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{{quickbar
 
{{quickbar
| image=[[Image:Beomeosa Temples.JPG|noframe|250px]]
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| image=Beomeosa Temples.JPG
| location=[[Image:LocationSouthKorea.png|250px|noframe]]
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| caption=Beomeosa Temple, Busan
| flag=[[Image:ks-flag.png]]
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| flag=Flag of South Korea.svg
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| location=South Korea in its region.svg
 
| capital=[[Seoul]]
 
| capital=[[Seoul]]
| government=Presidential Republic
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| government=presidential republic
| currency=Won (KRW, \)
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| currency=Won (, KRW)
| area=''total:'' 98,480 km<br />''land:'' 98,190 km<sup>2</sup><br />''water:'' 290 km<sup>2</sup>
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| area=98,480km²<br />''land: 98,190km²<br />water: 290km²''
| population=49,044,790 (July 2007 est.)
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| population=51,302,044(2014 estimate)
 
| language=[[Korean]], English widely taught in junior high and high school
 
| language=[[Korean]], English widely taught in junior high and high school
| religion=No organized affiliation 31.5%,Christian 40% (Protestant majority), Buddhist 38%, Confucianism 0.2%, other 1% (2010 est.)  
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| religion=No organized affiliation 31.5%, Christian 40% (Protestant majority), Buddhist 38%, Confucianism 0.2%, other 1% (2010 estimate)  
| electricity=220V/60Hz(Western Europe plug type)
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| electricity=220V, 60Hz ([[Electrical_systems#Plugs_and_adapters|C & F]] type "German" plugs)
 
| callingcode=+82
 
| callingcode=+82
 
| tld=.kr
 
| tld=.kr
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'''South Korea''' (한국, 韓國 ''Hanguk'') [http://english.visitkorea.or.kr], formally the '''Republic of Korea''' (대한민국, 大韓民國 ''Daehan Minguk'') is a country in [[East Asia|East]] [[Asia]].  South Korea occupies the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, with [[North Korea]] to the north, [[China]] across the sea to the west and [[Japan]] a short ferry ride to the southeast.
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[http://english.visitkorea.or.kr '''South Korea'''] (한국, 韓國 ''Hanguk''), officaly the '''Republic of Korea''' (대한민국, 大韓民國 ''Daehan Minguk'') is a country in [[East Asia|East]] [[Asia]].  South Korea occupies the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, with [[North Korea]] to the north, [[China]] across the sea to the west and [[Japan]] a short ferry ride to the southeast.
  
 
==Understand==  
 
==Understand==  
  
 
===History===
 
===History===
 +
 
====Early history and founding of a nation====
 
====Early history and founding of a nation====
 +
Archaeological finds of prehistoric toolmaking on the Korean Peninsula date back to 70,000&nbsp;BC, and the first pottery is found around 8000 BC. Comb-pattern pottery culture peaked around 3500-2000&nbsp;BC.
  
Archeological finds of prehistoric toolmaking on the Korean Peninsula date back to 70,000 BC, and the first pottery is found around 8000 BC. Comb-pattern pottery culture peaked around 3500-2000 BC.
+
Legend has it that Korea began with the founding of Gojoseon (also called ''Ancient Chosun'') by the legendary Dangun in 2333&nbsp;BC. Archaeological and contemporaneous written records of Gojoseon as a kingdom date back to around 7th-4th century BC. Gojoseon was eventually defeated by the Chinese Han Dynasty and its territories were governed by four Chinese commanders. The political chaos following the fall of the Han Dynasty in China allowed native tribes to regain control of Korea and led to the emergence of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, namely Goguryeo, Silla and Baekje. Despite repeated attempts by China, namely the Sui Dynasty and later the Tang Dynasty, to conquer the Korean Peninsula, northern-based Goguryeo managed to repel them. Eventually, Goguryeo fell to a Silla-Tang alliance, which had earlier defeated Baekje. This unified Korea under the Silla dynasty. Even though Tang later invaded, Silla forces managed to drive them out, thus maintaining Korea's independence.  
 
+
Legend has it that Korea began with the founding of Gojoseon (also called ''Ancient Chosun'') by the legendary Dangun in 2333 BC. Archeological and contemporaneous written records of Gojoseon as a kingdom date back to around 7th-4th century BC. Gojoseon was eventually defeated by the Chinese Han Dynasty and Korea was governed as four commanderies. The political chaos following the fall of the Han Dynasty in China allowed native tribes to regain control of Korea and led to the emergence of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, namely Goguryeo, Silla and Baekje. Despite repeated attempts by China, namely the Sui Dynasty and later the Tang Dynasty, to conquer the Korean Peninsula, northern-based Goguryeo managed to repel them. Eventually, Goguryeo fell to a Silla-Tang alliance, which had earlier defeated Baekje. This unified Korea under the Silla dynasty. Even though Tang later invaded, Silla forces managed to drive them out, thus maintaining Korea's independence.  
+
  
 
Unified Silla was replaced by the Goryeo (also called ''Koryo'') dynasty, from which the modern name "Korea" derives. One highlight of the Goryeo dynasty was that in 1234 the world's first metal movable type was invented by a Korean named Choe Yun-ui (200 years before Gutenberg's printing press). Goryeo was replaced by the Joseon (also called ''Chosun'') dynasty, after a coup by one of its generals. The Joseon dynasty ruled Korea from 1392 to 1910, being one of the longest actively ruling dynasties in world history. It was during the early part of the Joseon dynasty that Korean technological inventions such as the world's first water clock, ironclad ship, and other innovations took place. During the rule of King Sejong the Great, the world's first rain gauge was invented and the Korean alphabet known as ''hangul'' was created.
 
Unified Silla was replaced by the Goryeo (also called ''Koryo'') dynasty, from which the modern name "Korea" derives. One highlight of the Goryeo dynasty was that in 1234 the world's first metal movable type was invented by a Korean named Choe Yun-ui (200 years before Gutenberg's printing press). Goryeo was replaced by the Joseon (also called ''Chosun'') dynasty, after a coup by one of its generals. The Joseon dynasty ruled Korea from 1392 to 1910, being one of the longest actively ruling dynasties in world history. It was during the early part of the Joseon dynasty that Korean technological inventions such as the world's first water clock, ironclad ship, and other innovations took place. During the rule of King Sejong the Great, the world's first rain gauge was invented and the Korean alphabet known as ''hangul'' was created.
  
====Japanese occupation and division====
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====Japanese occupation (1910-1945)====
In the late 16th century, Korea experienced the first invasions by the Japanese, then led by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. However, an alliance between the Joseon dynasty and China's Ming dynasty eventually defeated the invaders, and this, in addition to the untimely death of Hideyoshi, forced the Japanese to pull out of Korea.
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Korea's status as an independent kingdom under the Chinese sphere of cultural influence (사대교린) ended in 1895 after China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese War and the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Under the terms of the treaty, Qing Dynasty of China was to recognize the severing of the several centuries-old, nominal elder-younger brother relationship between China and Korea, bringing Japan the window of opportunity to force Korea into its own growing sphere of influence. Although the elder-younger brother relationship between China and Joseon was a voluntary diplomatic formality assumed by Joseon's rulers in order to receive the benefits of advanced Chinese culture and trade, it was a symbolic victory for Japan to achieve the breakage of this link. It put Japan in a position extend its imperialism into Korea without fear of Chinese intervention. In 1910, Japan annexed Korea, thus beginning a 35-year occupation of the country. Despite numerous armed rebellions, assassinations and intellectual and cultural resistance, suppression and a cultural assimilation policy that included forcing Koreans to take Japanese names and forbidding them to speak the Korean language allowed Japan to maintain colonial control.
 
+
Korea's status as a Chinese protectorate ended in 1895 after China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese War and the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Under the terms of the treaty, Qing Dynasty of China was to recognize the independence of Korea, allowing Japan to exert its influence. In 1910, Japan officially annexed Korea, thus beginning a 35-year occupation of the country. There were numerous rebellions, but through suppression and a cultural assimilation policy that included forcing Koreans to take Japanese names and forbidding them to speak the Korean language, Japan maintained colonial control.
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 +
====Division====
 
After Japan's defeat in World War II, Soviet forces occupied the northern half of Korea while US forces occupied the southern half. North and South each declared independence as separate states in 1948, with Kim Il-Sung establishing a communist regime with the support of Soviet Union in the north, and Syngman Rhee establishing a capitalist regime with the support of the United States in the south. The disastrous Korean War, which destroyed much of the country, began in 1950 when Kim Il-Sung attacked the south. US and other UN forces intervened on South Korea's side, while the Soviet Union and China supported the North. An armistice was signed in 1953 splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone, with no significant territorial gains made by either side. But a peace treaty has never been signed, and the two Koreas remain technically at war with each other to this day.
 
