10. Cultural Considerations:
    • Be aware of cultural considerations, such as the significance of the direction the property faces, superstitions, and neighborhood customs. These cultural nuances can influence property values and desirability.
  11. Real Estate Agents:
    • Consider using the services of a local real estate agent, especially if you’re not familiar with the housing market or the Korean language. Real estate agents can help you navigate the process and provide valuable insights. In most cases, real estate agent fees are to be paid by both the landlord and tenant individually to each relevant real estate agent.
  12. Visit the Property:
    • Whenever possible, visit the property in person before making a decision. This allows you to assess the condition of the property, the surrounding neighborhood, and whether it meets your expectations.
  13. Legal and Contractual Considerations:
    • Understand the legal and contractual aspects of renting or purchasing property in Korea. Review the lease or purchase agreement carefully, and consider seeking legal advice if needed.

Remember that housing preferences can be highly subjective, so it’s essential to prioritize your own needs and preferences when making decisions. Additionally, staying informed about current market trends and regulations can help you make well-informed choices during your housing search in Korea.

Process of Purchasing a Property

The process of purchasing a property in Korea involves several steps, and it’s important to navigate the legal and administrative requirements carefully. Here’s a general overview of the typical process for purchasing property in Korea:

  1. Define Your Budget and Requirements:
    • Determine your budget for the property purchase and identify your specific requirements, such as location, type of property, and amenities.
  2. Engage a Real Estate Agent:
    • Consider engaging a licensed real estate agent to help you find suitable properties, negotiate with sellers, and guide you through the purchase process. Real estate agents in Korea can provide valuable local expertise.
  3. Property Search:
    • Work with your real estate agent to search for properties that meet your criteria. Agents can show you available properties, arrange viewings, and provide information about the neighborhoods.
  4. Offer and Negotiation:
    • Once you find a property you are interested in, you’ll make an offer. Negotiate the terms of the sale, including the purchase price, deposit amount, and any conditions. It’s common to negotiate the purchase price in Korea.
  5. Sales Agreement (Preliminary Contract):
    • Upon reaching an agreement with the seller, a sales agreement, also known as a preliminary contract, is typically signed. This document outlines the terms of the sale, including the agreed-upon purchase price, deposit amount, and the timeline for completing the transaction.
  6. Deposit (Chonsei):
    • In Korea, it’s common for property transactions to involve a substantial deposit known as “Chonsei.” This deposit is typically a large percentage of the property’s value and is paid upfront. The deposit is returned in full at the end of the lease or sale term unless there are reasons to be deducted, such as non-payment of something or damage attributable to the tenant, etc.
  7. Securing Financing (if applicable):
    • If you are financing the purchase through a mortgage, work with a financial institution to secure the necessary funding. Mortgage requirements and terms may vary, so explore different options.
  8. Due Diligence:
    • Conduct due diligence on the property. This may include a title search, verifying property boundaries, and ensuring that the property complies with local zoning and building regulations. Your real estate agent or legal advisor can assist with this process.
  9. Finalizing the Sale (Deed Transfer):
    • The final step involves completing the sale, transferring the deed, and paying the remaining balance of the purchase price. The sale is typically completed by registering the ownership transfer to the government office through a legal scrivener, and then the property ownership is officially transferred.
  10. Registration of Property Ownership:
    • After the sale is finalized, the new ownership details are registered with the local government office. This step ensures that you are officially recognized as the property owner.
  11. Registration Tax and Other Fees:
    • Be aware of and prepare for additional costs associated with the purchase, such as registration tax, acquisition tax, and any other applicable fees. These fees can vary based on the property value and location.
  12. Legal Assistance:
    • It’s advisable to seek legal assistance during the property purchase process. A legal professional can review contracts, assist with due diligence, and ensure that the transaction complies with local laws and regulations.

It’s important to note that property purchase processes and regulations may evolve, so it’s recommended to seek up-to-date information from local authorities and professionals. Additionally, consider engaging with experts who can guide you through the legal and administrative aspects of purchasing property in Korea.


