Life in Korea

Seoul Global Center (SGC)

The following guidebooks are published by the Seoul Global Center (https://global.seoul.go.kr) and can help you prepare for your life here in Korea and the city of Seoul. The center can also provide various services and counseling during your stay

Korea Tourism Organization (KTO)

You can also check out many books on many topics published by the Korea Tourism Organization (http://visitkorea.or.kr) in various languages. https://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/TRV/TV_ENG_3_5.jsp

General Advice

Medication

If you take prescription medication, please try to bring an adequate supply for your exchange period.

Banking

You will be able to open a bank account for free once you arrive in Korea, but make sure you have access to enough cash to support yourself when you arrive.

Mobile Phone Service

Obtain a temporary SIM card at the Incheon Airport when you land for instant access. Alternatively, WIFI is readily available and convenient to use throughout Korea.

Shoes

Remove your shoes when entering someone’s home, temples, and traditional restaurants (look for the visible area at the entrance for shoes).

Gestures

Use both hands when paying for something, giving, and accepting things from others. A common way to be polite is to support the hand you are using with your other hand.

Seasons and Climate

Korea has four seasons, so pack appropriate clothing based on your exchange period. Winters tend to be very cold and dry, while summers are hot and humid. Spring and fall are mild and beautiful, but short.

Gift-giving

This is a frequent custom in Korea. You may wish to bring some small gifts from your home country to give to friends or classmates.

Hierarchy

Social status and age are very important in Korea. Find out how to address your professors (often by calling them or adding “kyo-su-nim” (교수님) to the end of their name) and speak to them using polite language and behavior.

Greetings

When meeting someone for the first time in Korea, it is polite to shake their hand with both hands and/or bow your head slightly. Ask new people how they like to be addressed as:

      • Using first names in Korea can be impolite without certain suffixes.
      • First names are often reserved for family and close friends.
      • It is common to use special terms for friends who are older than you.
      • The terms for older friends are also different by gender.