After Japan's defeat in World War II, Soviet forces occupied the northern half of Korea while US forces occupied the southern half. North and South each declared independence as separate states in 1948, with Kim Il-Sung establishing a communist regime with the support of Soviet Union in the north, and Syngman Rhee establishing a capitalist regime with the support of the United States in the south. The disastrous Korean War, which destroyed much of the country, began in 1950 when Kim Il-Sung attacked the south. US and other UN forces intervened on South Korea's side, while the Soviet Union and China supported the North. An armistice was signed in 1953 splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone, with no significant territorial gains made by either side. But a peace treaty has never been signed, and the two Koreas remain technically at war with each other to this day.
  
 
====Republic of Korea====
 
====Republic of Korea====
 
 
Despite initially being economically outdone by its northern rival, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth starting in the 1960s under the leadership of former military general President Park Chung Hee. As one of the East Asian Tigers, the South Korean economy's industrialization and modernization efforts gained traction in the 1980s and 1990s, with per capita income rising to 20 times the level of North Korea. In 1996, South Korea joined the OECD or "the rich nations club". Today, South Korea has been recognized as an industrialized, developed economy with some of the world's leading high technology corporations such as Samsung and LG.  
 
Despite initially being economically outdone by its northern rival, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth starting in the 1960s under the leadership of former military general President Park Chung Hee. As one of the East Asian Tigers, the South Korean economy's industrialization and modernization efforts gained traction in the 1980s and 1990s, with per capita income rising to 20 times the level of North Korea. In 1996, South Korea joined the OECD or "the rich nations club". Today, South Korea has been recognized as an industrialized, developed economy with some of the world's leading high technology corporations such as Samsung and LG.  
  
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South Korea is now a liberal democracy and an economic powerhouse. In June 2000, a historic first summit took place between the South's President Kim Dae-jung and the North's late leader Kim Jong-il (leading Kim Dae-jung to be awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize for South Korea), but the peace process has moved at a glacial pace.  
 
South Korea is now a liberal democracy and an economic powerhouse. In June 2000, a historic first summit took place between the South's President Kim Dae-jung and the North's late leader Kim Jong-il (leading Kim Dae-jung to be awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize for South Korea), but the peace process has moved at a glacial pace.  
  
In recent years, a phenomenon known as the "Korean Wave" (or ''Hallyu'') in which the popularity of South Korean film, television, music, food and other culture aspects has swept most of Asia and many other parts of the world has brought increased attention to the country.
+
In recent years, a phenomenon known as the "Korean Wave" (or ''Hallyu'') in which the popularity of South Korean film, television, music, food and other culture aspects has swept most of Asia and many other parts of the world has brought increased attention to the country. The country elected its first female president in 2012.
  
 
===People===
 
===People===
[[Image:Namdaemun Buildings.JPG|thumb|240px|Namdaemun Gate, [[Seoul]] (presently under reconstruction)]]
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[[Image:Namdaemun Buildings.JPG|thumb|upright=1.3|Namdaemun Gate, [[Seoul]] (presently under reconstruction)]]
  
 
South Korea is a very homogeneous country, with nearly all native residents identifying themselves as ethnically Korean and speaking the Korean language. The largest resident minority are the Chinese, numbering around 20,000-30,000. However, there is a number of foreign laborers from China, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia and other parts of world as well as English teachers from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. In addition, about 30,000 American military personnel are stationed throughout the country, especially near the [[DMZ]]. South Korea's large and growing economy has attracted people from all over the world and Seoul's status as a leading financial center has brought many financial workers from North America, Europe and Japan. Today, over one million foreigners reside in South Korea.
 
South Korea is a very homogeneous country, with nearly all native residents identifying themselves as ethnically Korean and speaking the Korean language. The largest resident minority are the Chinese, numbering around 20,000-30,000. However, there is a number of foreign laborers from China, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia and other parts of world as well as English teachers from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. In addition, about 30,000 American military personnel are stationed throughout the country, especially near the [[DMZ]]. South Korea's large and growing economy has attracted people from all over the world and Seoul's status as a leading financial center has brought many financial workers from North America, Europe and Japan. Today, over one million foreigners reside in South Korea.
  
It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, but also has one of the world's lowest birthrates (1.21 children per woman). Dealing with this very low birthrate will be one of the major problems for this country in the 21st century. Confucian attitudes about the importance of a male heir have led to a strongly skewed sex ratio, with about 112 men for every 100 women encouraging many Korean men in rural areas to seek wives from other countries such as China, Vietnam and the Philippines. About 85% of South Koreans live in urban areas.
+
It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, but also has one of the world's lowest birthrates (1.21 children per woman). Confucian attitudes about the importance of a male heir have led to a markedly skewed sex ratio, with about 112 men for every 100 women. This encourages many Korean men in rural areas to seek wives from other countries such as China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Although the imbalanced gender ration is a plausible explanation for the low birth rate, it may be that other social conditions do not encourage child rearing with job insecurity and long working hours, etc. About 85% of South Koreans live in urban areas.
  
Though East Asian tourists have been visiting Korea in droves since the turn of the millenium due to the Korean Wave (also known as 한류 ''hallyu''), it is still largely off the radar of most Western tourists. As such, having locals stare or listen to your conversations is still somewhat a common experience among Westerners visiting Korea. Children in particular will approach you or shout a "Hi!" in passing. Much of this is done out of curiosity and eagerness to hear English spoken by native speakers. Although most Koreans have been educated in English since elementary school and most companies set a premium on possessing a certain level of fluency, in general the people will find it difficult to understand or speak it. However, some city dwellers can speak at a basic level. Tourists will normally find Koreans to be quite friendly and helpful when trying to find their way around.
+
Though East Asian tourists have been visiting Korea in droves since the turn of the millenium due to the Korean Wave (also known as 한류 ''hallyu''), it is still largely off the radar of most Western tourists. As such, having locals stare or listen to your conversations is still somewhat a common experience among Westerners visiting Korea. Children in particular will approach you or shout a "Hi!" in passing. Much of this is done out of curiosity and eagerness to hear English spoken by native speakers. Although most Koreans have been educated in English since elementary school and most companies set a premium on possessing a certain level of fluency, in general the people will find it difficult to understand or speak it. However, many city dwellers can speak at a basic level. Tourists will normally find Koreans to be quite friendly and helpful when trying to find their way around.
  
 
===Culture===
 
===Culture===
[[Image:Changdeokgung Bedchamber Detail.JPG|thumb|240px|Decoration of a royal palace, Changdeokgung, [[Seoul]]]]
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[[Image:Changdeokgung Bedchamber Detail.JPG|thumb|Decoration of a royal palace, Changdeokgung, [[Seoul]]]]
 
+
 
Having been in the cultural sphere of China for much of its history, substantial Chinese influences are evident in traditional Korean culture. Nevertheless, many fundamental differences remain and Korea has managed to retain a distinct cultural identity from its larger neighbor. Koreans are fiercely proud of their heritage and their resistance to outside domination.
 
Having been in the cultural sphere of China for much of its history, substantial Chinese influences are evident in traditional Korean culture. Nevertheless, many fundamental differences remain and Korea has managed to retain a distinct cultural identity from its larger neighbor. Koreans are fiercely proud of their heritage and their resistance to outside domination.
  
During the Joseon dynasty, Korea's dominant philosophy was a strict form of Confucianism, perhaps even more strict than the Chinese original.  People were separated into a rigid hierarchy, with the king at the apex, an elite of officials and warriors and a small group of nobility below him, a middle class of merchants below them, and then a vast population of peasants. The educated were superior to the uneducated, women served men, and everybody stuck to a defined role or faced severe consequences. While Korea adopted its own version of the imperial examination system used in China to select officials, unlike its Chinese counterpart which was open to the general public, the Korean imperial examination was only open to those from the aristocratic or ''yangban'' class. Buddhism and its supposedly dangerous notions of equality and individual spiritual pursuit were suppressed.   While the Joseon dynasty ceased to exist in 1910, its legacy lives on in Korean culture: education and hard work are valued above all else, and women still struggle for equal treatment.   
+
During the Joseon dynasty, Korea's dominant philosophy was a strict form of Confucianism, perhaps even more strict than the Chinese original.  People were separated into a rigid hierarchy, with the king at the apex, an elite of officials and warriors and a small group of nobility below him, a middle class of merchants below them, and then a vast population of peasants. The educated were superior to the uneducated, women served men, and everybody stuck to a defined role or faced severe consequences. Korea adopted its own version of the imperial examination system invented by and used in China to select officials, creating somewhat of a premodern meritocracy for government like its Chinese counterpart. Buddhism was suppressed largely due to the widespread corruption and greed of monks and temples during the waning stages of the Goryeo dynasty. While the Joseon dynasty ceased to exist in 1910, its legacy lives on in Korean culture: education and hard work are valued above all else.   
  