Main Forms of Transportation

South Korea has a well-developed and efficient transportation system that includes various modes of transit. Here are the main forms of transportation in Korea and an overview of their reliability:

  1. Public Transportation:
    • Subway (지하철 – “Jihacheol”): Seoul and other major cities have extensive subway systems that cover a wide area. Subways are known for their punctuality and cleanliness. They are a popular and reliable mode of transportation, especially during rush hours.
    • Bus (버스 – “Beoseu”): Buses operate throughout urban and rural areas, providing comprehensive coverage. City buses, intercity buses, and express buses connect different regions. Buses are generally reliable, and schedules are well-maintained.
    • Train (기차 – “Gicha”): South Korea has a well-developed high-speed rail network (KTX, SRT) that connects major cities, offering a fast and efficient means of transportation. Conventional trains (ITX-Saemaeul, Mugunghwa) also serve various regions, providing additional options for travel.
  2. Taxis (택시 – “Taeksi”):
    • Taxis are widely available in urban areas and can be hailed on the street or booked through mobile apps. Taxis are generally reliable, but availability may vary depending on the time of day and location.
  3. Private Vehicles:
    • Cars: Private car ownership is common in Korea, and the road infrastructure is well-maintained. Highways connect major cities, and traffic regulations are strictly enforced. The reliability of private vehicles depends on factors such as traffic conditions and maintenance.
  4. Bicycles:
    • Bicycles are used for commuting and recreation in many cities. Dedicated bike lanes and bike-sharing programs are available in urban areas. The reliability of cycling as a mode of transportation depends on local infrastructure and weather conditions.
  5. Air Travel:
    • South Korea has several international and domestic airports, with Incheon International Airport being a major hub. Air travel is reliable, with a well-regulated aviation industry and modern airports. Domestic flights connect cities within the country.
  6. Ferries:
    • Ferries operate between the mainland and various islands, offering an alternative mode of transportation. The reliability of ferries depends on weather conditions and specific routes.
  7. Rental Cars:
    • Rental cars are available at airports and major cities. The road network is well-maintained, making self-driving a viable option. However, traffic conditions in urban areas can be congested.
  8. Shared Mobility Services:
    • Ride-sharing services and car-sharing programs are available in major cities, providing convenient and flexible transportation options.


  • Overall, public transportation in South Korea is known for its reliability, efficiency, and cleanliness. The subway and bus systems adhere to strict schedules, making them dependable for daily commuting. High-speed trains, especially the KTX, offer fast and reliable means of traveling between major cities.
  • Taxis are generally reliable but may be affected by factors such as traffic congestion and availability during peak hours. Ride-sharing services and mobile apps have become increasingly popular for booking taxis.
  • Private vehicles can be reliable, but traffic conditions in urban areas, especially during rush hours, can impact travel times. The road infrastructure is, however, well-maintained.
  • Air travel is reliable, with Incheon International Airport recognized for its efficiency and service quality.
  • As with any transportation system, occasional disruptions or delays may occur due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather events or maintenance activities. Overall, South Korea’s transportation infrastructure is highly regarded for its reliability and accessibility.

Internet and Mobile Connectivity

South Korea is renowned for its advanced and high-speed internet and mobile connectivity infrastructure. The country has one of the fastest and most developed telecommunications networks globally. Here are some key aspects of internet and mobile connectivity in Korea:

  1. High-Speed Internet:
    • South Korea boasts some of the fastest broadband internet speeds in the world. High-speed fiber-optic connections are widely available, providing fast and reliable internet access to homes, businesses, and public spaces.
  2. Mobile Connectivity:
    • Mobile connectivity is widespread, and South Korea has a highly developed 4G LTE network. The country has also been an early adopter of 5G technology, making it one of the first nations to deploy and commercialize 5G networks. This has resulted in ultra-fast mobile internet speeds and low latency.
  3. 5G Networks:
    • South Korea has been at the forefront of 5G technology deployment, with major cities well-covered by 5G networks. This advanced technology enables high-speed data transfer, low latency, and supports applications such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and the Internet of Things (IoT).
  4. Internet Accessibility:
    • Internet access is readily available in urban and rural areas. Public spaces, including cafes, restaurants, and transportation hubs, often provide free Wi-Fi access.
  5. Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
    • Several ISPs offer broadband internet services, including major providers such as KT (formerly Korea Telecom), SK Broadband, and LG Uplus. Users can choose from various plans based on their speed and data requirements.
  6. Smartphone Usage:
    • South Korea has a high smartphone penetration rate, and the population is known for embracing the latest mobile technologies. Smartphones are widely used for various purposes, including communication, entertainment, and mobile commerce.
  7. Mobile Apps and Services:
    • A wide range of mobile apps and services are available to users, covering social media, messaging, online shopping, banking, and entertainment. The mobile app ecosystem is diverse and caters to various needs.
  8. Public Wi-Fi:
    • Public Wi-Fi is prevalent in urban areas, and many public spaces, such as subway stations, bus stops, and parks, offer free Wi-Fi access. Additionally, government initiatives aim to expand public Wi-Fi coverage across the country.
  9. Tech-Savvy Culture:
    • South Korea has a tech-savvy culture with a high level of digital literacy. The population embraces new technologies, and digital innovation is a key driver of the country’s economy.
  10. Internet Security:
    • South Korea places a strong emphasis on internet security. The government and private sector collaborate to implement robust cybersecurity measures to protect users and critical infrastructure.