 
Koreans believe that the things that set them the most apart from other Asian cultures are their cuisine, their language and their ''hangul'' script.  Outsiders will note their extreme modernity, tempered by a well-developed artistic and architectural joyfulness. Nothing goes undecorated if it can be helped, and they have a knack for stylish interior design. South Korea also has a vibrant film and TV industry, and the country is one of only a few countries in the world in which local films have a greater market share than Hollywood films.
 
Koreans believe that the things that set them the most apart from other Asian cultures are their cuisine, their language and their ''hangul'' script.  Outsiders will note their extreme modernity, tempered by a well-developed artistic and architectural joyfulness. Nothing goes undecorated if it can be helped, and they have a knack for stylish interior design. South Korea also has a vibrant film and TV industry, and the country is one of only a few countries in the world in which local films have a greater market share than Hollywood films.
  
Korea has a significant number of '''Christians''' (29%) and '''Buddhists''' (38%), with churches dotting the towns and temples and monasteries on hills. However, slightly less than a third of the country professes to follow no particular organized religion but most, if not all, are strongly influenced by traditional Korean Buddhist and Confucian philosophies that have been seeped into the Korean cultural background.
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Korea has a significant number of '''Christians''' (31%) and '''Buddhists''' (22%), with churches dotting the towns and temples and monasteries on hills. However, slightly less than a third of the country professes to follow no particular organized religion but most, if not all, are strongly influenced by traditional Korean Buddhist and Confucian philosophies that have been seeped into the Korean cultural background.
  
 
===Sports===
 
===Sports===
'''Baseball''' was brought to Korea by American missionaries in 1905 and is the most popular sport in the country. '''Football''' (soccer) gained popularity when the South Korean national team reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2002. Nevertheless, baseball is the most popular sport with a strong following, with many Korean players becoming famous MLB players in the United States, and the Korean national baseball team is regarded as one of the strongest in the world.
+
'''Baseball''' was brought to Korea by American missionaries in 1905 and is the most popular sport in the country. '''Football''' (soccer) gained popularity when the South Korean national team reached the Korea-Japan World Cup semi-finals in 2002. Nevertheless, baseball is the most popular sport with a strong following, with some Korean players becoming famous MLB players in the United States.
  
 
Other popular sports include golf and basketball. Badminton, table tennis and bowling are also popular and facilities for the public are widely available in cities. Korean martial arts such as '''taekwondo''' are also popular. Golf particularly has a strong following, with membership fees for Korea's top golf clubs being more expensive than those in neighbouring Japan or even the United States. Also, many of the world's top female golfers originate from Korea or are of Korean descent.
 
Other popular sports include golf and basketball. Badminton, table tennis and bowling are also popular and facilities for the public are widely available in cities. Korean martial arts such as '''taekwondo''' are also popular. Golf particularly has a strong following, with membership fees for Korea's top golf clubs being more expensive than those in neighbouring Japan or even the United States. Also, many of the world's top female golfers originate from Korea or are of Korean descent.
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===Holidays===
 
===Holidays===
Korea's traditional holidays follow the lunar calendar, so they fall on different days each year. The two biggest, Seollal and Chuseok, are family holidays and entail everybody returning to their hometowns en masse, meaning that '''all forms of transport''' are absolutely packed.
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Korea's traditional holidays follow the lunar calendar, so they fall on different days each year. The two biggest, Seollal and Chuseok, are family holidays and entail everybody returning to their hometowns en masse, meaning that '''all forms of long-distance transport''' are absolutely packed.
 
*'''Shinjeong''' (신정), means New Years day: on the 1st day, January
 
*'''Shinjeong''' (신정), means New Years day: on the 1st day, January
 
*'''Seollal''' (설날), on the 1st day of the 1st month in the lunar calendar, is also known as "Korean New Year". Families gather together, eat traditional foods-especially ''Ddugguk'' (떡국) and perform an ancestral service. The public holiday lasts for 3 days, which includes the eve and second day. Many shops and restaurants close for the 3 days, so this might not be an ideal time to visit.
 
*'''Seollal''' (설날), on the 1st day of the 1st month in the lunar calendar, is also known as "Korean New Year". Families gather together, eat traditional foods-especially ''Ddugguk'' (떡국) and perform an ancestral service. The public holiday lasts for 3 days, which includes the eve and second day. Many shops and restaurants close for the 3 days, so this might not be an ideal time to visit.
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===Climate===
 
===Climate===
 +
Korea has four distinct seasons:
  
Korea has clear four seasons. Of course it is a blessed thing for us. We can see various scenes all around.
+
* '''Spring''' is a great time of year to be in Korea. The temperatures are warm but not hot and there's not too much rain either. However, spring is also the time when yellow dust blows over from China. Some days can be horrible to breathe because of this. Beautiful cherry blossoms bloom.
* '''Spring''' is a great time of year to be in Korea. The temperatures are warm, but not hot and there's not too much rain either. However, spring is also the time when yellow dust blows over from China. Some days can be horrible to breathe because of this. In this season, we can see go cherry-blossoms with our family or friends. I assure that you will must have a great memory in here, in this season.
+
  
 
* '''Summer''' starts with a dreary rainy season (장마철,jangma-cheol) in June and turns into a steambath in July-August, with extreme humidity and the temperature heading as high as 35&deg;C. Best avoided unless heading to the beaches. Summer is a suitable season for go swimming to the beach in Korea. Moreover, trees in summer are in leaf.  
 
* '''Summer''' starts with a dreary rainy season (장마철,jangma-cheol) in June and turns into a steambath in July-August, with extreme humidity and the temperature heading as high as 35&deg;C. Best avoided unless heading to the beaches. Summer is a suitable season for go swimming to the beach in Korea. Moreover, trees in summer are in leaf.  
  
* '''Autumn''', starting in September, is perhaps the best time to be in Korea. Temperatures and humidity become more tolerable, fair days are common and the justly renowned '''fall colors''' make their appearance. There's a romantic part and also it has a feeling of loneliness. We can relaxed between Summer and Winter.
+
* '''Autumn''', starting in September, is perhaps the best time to be in Korea. Temperatures and humidity become more tolerable, fair days are common and the justly renowned '''fall colors''' make their appearance.  
  
* '''Winter''' is a good time to go skiing or hot-spring hopping, and the Korean invention of ''ondol'' (floor heating) helps defrost any parts that froze outside. However, January and February can be bone-biting cold due to Siberian winds from the north. There's a enough snow in Korea. Thus we can enjoy the snow fully fun. How about walking on the romantic road covered with snow walking with your lover on Christmas? It'll be very nice for you.
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* '''Winter''' is a good time to go skiing or hot-spring hopping, and the Korean invention of ''ondol'' (floor heating) helps defrost any parts that froze outside. However, January and February can be bone-biting cold due to Siberian winds from the north. Snow is fairly common.
  
 
===Electricity===
 
===Electricity===
 
 
South Korean households and hotels use the same dual round sockets for their electrical outlets as are found in most of Continental Europe. Anyone bringing an electronic device is advised to bring some adapter should their charger's plug be something other than the dual round type. However, some hotels may provide an adapter for you to use which you can query from reception. However, they may ask you for a deposit should you want to borrow.
 
South Korean households and hotels use the same dual round sockets for their electrical outlets as are found in most of Continental Europe. Anyone bringing an electronic device is advised to bring some adapter should their charger's plug be something other than the dual round type. However, some hotels may provide an adapter for you to use which you can query from reception. However, they may ask you for a deposit should you want to borrow.
  
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==Regions==  
 
==Regions==  
 
 
{{Regionlist
 
{{Regionlist
 
| regionmap=South Korea regions map.png
 
| regionmap=South Korea regions map.png
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}}
 
}}
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[[File:P'yŏngan-namdo (ROK).jpg|thumb|320px|South Korean claimed provinces of North Korea.]]
  