While internet and mobile connectivity in South Korea are highly advanced and reliable, it’s essential to keep in mind that the quality of service may vary based on the specific location and network provider. Overall, the country’s commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements ensures a cutting-edge and efficient communication infrastructure.

Best Cities or Regions for Commuting to Work

The best cities or regions in Korea for commuting to work can depend on various factors, including the individual’s workplace location, preferences, and lifestyle. Here are several cities in Korea known for their accessibility and commuting options:

  1. Seoul:
    • As the capital and largest city, Seoul is a major economic hub with an extensive public transportation network. The city’s subway system and bus services are highly efficient, making commuting relatively convenient. Additionally, Seoul offers various residential neighborhoods, allowing individuals to choose a location that suits their preferences and is close to their workplace.
  2. Busan:
    • Busan, the second-largest city, has a well-developed transportation system, including a subway network and bus services. The city’s coastal location and scenic surroundings add to its appeal. Busan is known for its relaxed atmosphere, making it a desirable place to live and work.
  3. Incheon:
    • Incheon, located adjacent to Seoul, is a major economic and transportation hub. It is home to Incheon International Airport and offers a variety of commuting options, including a subway system and buses. Incheon provides a mix of urban and suburban living, with several districts offering good commuting access.
  4. Daejeon:
    • Daejeon, often referred to as the “Science and Technology Hub of Korea,” is known for its research institutions and universities. The city has an efficient public transportation system, including buses and a subway. Daejeon’s layout and size make it relatively easy to commute within the city.
  5. Suwon:
    • Suwon, located near Seoul, is known for its historical sites and modern amenities. The city has a well-connected public transportation system, including buses and trains. Suwon’s proximity to Seoul makes it a viable option for those working in the capital but seeking a slightly less hectic living environment.
  6. Gwangju:
    • Gwangju, located in the southwestern part of the country, is a cultural and educational center. The city has a public transportation system that includes buses. Gwangju is known for its vibrant arts scene and is a more relaxed alternative for those seeking a different pace of life.
  7. Ulsan:
    • Ulsan, located in the southeast, is an industrial city with a strong focus on the automotive and shipbuilding industries. The city has an efficient transportation system, including buses. Ulsan offers a mix of urban and suburban living options.
  8. Sejong City:
    • Sejong City, established as the administrative capital of South Korea, is designed to alleviate population concentration in Seoul. The city has modern infrastructure and efficient transportation options, making it a suitable place for work and residence.

When considering the best city or region for commuting, it’s important to evaluate factors such as proximity to work, public transportation options, lifestyle preferences, and available amenities. Each city in Korea has its unique characteristics, and the ideal commuting situation may vary based on individual priorities and circumstances.