 
==Cities==
 
==Cities==
 
 
<!-- Keep this list limited to the 9 most important cities for tourists -->
 
<!-- Keep this list limited to the 9 most important cities for tourists -->
<!-- Keep this list limited to the 9 most important cities for tourists -->
 
<!-- Keep this list limited to the 9 most important cities for tourists -->
 
 
 
 
*[[Seoul]] (서울) &mdash; the dynamic 600 year old capital of South Korea, a fusion of the ancient and modern
 
*[[Seoul]] (서울) &mdash; the dynamic 600 year old capital of South Korea, a fusion of the ancient and modern
 
*[[Busan]] (부산, 釜山) &mdash; the second largest city and a major port city of Korea.
 
*[[Busan]] (부산, 釜山) &mdash; the second largest city and a major port city of Korea.
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<!-- Keep this list limited to the 9 most important other destinations for tourists -->
 
<!-- Keep this list limited to the 9 most important other destinations for tourists -->
 
<!-- Keep this list limited to the 9 most important other destinations for tourists -->
 
<!-- Keep this list limited to the 9 most important other destinations for tourists -->
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*[[Jirisan National Park]] &mdash; the oldest, largest and probably most famous national park of South Korea
 
*[[Seoraksan National Park]] &mdash; spread out over four cities and counties, the country's most renowned national park and mountain range
 
*[[Seoraksan National Park]] &mdash; spread out over four cities and counties, the country's most renowned national park and mountain range
 
*[[Andong]] &mdash; historically rich in Confucious traditions and home of living folk village
 
*[[Andong]] &mdash; historically rich in Confucious traditions and home of living folk village
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*[[Ulleungdo]] &mdash; scenic remote island off the east coast of peninsula
 
*[[Ulleungdo]] &mdash; scenic remote island off the east coast of peninsula
  
==Get in==  
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==Visiting==
The nationals of 109 countries and territories, including all the usual suspects, will receive a visa on arrival valid for 30 to 90 days; see the official Hi Korea site [http://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/InfoDetailR_en.pt?categoryId=2&parentId=382&catSeq=&showMenuId=374] for the latest details. Rules for visiting only [[Jeju]] are even more lenient, allowing in everybody ''except'' citizens of 11 countries.  Don't overstay, even by a single day &mdash; this incurs heavy fines and possible jail time, and you'll probably be banned from re-entering.
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Military personnel travelling under the SOFA for South Korea are not required to possess a passport for entry, provided they hold a copy of their travel orders and a military ID. On the other hand, dependents '''must hold a passport and A-3 visa for entry'''.
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{{infobox|Caution|Please note that the South Korea Immigration authorities have recently started '''fingerprinting''' and taking digital face pictures of visitors on arrival. These fingerprints and images may well find their way to your country's authorities or non-state agencies.}}
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The nationals of 109 countries and territories, including all the usual suspects, will receive a visa on arrival valid for 30 to 90 days; see [http://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/InfoDetailR_en.pt?categoryId=2&parentId=382&catSeq=&showMenuId=374 Hi Korea] for the latest details. Rules for visiting only [[Jeju]] are even more lenient, allowing in everybody ''except'' citizens of 11 countries. Don't overstay, even by a single day &mdash; this incurs heavy fines and possible jail time, and you'll probably be banned from re-entering.
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Military personnel travelling under the SOFA for South Korea are not required to possess a passport for entry, provided they hold a copy of their travel orders and a military ID. On the other hand, dependants '''must hold a passport and A-3 visa for entry'''.
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Most foreigners staying longer than 90 days must register with the authorities within 90 days of entry and obtain an ''Alien Registration Card''. Contact your local authorities for further information.
  
 
===By plane===
 
===By plane===
South Korea has 7 international airports: Busan(Gimhae Airport),Cheongju, Daegu, Jeju, Muan, Seoul(Gimpo Airport and Incheon Int. Airport). Note that South Korea experienced an airport building frenzy, and that today many of the smaller international airports do not have regular services.
 
  
*[[Seoul#By plane|Incheon International Airport]], about 1 hour west of Seoul, is the country's largest airport, with good connections throughout the world.  This is also arguably ''the best run and best designed airport in the world'' - a pleasure to use, although if you arrive late watch out for pushy taxi drivers lying about the hotel buses and trying to get you to pay 3x the normal fare. There are direct inter-city buses to many locations throughout South Korea just outside the international arrival hall. You can buy the tickets at the airport. The airport has a new express train that goes directly to Seoul Station. (In fact you can check in to your flight in Seoul station)
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South Korea has 7 international airports: Busan (Gimhae Airport), Cheongju, Daegu, Jeju, Muan, Seoul (Gimpo Airport and Incheon International Airport). South Korea experienced an airport building frenzy and today many of the smaller international airports do not have regular services.
  
*[[Busan]]'s Gimhae airport has international connections to Japan, China, Hong Kong, Phillipines and Vietnam. There is also a Lufthansa flight from [Munich], Germany. Ginhae also has a few flights a day directly from Seoul Incheon, which is much more convenient than changing to Seoul Gimpo airport after a long international flight.
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*'''[[Seoul#By plane|Incheon International Airport]]''', about 1 hour west of Seoul, is the country's largest airport, with good connections throughout the world. This is also one of the ''the best run and best designed airports in the world'' - a pleasure to use, although if you arrive late watch out for pushy taxi drivers lying about the hotel buses and trying to get you to pay 3x the normal fare. There are direct inter-city buses to many locations throughout South Korea just outside the international arrival hall. You can buy the tickets at the airport. The airport has a new express train that goes directly to Seoul Station. (In fact you can check in to your flight in Seoul station).<br />
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Seoul Incheon is served by most of the larger international airlines, and most of the rest offer code share flights. While the domestic Korean Air and Asiana offer the most flights, there are daily flights from a couple dozen operators, these include, from Europe: Air France, British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, Finnair, Aeroflot and Turkish Airlines, from North America: Air Canada, American, Delta, United, Hawaiian Airlines, and Thai Airways. Many airlines also offer connecting service through Tokyo-Narita (often code shared with JAL or ANA), or anouther hub in Asia, such as [http://www.singaporeair.com Singapore Airlines] via [[Singapore]] and Cathay Pacific via [[Hong Kong]]. JAL, ANA, and Korean Air connect many South Korean and Japanese cities, and larger Japanese cities are often served by budget airlines as well.
  
*[[Jeju]] fields flights from most South Korean cities, as well as international flights to nearby major Japanese and Chinese cities.
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*'''Seoul Gimpo airport''' is more centrally located to Seoul than Incheon, but it offers primarilly domestic flights to most South Korean cities. There are, however, a few routes offering international "city shuttle" services to many Asain cities such as Tokyo-Haneda, Osaka, Nagoya, Beijing, Shanghai-Hongqiao and Taipei-Songshan. If you are transfering in one of these city, it might worth an attempt to find a conecting flight to the more convient Gimpo rather than Incheon, but this is often difficult due to these airports also being secondary, primarilly domestic airports. On the ground, you can connect from Incheon airport either by train or by limousine bus in about 1 hour.
  
* Seoul Gimpo aiport offers domestic flights to most South Korean cities, and the international "city shuttle" services from Tokyo-Haneda, Beijing and Shanghai-Hongqiao are quite convenient. You can connect from Incheon airport eigher by train or by limosine bus.
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*'''[[Busan]]'s Gimhae airport''' has international connections to China, Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. There is also a Lufthansa flight from Munich, Germany via Incheon but the flight has no Eighth Freedom rights to transport passengers between Busan and Seoul. Gimhae also has a few flights a day directly from Seoul Incheon, which is much more convenient than changing to Seoul Gimpo Airport after a long international flight.
  
Korean Air [http://www.koreanair.com/] and Asiana [http://www.flyasiana.com/] are the principal carriers to and from South KoreaThere are a growing number of budget airlines including  [http://www.airbusan.com/AB/airbusan/english/main.jsp Air Busan] and [http://en.jejuair.net Jeju Air] that fly both domestic and international routes.
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*'''[[Jeju]]''' has flights from most South Korean cities, as well as international flights to nearby major Taiwanese, Japanese and Chinese cities including Hong Kong.   
  
Seoul Incheon is server by many international airline. The (''not complete'') list includes Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Finnair, Aeroflot and Turkish Airlines Europe. United, Northwest and Delta all serve Seoul-Incheon from the United States, although many flights stop over in Tokyo-Narita. Singapore Airlines [http://www.singaporeair.com] flies from [[Singapore]]. Cathay Pacific flies from [[Hong Kong]]. JAL and ANA connect many South Korean and Japanese cities.
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[http://www.koreanair.com/ Korean Air] and [http://www.flyasiana.com/ Asiana] are the principal carriers to and from South Korea. There are a growing number of budget airlines including  [http://www.airbusan.com/AB/airbusan/english/main.jsp Air Busan], Jin Air, Eastar Jet and [http://en.jejuair.net Jeju Air] that fly both domestic and international routes.
  
 
===By train===
 
===By train===
Travel from North Korea (and hence anywhere else in Asia) to South Korea by train remains impossible in practice.  There have been a few test runs on the newly rebuilt railroad connecting the two, but it will likely remain more of a political statement than travel option for some time to come. However, for travelers coming from or continuing on to [[Japan]], special through tickets [http://www.korail.go.kr/2003/eng/html/sche/f_sche_007.html] are available, giving discounts of 30% on KTX services and 9-30% on Busan-Fukuoka ferries as well as Japanese trains.
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Travel from North Korea (and hence anywhere else in Asia) to South Korea by train remains impossible in practice.  There have been a few test runs on the newly rebuilt railroad connecting the two, but it will likely remain more of a political statement than travel option for some time to come. However, for travelers coming from or continuing on to [[Japan]], [http://www.korail.go.kr/2003/eng/html/sche/f_sche_007.html special through tickets] are available, giving discounts of 30% on KTX services and 9-30% on Busan-Fukuoka ferries as well as Japanese trains.
  
 
===By boat===  
 
===By boat===  
Busan Port International Passenger Terminal [http://www.busanferry.co.kr/service?id=en_index] is the largest seaport in the country and offers ferry rides mostly to and from Japan. There are fairly frequent ferry connections from [[Busan]] to Japan. [http://www.jrbeetle.co.jp/english/ JR's Beetle] hydrofoil service from Busan to [[Fukuoka]] manages the trip in just under three hours with up to five connections a day, but all other links are overnight slow ferries, such as Pukwan Ferry Company [http://www.pukwan.co.kr/]'s services to [[Shimonoseki]] from cost from $US60 (one-way). A Busan-[[Osaka]] ferry is operated by Panstar Line Co., Ltd. [http://panstarline.com].
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[http://www.busanferry.co.kr/service?id=en_index Busan Port International Passenger Terminal] is the largest seaport in Korea and offers ferry rides mostly to and from Japan. There are fairly frequent ferry connections from [[Busan]] to Japan. [http://www.jrbeetle.co.jp/internet/english/ JR Kyushu's Beetle] hydrofoil service from Busan to [[Fukuoka]] is the most popular which travels to Fukuoka in just under three hours with up to five connections a day. It also offers service to near by Tsushima. All other links are slower, overnight, ferries, such as [http://www.pukwan.co.kr/ Pukwan Ferry Company]'s services to [[Shimonoseki]] cost ? (one-way). A Busan-[[Osaka]] ferry is operated by [http://panstarline.com Panstar Line Co., Ltd.].
  
 
[[Incheon]]'s International Ferry Terminal 1 (Yeonan Budu, 연안부두) has services to several cities in China, such as
 
[[Incheon]]'s International Ferry Terminal 1 (Yeonan Budu, 연안부두) has services to several cities in China, such as
 
[[Weihai]], [[Dandong]], [[Qingdao]] and [[Tianjin]]. The largest operator is '''Jinchon''' [http://www.jinchon.co.kr/], but Incheon Port has full listings on their website [http://www.incheonferry.co.kr/].  The Chinese ports of [[Rizhao]], [[Rongcheng]] and [[Lianyungang]], all in [[Shandong]] province, can also be accessed by ferry from [[Pyeongtaek]].
 
[[Weihai]], [[Dandong]], [[Qingdao]] and [[Tianjin]]. The largest operator is '''Jinchon''' [http://www.jinchon.co.kr/], but Incheon Port has full listings on their website [http://www.incheonferry.co.kr/].  The Chinese ports of [[Rizhao]], [[Rongcheng]] and [[Lianyungang]], all in [[Shandong]] province, can also be accessed by ferry from [[Pyeongtaek]].
  
There are also weekly departures from [[Sokcho]] (Gangwon-do) to [[Vladivostok]] from US$270 operated by Dong Chun Ferry Co. Ltd. [http://www.dongchunferry.co.kr].
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There are also weekly departures from [[Sokcho]] (Gangwon-do) to [[Vladivostok]] from USD270 operated by [http://www.dongchunferry.co.kr Dong Chun Ferry Co. Ltd.].
  
 
===By land===
 
===By land===
Due both to its location at the end of the Korean peninsula and the political situation with North Korea, entering South Korea overland is practically not possible. The border between North and South Korea is considered the most heavily fortified border in the world, and while some crossings have occurred at the truce village of [[Panmunjeom]], one of the cases (a Soviet defector in 1984) was shot at by both sides and, although he survived, you might not be so lucky. In the 80's and the early 90's most of those who crossed the border either way would be arrested and prosecuted for reasons mostly referred to as 'threatening national security'.
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Due both to its location at the end of the Korean peninsula and the political situation with North Korea, entering South Korea overland is practically impossible. The border between North and South Korea is considered the most heavily fortified border in the world, and while some crossings have occurred at the truce village of [[Panmunjeom]], one of the cases (a Soviet defector in 1984) was shot at by both sides and, although he survived, you might not be so lucky. In the 80's and the early 90's most of those who crossed the border either way would be arrested and prosecuted for reasons mostly referred to as 'threatening national security'.
  
 
==Get around==
 
==Get around==
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South Korea is fairly compact and you can get anywhere very fast if you fly, and reasonably fast even if you don't. Subways are available in most of the cities including metropolitan Seoul. Larger cities currently have service or are developing subways. Travel by bus or taxi is easily available, though bus service is more economical.  
 
South Korea is fairly compact and you can get anywhere very fast if you fly, and reasonably fast even if you don't. Subways are available in most of the cities including metropolitan Seoul. Larger cities currently have service or are developing subways. Travel by bus or taxi is easily available, though bus service is more economical.  
 
   
 
   
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National train operator '''Korail''' [http://www.korail.go.kr] connects major cities in South Korea.  Neglected for a long time, a large amount of money has been plowed into the network in recent years and trains are now quite competitive with buses on speed and price, and much safer and more comfortable to boot.  The main problem is that the network is still a little limited and services in rural areas are limited, with trains only once every few hours.
 
National train operator '''Korail''' [http://www.korail.go.kr] connects major cities in South Korea.  Neglected for a long time, a large amount of money has been plowed into the network in recent years and trains are now quite competitive with buses on speed and price, and much safer and more comfortable to boot.  The main problem is that the network is still a little limited and services in rural areas are limited, with trains only once every few hours.
  
Particularly useful are the high-speed '''Korea Train eXpress''' ('''KTX''') [http://ktx.korail.go.kr/] services between [[Seoul]] and [[Busan]] via [[Daegu]], [[Daejeon]] and often [[Ulsan]], which use French TGV technology to zip along at up to 300 km/h.  The fastest non-stop trains cover the distance in just over two hours.  The KTX trains have 18 cars with the first 3 being first class and the rest reserved economy seating except the very last car (number 18) which is open seating.  There are drink vending machines on board and an attendant that comes by with a snack cart which includes reasonably priced beer, soda, cookies, candy, sausages, hardboiled eggs, and ''kimbap'' (rice rolls).   
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Particularly useful are the high-speed '''Korea Train eXpress''' ('''KTX''') [http://ktx.korail.go.kr/] services between [[Seoul]] and [[Busan]] via [[Daegu]], [[Daejeon]] and often [[Ulsan]], which use French TGV technology to zip along at up to 300km/h.  The fastest non-stop trains cover the distance in just over two hours.  The KTX trains have 18 cars with the first 3 being first class and the rest reserved economy seating except the very last car (number 18) which is open seating.  There are drink vending machines on board and an attendant that comes by with a snack cart which includes reasonably priced beer, soda, cookies, candy, sausages, hardboiled eggs, and ''kimbap'' (rice rolls).   
  