  1. Seoul
    • Public Transportation: Seoul has an extensive and efficient public transportation system, including a well-developed subway network and a comprehensive bus system. The subway system connects various neighborhoods and business districts, making it easy to navigate the city.
    • Highways and Roads: Seoul is connected to a network of well-maintained highways and roads, facilitating smooth traffic flow. The road infrastructure supports efficient commuting by private vehicles, taxis, and buses.
    • Air Travel: Incheon International Airport, located near Seoul, is one of the busiest and most well-connected airports in the world. It serves as a major gateway for international and domestic flights, enhancing connectivity for business travelers.
  2. Incheon:
    • Transportation Hub: Incheon is a major transportation hub, hosting Incheon International Airport. The airport facilitates global connectivity and is a crucial asset for international business activities. High-speed trains and express buses connect Incheon to Seoul and other cities.
  3. Busan:
    • Rail and Expressways: Busan is well-connected to Seoul and other cities via high-speed trains and expressways. The KTX (Korea Train Express) connects Busan to Seoul in approximately two and a half hours, making it a convenient option for business travel.
    • Port: Busan is home to one of the largest and busiest seaports in Korea, the Port of Busan. The port plays a significant role in facilitating international trade and business activities.
  4. Daejeon:
    • Science and Technology Hub: Daejeon, known as the “Science and Technology Hub of Korea,” is strategically located in the central part of the country. It is well-connected by high-speed trains and expressways, making it accessible for business travelers.
    • Educational Institutions: Daejeon is home to prominent research institutions and universities, contributing to the city’s role as a hub for science and technology.
  5. Ulsan:
    • Industrial Hub: Ulsan, a major industrial city, is well-connected by highways and expressways. The city’s strategic location on the southeastern coast contributes to its accessibility for business activities, particularly in the industrial sector.
    • Transportation Infrastructure: Ulsan has transportation infrastructure supporting the shipping and logistics industries, with connections to major ports.

Overall, the main business hubs in Korea benefit from a robust transportation infrastructure, including high-speed trains, expressways, airports, and ports. This connectivity enhances accessibility for business travelers and supports the efficient movement of goods and services. The country’s commitment to maintaining and improving transportation networks contributes to its reputation as a dynamic business environment.



South Korea has become increasingly open to foreigners in recent years, and there is a growing recognition of the contributions that expatriates can make to the country’s cultural and economic landscape. However, the degree of welcoming and the ease of integration into Korean society can vary based on several factors, including individual experiences, cultural adaptation, and the specific community or workplace.

Here are some aspects to consider when assessing how welcoming and easy it is to integrate into Korean society:

  1. Cultural Attitudes:
    • Korean society is generally homogeneous, and there may be certain cultural norms and traditions that can influence social interactions. While many Koreans are friendly and welcoming to foreigners, there might be instances where cultural differences become apparent.
  2. Language Barrier:
    • Language can be a significant factor in integration. While English is taught in schools, and there is a growing number of English speakers, especially in urban areas, the overall level of English proficiency may vary. Learning basic Korean phrases can enhance communication and contribute to a smoother integration process.
  3. Expat Communities:
    • In major cities like Seoul and Busan, there are established expatriate communities with various support networks. These communities often organize social events, language exchange programs, and cultural activities, providing opportunities for newcomers to connect with both locals and fellow expats.
  4. Work Environment:
    • Integration into the workplace depends on the company culture and the openness of colleagues. Larger multinational corporations and industries with a global focus may have more diverse and inclusive work environments. Some companies actively promote cultural exchange and provide support for expatriate employees.
  5. Social Customs and Etiquette:
    • Familiarizing oneself with Korean social customs and etiquette is essential for successful integration. Politeness, respect for hierarchy, and adherence to social norms are valued in Korean society. Understanding and respecting these cultural aspects can contribute positively to relationships.
  6. Education and Awareness:
    • The Korean government and society are increasingly aware of the importance of diversity and are taking steps to promote cultural exchange and inclusivity. There are programs and initiatives to enhance cultural understanding and provide resources for foreigners living in Korea.
  7. Legal and Administrative Support:
    • The Korean government provides information and services to support foreigners, including assistance with visa processes, legal matters, and cultural adaptation. Local government offices and international centers offer resources and guidance for expatriates.
  8. Lifestyle and Recreation:
    • Korea offers a vibrant lifestyle with diverse cultural and recreational activities. Engaging in local events, festivals, and community activities can provide opportunities for interaction and integration.

It’s important to note that individual experiences may vary, and integration into Korean society is a personal journey influenced by factors such as openness, adaptability, and efforts to engage with the local community. While there may be initial challenges, many expatriates find Korea to be a welcoming and rewarding place to live, work, and experience a unique cultural environment. Seeking support from local networks, participating in community activities, and maintaining an open mind contribute to a more positive integration experience.