 
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</div>
  
Non-KTX trains are poetically ranked as ''Saemaeul'' (새마을, "New Village"), ''Mugunghwa'' (무궁화, "Rose of Sharon") and ''Tonggeun'' (통근), corresponding roughly to express, semi-express and local services.  Saemaeul trains are a little pricier than buses, while Mugunghwa are about 30% cheaper. However Saemaeul trains are extremely comfortable, having seats that are comparable to business class seats on airplanes. Though with the introduction of the KTX, there are much fewer Saemaeul and Mugunghwa services, they are worth trying them out. Tonggeun, formerly ''Tonggil'', are cheapest of all, but long-distance, non-aircon services have been phased out and they're now limited to short stopping commuter services. Most longer-distance trains have an entertainment car with a small cafe/bar, computers with internet access (W500 for 15 minutes) and a few trains even have private compartments with coin-operated karaoke machines!
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Non-KTX trains are poetically ranked as ''Saemaeul'' (새마을, "New Village"), ''Mugunghwa'' (무궁화, "Rose of Sharon") and ''Tonggeun'' (통근), corresponding roughly to express, semi-express and local services.  Saemaeul trains are a little pricier than buses, while Mugunghwa are about 30% cheaper. However Saemaeul trains are extremely comfortable, having seats that are comparable to business class seats on airplanes. Though with the introduction of the KTX, there are much fewer Saemaeul and Mugunghwa services, they are worth trying them out. Tonggeun, formerly ''Tonggil'', are cheapest of all, but long-distance, non-aircon services have been phased out and they're now limited to short stopping commuter services. Most longer-distance trains have an entertainment car with a small cafe/bar, computers with internet access (KRW500 for 15 minutes) and a few trains even have private compartments with coin-operated karaoke machines!
  
 
Smoking is not permitted on any Korean trains or stations (including open platforms).
 
Smoking is not permitted on any Korean trains or stations (including open platforms).
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===By Rail Cruise===
 
===By Rail Cruise===
 
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[http://www.korailtravel.com/en/Goods/pten_index.asp?PageUrl=PackageTours_04 Korail Tourism Development] provides a series of rail cruise tour which enable customers to travel to sight-seeing destinations in Korea via specially designed luxury trains. Note that these trains are not covered by the KR Pass, below.
Korail Tourism Development [http://www.korailtravel.com/en/Goods/pten_index.asp?PageUrl=PackageTours_04] provides a rail cruise tour which enables the customers to travel to all the major siteseeing destinations in Korea with just one luxury train ride.
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====KR Pass====
 
====KR Pass====
The '''KR Pass''' [http://info.korail.com/2007/eng/etr/etr02000/w_etr02100.jsp] is a special rail pass introduced in 2005 for non-resident foreigners only, allowing unlimited travel for a set period on any Korail train (including KTX) and including free seat reservation.  The pass is ''not'' valid for first class or sleeping cars, but you can upgrade for half price if you wish.  The regular pass costs 58,200/84,600/127,000/160,400/185,100 won for 1/3/5/7/10 days, with additional discounts of 10-20% for youths (age 13-25), students and groups of 2-5 traveling together. The pass must be purchased '''at least five days before travel''' (preferably before arrival in Korea), and already took an incredible amount of travel (eg. Seoul-Busan roundtrip) to pay off, even prior to the 2011 jacking-up of prices. Serious limitations on usage apply during Korean holidays and peak travelling periods including Lunar New Year in February and Chuseok in September.
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The '''KR Pass''' [http://info.korail.com/2007/eng/etr/etr02000/w_etr02100.jsp] is a special rail pass introduced in 2005 for non-resident foreigners only, allowing unlimited travel for a set period on any Korail train (including KTX) and including free seat reservation.  The pass is ''not'' valid for first class or sleeping cars, but you can upgrade for half price if you wish.  The regular pass costs KRW58,200/84,600/127,000/160,400/185,100 for 1/3/5/7/10 days, with additional discounts of 10-20% for youths (age 13-25), students and groups of 2-5 traveling together. The pass must be purchased '''at least five days before travel''' (preferably before arrival in Korea), and already took an incredible amount of travel (eg. Seoul-Busan roundtrip) to pay off, even prior to the 2011 jacking-up of prices. Serious limitations on usage apply during Korean holidays and peak travelling periods including Lunar New Year in February and Chuseok in September.
  
 
Joint '''KR/JR Passes''' between Korea and Japan also exist, however, considering how much of a discount the JR Pass offers, and how strikingly little the KR Pass does by comparison, such a combination in all practicality simply deducts value from the JR Pass. Do the maths.
 
Joint '''KR/JR Passes''' between Korea and Japan also exist, however, considering how much of a discount the JR Pass offers, and how strikingly little the KR Pass does by comparison, such a combination in all practicality simply deducts value from the JR Pass. Do the maths.
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There is a somewhat pointless division of long-distance buses into '''express buses''' (고속버스 ''gosok beoseu'') and '''inter-city buses''' (시외버스 ''si-oe beoseu''), which often use separate terminals to boot. In addition, local '''inner-city bus''' (시내버스 ''si-nae beoseu'') networks often connect directly neighbouring cities. The express vs. intercity bus differentiation comes down to whether the nation's toll expressways (고속 ''gosok'') are traversed. In practical terms, express buses are marginally faster on long runs, but inter-city buses go to more places. For additional comfort, look for Udeung buses (우등 버스) which have just three seats across instead of the usual four; these cost about 50% extra. A fourth layer of bus exists, which is the '''airport limousine bus''', a seperate network of express buses that ferry people directly to and from Incheon International Airport. Note that the airport limousines typically run from seperate pickup points again to the intercity or express bus terminal.
 
There is a somewhat pointless division of long-distance buses into '''express buses''' (고속버스 ''gosok beoseu'') and '''inter-city buses''' (시외버스 ''si-oe beoseu''), which often use separate terminals to boot. In addition, local '''inner-city bus''' (시내버스 ''si-nae beoseu'') networks often connect directly neighbouring cities. The express vs. intercity bus differentiation comes down to whether the nation's toll expressways (고속 ''gosok'') are traversed. In practical terms, express buses are marginally faster on long runs, but inter-city buses go to more places. For additional comfort, look for Udeung buses (우등 버스) which have just three seats across instead of the usual four; these cost about 50% extra. A fourth layer of bus exists, which is the '''airport limousine bus''', a seperate network of express buses that ferry people directly to and from Incheon International Airport. Note that the airport limousines typically run from seperate pickup points again to the intercity or express bus terminal.
  
No Korean buses have toilets, and rest stops are not standard on trips of less than 2 hours duration, so consider thinking twice about that bottle of tea at the terminal.
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Make sure to ask whether it is a or there are direct bus(ses) or opt for the express and real inter-city busses, because local inner-city busses sometime make many stops in between, which can mean 2h 45min for 120km, e.g. Jinju to Joenju.
  
*Korean Express Bus Lines Association [http://www.kobus.co.kr/web/eng/index.jsp]  
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Korean buses have no toilets, and rest stops are not standard on trips of less than 2 hours duration, so think twice about that bottle of tea or soda at the terminal.
:Timetables and fares of the Express bus routes in South Korea
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Korean Express Bus Lines Association [http://www.kobus.co.kr/web/eng/index.jsp]: Timetables and fares of the Express bus routes in South Korea
  
 
===By boat===
 
===By boat===
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===By car===
 
===By car===
An International Driving Permit (IDP) may be used to drive around South Korea. In general, road conditions are good in South Korea and directional signs are in both Korean and English. Car rental rates start from ₩54400 a day for the smallest car for about a week. Traffic moves on the right in South Korea.
 
  
However, if traveling in the big cities, especially Seoul, driving is not recommended as the roads are plagued with traffic jams, with parking expensive and difficult to find, and many drivers tend to get reckless under such conditions, weaving in and out of traffic. Drivers would often try to speed past traffic lights when they are about to turn red, and several cars (including fully-loaded public transit buses) will typically blow-through the light after it has turned red whether pedestrians are in the crosswalk or not. Driving habits in Korea, while not the best, are still significantly better than in [[China]]. Note that road courtesy is almost non-existent in Korean cities and it is best to read up on Korean road culture before attempting to drive.
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The legal driving age in South Korea is '''18'''.
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An International Driving Permit (IDP) may be used to drive around South Korea. In general, road conditions are good in South Korea and directional signs are in both Korean and English. Car rental rates start from ₩54,400 a day for the smallest car for about a week. Traffic moves on the right in South Korea.
 +
 
 +
However, if travelling in the big cities, especially Seoul, driving is not recommended as the roads are plagued with traffic jams, with parking expensive and difficult to find, and many drivers tend to get reckless under such conditions, weaving in and out of traffic. Drivers would often try to speed past traffic lights when they are about to turn red, and several cars (including fully-loaded public transit buses) will typically blow-through the light after it has turned red whether pedestrians are in the crosswalk or not. Driving habits in Korea, while not the best, are still significantly better than in [[China]]. Note that road courtesy is almost non-existent in Korean cities and it is best to read up on Korean road culture before attempting to drive.
  
 
====By taxi====
 
====By taxi====
 
Taxis are a convenient, if somewhat pricey way of getting around the cities, and are sometimes the only practical way of reaching a place. Even in the major cities, you are extremely unlikely to get an English-speaking taxi driver, so it will be necessary to have the name of your destination written in Korean to show your taxi driver. Likewise, get your hotel's business card to show the taxi driver in case you get lost.
 
Taxis are a convenient, if somewhat pricey way of getting around the cities, and are sometimes the only practical way of reaching a place. Even in the major cities, you are extremely unlikely to get an English-speaking taxi driver, so it will be necessary to have the name of your destination written in Korean to show your taxi driver. Likewise, get your hotel's business card to show the taxi driver in case you get lost.
  
Note that whilst technically illegal, cab drivers, particularly the lower-flagfall white cabs on busy Friday or Saturday nights, may deny service to short-distance fares. A very handy technique to counter this is to have your destination (hotel name or just gu and dong, in Korean of course) written in thick black ink on a large A4 sheet of paper and hold it to the traffic. Passing cab drivers responding to long distance call outs, or with space in their cab in addition to an existing fare in that direction will often pick you up en route.
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Note that whilst technically illegal, cab drivers, particularly the lower-flagfall white cabs on busy Friday or Saturday nights, may deny service to short-distance fares. A very handy technique to counter this is to have your destination (hotel name or just gu and dong, in Korean of course) written in thick black ink on a large sheet of paper and hold it to the traffic. Passing cab drivers responding to long distance call outs, or with space in their cab in addition to an existing fare in that direction will often pick you up en route.
  
 
When hailing a cab in particular, ensure you follow the local custom and wave it over with your hand extended but all your fingers extended ''downwards'' and beckoning as opposed to upwards in the Western fashion (this style is reserved for animals).
 
When hailing a cab in particular, ensure you follow the local custom and wave it over with your hand extended but all your fingers extended ''downwards'' and beckoning as opposed to upwards in the Western fashion (this style is reserved for animals).
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Written Korean uses a unique phonetic writing system called '''hangul''' (한글 ''hangeul'') where sounds are stacked up into blocks that represent syllables. It was designed by a committee and looks like, at first glance, all right angles and little circles, but it is remarkably consistent and logical and quite fast to pick up. Many Korean words can also be written with much more complex Chinese characters, known as ''hanja'' (한자, 漢字) in Korean, and these are still occasionally mixed into text but are increasingly few and far between. Nowadays, hanja are mainly used for disambiguation if the meaning is ambiguous when written in hangul. In such instances, the hanja is usually written in parentheses next to the hangul. Hanja are also used to mark ''janggi'' (장기, 將棋) or Korean chess pieces, newspaper headlines, as well as personal names on official documents.  
 
Written Korean uses a unique phonetic writing system called '''hangul''' (한글 ''hangeul'') where sounds are stacked up into blocks that represent syllables. It was designed by a committee and looks like, at first glance, all right angles and little circles, but it is remarkably consistent and logical and quite fast to pick up. Many Korean words can also be written with much more complex Chinese characters, known as ''hanja'' (한자, 漢字) in Korean, and these are still occasionally mixed into text but are increasingly few and far between. Nowadays, hanja are mainly used for disambiguation if the meaning is ambiguous when written in hangul. In such instances, the hanja is usually written in parentheses next to the hangul. Hanja are also used to mark ''janggi'' (장기, 將棋) or Korean chess pieces, newspaper headlines, as well as personal names on official documents.  
  
Learning to read hangul before you arrive in Korea will make traveling much easier, as many signs and menus are written in hangul only.  Even basic pattern-matching tricks come in handy: for example, if you know that a circle at the bottom of a block is read ''-ng'', you can already distinguish [[Pyongyang]] (평양) from [[Seoul]] (서울). Further, the Korean words for many common products — coffee, juice, computer — are often the same as the English words, but will be written in hangul. If you can read hangul, you'll find surviving in Korea surprisingly easy.  
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Learning to read hangul before you arrive in Korea will make travelling much easier, as many signs and menus are written in hangul only.  Even basic pattern-matching tricks come in handy: for example, if you know that a circle at the bottom of a block is read ''-ng'', you can already distinguish [[Pyongyang]] (평양) from [[Seoul]] (서울). Further, the Korean words for many common products — coffee, juice, computer — are often the same as the English words, but will be written in hangul. If you can read hangul, you'll find surviving in Korea surprisingly easy.  
  
 
The spelling of Korean words in Roman letters can be quite inconsistent, so don't be too surprised to see adjacent signs for ''Gwangalli'' and ''Kwanganri'' &mdash; it's the same place.  In 2000, the government officially standardized on the Revised Romanization system also used in Wikitravel, but you will frequently encounter older McCune-Reischauer spellings and just plain weird spellings.  Notably, words beginning with ''g, d, b, j'' may be spelled with ''k, t, p, ch'' instead, and the vowels ''eo '' and ''eu'' may be spelled ''o'' and ''u''.  The letters ''l'', ''r'' and ''n'' also get swapped often, and the vowels ''i'' and ''u'' are sometimes written as ''ee'' and ''oo'' respectively.  In foreign words imported into Korean, ''f'' turns into ''p'', so don't be too surprised by a cup of ''keopi'' (coffee) or a round of ''golpeu'' (golf).
 
The spelling of Korean words in Roman letters can be quite inconsistent, so don't be too surprised to see adjacent signs for ''Gwangalli'' and ''Kwanganri'' &mdash; it's the same place.  In 2000, the government officially standardized on the Revised Romanization system also used in Wikitravel, but you will frequently encounter older McCune-Reischauer spellings and just plain weird spellings.  Notably, words beginning with ''g, d, b, j'' may be spelled with ''k, t, p, ch'' instead, and the vowels ''eo '' and ''eu'' may be spelled ''o'' and ''u''.  The letters ''l'', ''r'' and ''n'' also get swapped often, and the vowels ''i'' and ''u'' are sometimes written as ''ee'' and ''oo'' respectively.  In foreign words imported into Korean, ''f'' turns into ''p'', so don't be too surprised by a cup of ''keopi'' (coffee) or a round of ''golpeu'' (golf).
  
Nearly all Koreans under the age of 40 have taken '''English''' lessons as part of their education, and the English level of the country is being improved by government policy and investments. However, due to lack of practice (as well as fear of mispronunciation), most Koreans have little more than a very basic grasp of English phrases in actual conversation. If you're in a pinch and need someone who speaks English, your best bet would generally be the high school or university students. Reading and writing comes much easier however, and often people will be able to read and understand a considerable amount of English even without any practice with real conversation. Many employees at airlines, hotels and stores catering to international tourists are likely to speak at least basic English. Consequently, travelers can get by in major cities with English only, but it goes without saying that learning basic Korean phrases will make your travel experience more convenient and enjoyable.  
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Nearly all Koreans under the age of 40 have taken '''English''' lessons as part of their education, and the English level of the country is being improved by government policy and investments. However, due to lack of practice (as well as fear of mispronunciation), most Koreans have little more than a very basic grasp of English phrases in actual conversation. If you're in a pinch and need someone who speaks English, your best bet would generally be the high school or university students. Reading and writing comes much easier however, and often people will be able to read and understand a considerable amount of English even without any practice with real conversation. Many employees at airlines, hotels and stores catering to international tourists are likely to speak at least basic English. Consequently, travellers can get by in major cities with English only, but it goes without saying that learning basic Korean phrases will make your travel experience more convenient and enjoyable.  
  
 
A common experience for western travellers in South Korea is to be approached by children interested in practicing their English skills. They will often take a picture of you, as proof they really talked to you.
 
A common experience for western travellers in South Korea is to be approached by children interested in practicing their English skills. They will often take a picture of you, as proof they really talked to you.
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==See==
 
==See==
As South Korea is being a more popular tourist destination, it is hard to list many sightseeing spots here, it would be best to visit pages on specific cities/provinces. However a trip to South Korea is not complete without a visit to the capital, Seoul, and its famous sites, such as the palaces Kyeongbokgung (경복궁), Changdeokgung (창덕궁), Secret Garden (비원), Gwanghwamun (광화문), Seodaemun (서대문), as well as the Seoul Tower (서울타워) accompanied by the famous Teddy Bear Museum. The Banpo bridge (반포대교) turns into beautiful colours at night, and the Yeouido Island (여의도), apart from the famous 63 Building has splendid parks for rollerblading/biking. You can never miss the Han River (한강) if you cross the bridges connecting Kangbuk and Kangnam of Seoul whilst taking a taxi, subway train or bus.
 