Communities or Groups for Expats

There are established communities and groups for expatriates in South Korea, particularly in major cities like Seoul, Busan, and other urban areas. These communities play a crucial role in providing support, networking opportunities, and a sense of belonging for foreigners living in Korea. Here are some types of expat communities and groups you may find:

  1. Online Forums and Social Media Groups:
    • Numerous online forums and social media groups exist where expatriates in Korea connect, share information, and seek advice. Platforms like Facebook, Meetup, and various expat-focused websites host groups dedicated to specific interests, nationalities, or general expat discussions.
  2. Language Exchange Programs:
    • Language exchange events are common in major cities, where locals and expats come together to practice language skills. These events provide an excellent opportunity to meet people, exchange cultural insights, and build friendships.
  3. International Clubs and Organizations:
    • Many cities have international clubs and organizations that host events, cultural activities, and social gatherings. These clubs often cater to specific nationalities or broader international communities, creating a space for expatriates to connect.
  4. Professional Networking Groups:
    • Professional and business networking groups cater to expatriates working in various industries. These organizations may host seminars, workshops, and networking events to facilitate connections within the business community.
  5. Cultural and Hobby Groups:
    • Expatriates with shared interests often form cultural or hobby groups. These could include art clubs, hiking groups, book clubs, or sports teams. Participating in these activities provides a chance to bond over shared passions.
  6. Religious and Community Centers:
    • Religious institutions and community centers often organize events and activities for expatriates. These gatherings can provide a supportive community and a sense of familiarity for those practicing a particular faith.
  7. International Schools:
    • For expatriates with children attending international schools, there may be school-related activities and parent groups that facilitate connections among families.
  8. Embassy Events:
    • Embassies and consulates frequently organize cultural events, social gatherings, and informative sessions for their nationals. These events offer opportunities to meet fellow citizens and participate in cultural exchanges.
  9. Expat Housing Communities:
    • Expatriate communities often form around shared housing complexes or neighborhoods. Living in close proximity can foster connections among residents, leading to community events and support networks.
  10. Language Institutes: 
    • Language schools and institutes catering to expatriates may organize social events and cultural programs, creating a space for language learners to interact with each other.

When seeking expatriate communities in Korea, it’s beneficial to explore both online platforms and local resources. Websites like Meetup and Facebook groups can be valuable for connecting with like-minded individuals, while local community centers, embassies, and international clubs can provide information about in-person events and activities. Engaging in these communities can enhance the expatriate experience, providing a support system and helping newcomers navigate life in a foreign country.

Socializing and Networking

South Korea offers various opportunities for socializing and networking, catering to a diverse range of interests and preferences. Whether you’re interested in professional networking, cultural activities, or meeting new people, there are numerous avenues to connect with others in Korea. Here are some common opportunities for socializing and networking in the country:

  1. Language Exchange Meetups:
    • Language exchange events are popular in major cities like Seoul and Busan. These gatherings provide a platform for locals and expatriates to practice language skills in a casual and social setting. Attendees often form connections beyond language exchange.
  2. Professional Networking Events:
    • Networking events, seminars, and workshops are regularly organized by professional associations, industry groups, and business organizations. These events offer opportunities to meet professionals in various fields, share experiences, and build connections within the business community.
  3. Expat Social Groups:
    • Expat social groups, both online and offline, organize social events, outings, and gatherings. These groups are diverse and may cater to specific nationalities, interests, or lifestyles.
  4. Meetup Groups:
    • Meetup is a popular platform in Korea for finding and joining groups based on shared interests. From hiking and photography to coding and entrepreneurship, there are Meetup groups for various hobbies and activities.
  5. Cultural Events and Festivals:
    • Korea hosts numerous cultural events and festivals throughout the year. Attending these events provides an opportunity to meet people, experience Korean culture, and enjoy various activities such as performances, exhibitions, and food tastings.
  6. Sports and Recreation Clubs:
    • Sports clubs, fitness classes, and recreational groups are available for those interested in physical activities. Joining a sports or recreation club not only promotes a healthy lifestyle but also offers a chance to meet people with similar interests.
  7. Religious Institutions:
    • If you have a religious affiliation, attending services or events at local religious institutions can be a way to connect with like-minded individuals. Many religious communities organize social activities and gatherings.
  8. International Chambers of Commerce:
    • International chambers of commerce in Korea host events that bring together professionals and businesses. These events provide a platform for networking and building connections within the international business community.
  9. Cultural Centers and Institutes:
    • Cultural centers, both local and international, often organize cultural programs, language classes, and social events. These centers provide opportunities to meet people interested in cultural exchange and learning.
  10. Educational Institutions:
    • Universities and educational institutions host seminars, lectures, and cultural events that are open to the public. Attending these events can lead to interactions with students, academics, and professionals.
  11. Tech and Startup Events:
    • If you’re involved in the tech or startup scene, attending industry-specific events and conferences can be an excellent way to network with entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals in the field.
  12. Embassy and Consulate Events:
    • Embassies and consulates organize cultural events, receptions, and informative sessions. These events often bring together nationals from the respective countries and create opportunities for socializing.
  13. Social Media and Online Platforms:
    • Utilize social media platforms and online forums to connect with people in Korea. Many expatriates and locals actively engage in online communities, providing a virtual space for networking.

It’s advisable to explore a combination of these opportunities based on your interests, goals, and preferences. Networking and socializing in Korea can be rewarding, allowing you to build a diverse and supportive network while experiencing the rich cultural tapestry of the country.

Participation in Local Activities and Community Events

Getting involved in local activities or community events in Korea can be a rewarding way to connect with people, learn about the culture, and contribute to your community. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Online Platforms:
    • Check online platforms such as Meetup, Facebook groups, or local community websites. Many cities in Korea have online communities where people share information about events and activities.
  2. Language Exchange Meetups:
    • Attend language exchange meetups. These events are not only a great way to practice Korean or another language you’re interested in, but they often involve cultural exchange and networking.
  3. Community Centers:
    • Visit your local community center (dong office or gu office). They often organize events and may have information about local clubs or groups. Introduce yourself and inquire about upcoming activities.
  4. Cultural Centers:
    • Explore cultural centers such as the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) or local community cultural centers. They often host events, workshops, and classes.
  5. Language Institutes or Universities:
    • Check with language institutes or universities in your area. They may have cultural events, clubs, or workshops that are open to the community.
  6. Volunteering:
    • Consider volunteering for local organizations or charities. This is a great way to meet people, contribute to the community, and gain a sense of fulfillment.
  7. Expat Organizations:
    • If you’re an expat, look for expat organizations in your city. They often organize social events, cultural activities, and volunteer opportunities.
  8. Sports Clubs:
    • Join a sports club or fitness group. Whether it’s a soccer team, hiking club, or yoga class, participating in physical activities is a good way to meet people.
  9. Attend Festivals and Events:
    • Keep an eye out for local festivals, cultural events, and celebrations. These are excellent opportunities to immerse yourself in the local culture and connect with people.
  10. Language Schools:
    • Enroll in language classes. Language schools often organize extracurricular activities or have bulletin boards where local events are posted.
  11. Networking Events:
    • Attend networking events related to your profession or interests. This can be a way to meet like-minded individuals and discover local opportunities.
  12. Local Cafes and Hangouts:
    • Spend time in local cafes, parks, or popular hangout spots. You may come across flyers or posters advertising upcoming events.

Remember to be proactive, open-minded, and willing to step out of your comfort zone. Networking and making connections with locals will enhance your overall experience and integration into the community.



South Korea has generally been well-prepared in dealing with emergencies, including natural disasters and public health crises. However, it’s important to note that the situation can evolve, and it’s advisable to check for the latest information from reliable sources.

  1. Natural Disasters:
    • South Korea is prone to various natural disasters, including typhoons, earthquakes, and heavy rainfall. The government has established robust disaster management systems to respond to these events. Warning systems are in place, and there are evacuation procedures to ensure the safety of the population.
  2. Public Health Emergencies:
    • South Korea gained international recognition for its effective response to the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak in 2015. The experience from that crisis led to improvements in the country’s public health infrastructure and emergency response capabilities. The COVID-19 pandemic also showcased South Korea’s ability to implement widespread testing, contact tracing, and quarantine measures.
  3. Emergency Services:
    • South Korea has well-established emergency services, including police, fire departments, and medical response teams. These services are equipped to handle a variety of emergencies and are trained to coordinate their efforts effectively.
  4. Government Initiatives:
    • The South Korean government has invested in technologies and systems to enhance disaster preparedness and response. This includes early warning systems for natural disasters, advanced healthcare infrastructure, and the use of technology for contact tracing during public health emergencies.
  5. Community Involvement:
    • There is a strong emphasis on community involvement and preparedness. Regular drills and exercises are conducted to ensure that the public is familiar with emergency procedures. Community centers and local government offices play a role in disseminating information and coordinating responses.
  6. International Collaboration:
    • South Korea actively collaborates with international organizations and other countries to share knowledge and resources for disaster management and response.

It’s crucial to stay informed about emergency procedures, follow local news and announcements, and register for any alert systems provided by local authorities. Additionally, given that circumstances can change, checking with official government sources or local authorities for the most up-to-date information is recommended.

Steps to Follow in Case of a Medical Emergency

In case of a medical emergency in South Korea or any other country, it’s essential to act quickly and efficiently to seek help. Here are the general steps to follow:

  1. Call for Emergency Assistance:
    • Dial the emergency number in South Korea, which is 119 for medical emergencies. This number connects you to the ambulance service, and operators are trained to provide guidance until help arrives.
  2. Provide Essential Information:
    • Clearly and calmly provide information about the emergency, your location, and any specific details about the patient’s condition. If you don’t speak Korean, try to find someone who can assist with translation, or use a translation app if available.
  3. Administer Basic First Aid (if trained):
    • If you have basic first aid training and it’s safe to do so, administer first aid while waiting for the ambulance. However, if you are not trained or unsure, it’s generally best to wait for professional help.
  4. Stay Calm and Reassure the Patient:
    • Try to keep the patient calm and reassure them while waiting for emergency services. Offer comfort and support without making promises about the outcome.
  5. Follow Instructions from Emergency Services:
    • Emergency operators may provide instructions over the phone. Follow their guidance carefully, and provide any additional information they request.
  6. Prepare Important Information:
    • If possible, gather information about the patient’s medical history, allergies, and any medications they are taking. This information can be helpful for medical professionals.
  7. Accompany the Patient to the Hospital:
    • If it’s safe and possible, accompany the patient to the hospital. This can be important for providing additional information to healthcare providers and offering support to the patient.
  8. Notify Family or Emergency Contacts:
    • If appropriate, notify the patient’s family or emergency contacts about the situation. They may need to be informed of the medical emergency and can provide additional information to healthcare providers.
  9. Understand the Healthcare System:
    • Familiarize yourself with the local healthcare system and the nearest hospitals or medical facilities. Having this knowledge in advance can save time during an emergency.
  10. Keep Important Documents Handy:
    • Keep a copy of essential documents, such as health insurance information and identification, in a place that is easily accessible in case of an emergency.

Remember, it’s crucial to act quickly and stay as calm as possible during a medical emergency. Emergency services are there to help, and the sooner they are contacted, the better the chances of a positive outcome. If you’re in a foreign country like South Korea and are not familiar with the local emergency services and procedures, take some time to learn about them in advance.

Natural Disasters

South Korea is susceptible to various natural disasters, and it’s important for residents and visitors to be aware of potential risks and take necessary precautions. Common natural disasters in Korea include:

  1. Typhoons:
    • Typhoons are tropical cyclones that can bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and storm surges. The typhoon season in Korea typically occurs from June to November. Residents and visitors should stay informed about typhoon warnings, secure outdoor objects, and follow evacuation instructions if necessary.
  2. Earthquakes:
    • South Korea is located near the boundary between the Eurasian Plate and the Philippine Sea Plate, making it susceptible to earthquakes. While major earthquakes are relatively infrequent, it’s important to be aware of earthquake preparedness measures, such as securing heavy furniture, knowing evacuation routes, and having an emergency kit.
  3. Heavy Rainfall and Flooding:
    • Monsoon rains during the summer months can lead to heavy rainfall and flooding, particularly in low-lying areas. Residents should be prepared for potential flooding by having emergency supplies, staying informed about weather forecasts, and following evacuation orders if issued.
  4. Landslides:
    • Heavy rainfall or earthquakes can trigger landslides, especially in hilly or mountainous regions. Residents should be aware of the risk in their area, avoid construction in landslide-prone zones, and follow evacuation instructions during periods of heavy rainfall.
  5. Winter Weather:
    • While not a disaster in the traditional sense, severe winter weather, including heavy snowfall and cold temperatures, can impact daily life. It’s important to be prepared for winter conditions by having appropriate clothing, keeping homes insulated, and being cautious on icy roads.

Preparedness measures for natural disasters in Korea include:

Stay Informed: Monitor weather forecasts and emergency alerts regularly. The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) provides information on typhoons, earthquakes, and other weather-related events.

Emergency Kit: Prepare an emergency kit that includes essential supplies such as non-perishable food, water, first aid supplies, flashlight, batteries, and important documents.

Evacuation Plan: Know the evacuation routes in your area and have a plan in place for where to go and how to communicate with family members in case of evacuation.

Secure Belongings: Secure outdoor furniture, plants, and other objects that could become projectiles during strong winds or typhoons.

Building Safety: If you live in an earthquake-prone area, ensure that your home or building is structurally sound. Follow safety guidelines for earthquake-prone regions, such as securing heavy furniture and practicing “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.”

Community Involvement: Stay engaged with your local community and participate in disaster drills or preparedness activities organized by local authorities.

By staying informed, being prepared, and actively participating in community preparedness efforts, individuals can enhance their resilience to natural disasters in South Korea. Local authorities regularly conduct drills and provide information to help residents and visitors be prepared for various scenarios.

Support in Emergency Situations

Expatriates in South Korea can expect various forms of support from local authorities and their home country’s embassy in the event of an emergency. The level of support may vary depending on the nature of the emergency, the policies of the home country’s embassy, and the cooperation between the local authorities and diplomatic missions. Here are some common types of support that expats may receive:

From Local Authorities:

  1. Emergency Services:
    • Local emergency services, such as police, fire departments, and medical response teams, are available to provide assistance during emergencies. The emergency number in South Korea is 119.
  2. Public Announcements and Information:
    • Local authorities will disseminate information about emergencies through various channels, including official announcements, news outlets, and online platforms.
  3. Evacuation Procedures:
    • In the case of natural disasters or other emergencies requiring evacuation, local authorities will provide guidance on evacuation procedures and designated shelters.
  4. Healthcare Services:
    • Expats have access to the South Korean healthcare system. In the event of a health emergency, they can seek medical assistance at local hospitals and clinics.

From Home Country’s Embassy or Consulate:

  1. Emergency Assistance and Information:
    • Embassies and consulates provide emergency assistance and information to their citizens. This may include guidance on local conditions, safety precautions, and available support services.
  2. Consular Services:
    • In cases of emergencies, consular services may include assistance with lost passports, emergency travel documents, and contact with family members. Consular officers can also provide a list of local medical facilities and legal services.
  3. Evacuation Support:
    • In extreme situations, embassies may coordinate with local authorities to facilitate the evacuation of their citizens. This could involve providing information on evacuation routes, transportation arrangements, and communication with affected individuals.
  4. Communication and Outreach:
    • Embassies maintain communication channels with their citizens and often have systems in place to reach out to them during emergencies. This may include email alerts, text messages, and updates on social media.
  5. Crisis Management and Advice:
    • Embassies may offer crisis management advice to their citizens, including guidance on how to navigate local situations, access resources, and stay safe.

It’s essential for expatriates to register with their embassy or consulate upon arrival in South Korea. This registration allows the embassy to contact them in case of emergencies and provides a means for the embassy to offer assistance. Expats should also familiarize themselves with the emergency procedures and contact information provided by their home country’s diplomatic mission.

In the event of an emergency, expatriates should stay informed, follow the guidance of local authorities, and reach out to their embassy or consulate for assistance as needed.


Reloc8 Asia Pacific Group

Reloc8 consists of key partners located in 12 countries across the Asia Pacific region. Together, we offer employee mobility services to clients seeking assistance in 23 locations throughout Asia, including: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. In addition to these, we extend our services to the following destinations: Fiji, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, The Solomons. The Maldives, and Guam. Our members represent the premier destination and immigration service providers in the Asia Pacific region. Each partner maintains their unique style and cultural identity, contributing to the Alliance’s diverse and multicultural atmosphere. However, they all share a collective commitment to upholding the highest standards of ethics, integrity, and service excellence.

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