  
The Haeundae beach (해운대) in Busan is very beautiful. Families usually go there in the summer, where the view of the sea is best.
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As South Korea is being a more popular tourist destination, it is hard to list many sightseeing spots here, it would be best to visit pages on specific cities/provinces. However a trip to South Korea is not complete without a visit to the capital, '''[[Seoul]]''', and its famous sites, such as the palaces Kyeongbokgung (경복궁), Changdeokgung (창덕궁), Secret Garden (비원), Gwanghwamun (광화문), Seodaemun (서대문), as well as the Seoul Tower (서울타워) accompanied by the famous Teddy Bear Museum. The Banpo bridge (반포대교) turns into beautiful colours at night, and the Yeouido Island (여의도), apart from the famous 63 Building has splendid parks for rollerblading/biking. You can never miss the Han River (한강) if you cross the bridges connecting Kangbuk and Kangnam of Seoul whilst taking a taxi, subway train or bus.
  
'''Korean Demilitarized Zone''' (DMZ) &ndash; On July 27th 1953, The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was established as a cease-fire agreement with a boundary area of 2km between North and South Koreas. It is also said that there are still a lot of landmines buried in DMZ. In addition, Panmunjeom is the only ‘truce village’ of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where tourists could view North and South Koreas without much hostility. It is probably the only unique area without any troops around as the other area separating the two Koreas is the most heavily armed in the world.
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The other major city, '''[[Busan]]''', is also a common area to spend a few days. The city is perhaps most know by tourists for the Haeundae beach (해운대), which is very beautiful and, in the summer, the atmosphere is compairable to beaches in southern France or California. Families in Korea often take summer holidays in this area. There are also many famous temples and historical sites in the area, and as a large city, there are also many popular shopping and cultural destinations.
The Third Tunnel of Aggression, created by North Korea, was discovered in 1978. This tunnel is not more than an hour or 44km away from Seoul and it is 1.7 km long, 2 m high, 2 m wide and about 73m below ground. Black coke was painted on the wall as a camouflage to look like a coal mine.
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Visit the World Heritage cultural sites in [[Gyeongju]] and the natural sites on [[Jeju]] Island.
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*'''Korean Demilitarized Zone''' (DMZ) &ndash; On July 27th 1953, The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was established as a cease-fire agreement with a boundary area of 2km between North and South Koreas. It is also said that there are still a lot of landmines buried in DMZ.
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:In addition, '''[[Panmunjeom]]''' aka '''JSA''' (Joint Security Area) is the only ‘truce village’ of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where tourists can view North and South Korea without much hostility. It is probably the only unique area without many troops around, as the other areas separating the two Koreas is the most heavily armed in the world. Here you can also enter one of the three buildings/bungalows that are located on top of the border aka MDL, which means you can virtually/actually cross the border when entering those buildings. The border is indicated by the concrete line where North and South Korean soldiers face each other coldly. The purpose of those buildings is for family meetings and negotiations. This place is know from many pictures and the tour includes the bridge of no return, which is situated in the same location.
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:'''The Third Tunnel of Aggression''', created by North Korea, was discovered in 1978. This tunnel is not more than an hour or 44km away from Seoul and it is 1.7 km long, 2 m high, 2 m wide and about 73m below ground. Black coke was painted on the wall as a camouflage to look like a coal mine. 
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The World Heritage cultural sites in '''[[Gyeongju]]''' and the natural sites on '''[[Jeju]]''' Island are very popular, and especially Jeju with its many sights and things to do very much worth it.
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'''[[Jeonju]]''' and '''[[Andong]]''' are famous for their traditional villages and specific dishes, Bibimbap (비빔밥) as well as stewed chicken (찜닭, jjimdak) and salted mackerel (간고등어, gan godeungeo) respectively.
  
 
==Do==
 
==Do==
  
Alike above, there is actually too much to list here on a single page. As South Korea is increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination, you might want to visit pages talking about specific provinces/cities, although an excellent starting point is Seoul.
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As South Korea is increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination, you might want to visit our individual destination pages for specific provinces/cities - an excellent starting point is Seoul.
  
Karaoke, or noraebang (노래방) is popular and hard to miss wherever you go in metropolitan cities.
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*Stay in a '''[[#Jjimjilbang|Jjimjilbang]]''' overnight and experience something not available in the western world - a decent sauna, bath house and place to rest for many hours. This is especially convenient if you missed to make a reservation for an accommodation, everything is full or you are looking for a cheap way to stay overnight.
  
You can also learn martial arts such as the famous taekwondo (태권도), hapkido (합기도), and the dance-like martial art taekkyeon (택견).
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*'''[[Jeju]]''' is an island far south of South Korea which offers many opportunities for tourists and is therefore very famous. Worth meantioning are in particular '''Mt. Halla''', '''Manjanggul''' lava-tube, '''Seongsan Ilchubong''', and '''Loveland'''.
  
Jeju-do, in particular Hallasan, and other mountains within the mainland, such as Jirisan (지리산), Seoraksan (설악산) etc are excellent places for hiking/trekking and taking pictures. In autumn the leaves turn into beautiful colours, so the best seasons to go there are autumn and spring.
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*'''[[Jirisan National Park]]''' (지리산) is the first and largest national park of Korea, and very famous with the Koreans. It offers great views and hikes along the mountain ridges and amazing experiences during the winter. Even though not catered much for foreign tourists, 1-3 day tracks (max 40-45km) can be organized and easily done - sign posts and maps are in English as well. Half a dozen shelters/huts (mostly well heated, but bring a sleeping bag) are available along the many tracks, whose starting and finishing points have good bus connections from and to the cities around Jirisan.
  
You can also go snowboarding/skiing in the Kangwon-do province. The province is very beautiful when it snows.
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Another mountain within the mainland is Seoraksan (설악산). There are a lot of other hiking opportunities - good [http://koreaclimbs.blogspot.kr website about Korean trails]. All of them are excellent places for hiking/trekking and taking pictures. In autumn the leaves turn into beautiful colours, so the best seasons to go there are autumn and spring.
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You can also go snowboarding/skiing in the Kangwon-do province. The province is very beautiful when it snows. Also see the [[Seoul]] guide for close to the city destinations.
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Karaoke, or noraebang (노래방), is popular and hard to miss wherever you go in metropolitan cities.
 +
 
 +
You can also learn martial arts such as the famous taekwondo (태권도), hapkido (합기도), and the dance-like martial art taekkyeon (택견).
  
 
The city of Boryeong in Chunchungnam-do hosts a Mud Festival (보령머드축제) that has become a fun (and slightly notorious) pastime in mid-July. Participants drench themselves in mud and take part in everything from mud wrestling to body painting. The nearby beach becomes something of a party apocalypse. Inquire about lodging at least a few weeks in advance.
 
The city of Boryeong in Chunchungnam-do hosts a Mud Festival (보령머드축제) that has become a fun (and slightly notorious) pastime in mid-July. Participants drench themselves in mud and take part in everything from mud wrestling to body painting. The nearby beach becomes something of a party apocalypse. Inquire about lodging at least a few weeks in advance.
  
The Gyeonggi-do & Kangwon-do province has plentiful water amusement parks, such as Caribbean Bay (the park seen from the actual music video by 2PM and Girls Generation ''Cabi'')in Yongin-si(beside Everland which is most biggest amusement park), Ocean World in Hongcheon, with a more Ancient Egyptian setting, and Ocean 700 in Pyeongchang. Tourists and locals usually go there in the summer.
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The Gyeonggi-do & Kangwon-do province has plentiful water amusement parks, such as Caribbean Bay (the park seen from the actual music video by 2PM and Girls Generation ''Cabi'') in Yongin-si (beside Everland which is most biggest amusement park), Ocean World in Hongcheon, with a more Ancient Egyptian setting, and Ocean 700 in Pyeongchang. Tourists and locals usually go there in the summer.
  
==Buy==  
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==Buy==
The currency of South Korea is the '''won''' (₩), written 원 in ''hangul''. As of September 2012, the exchange rate was approximately 1120 won to the US dollar.
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Coins come in denominations of ₩10, ₩50, ₩100 and ₩500, while banknotes come in denominations of ₩1000 (blue), ₩5000 (red), ₩10,000 (green) and ₩50,000 (yellow). ₩1 and ₩5 coins, while they exist, are very rare. The largest bill currently in circulation is only ₩50,000 (US$45, €27) and somewhat uncommon in ATMs, which makes carrying around large sums of currency a bit of a chore. ₩100,000 "checks" are frequently used, and some of the checks go up to ₩10,000,000 in value. These checks are privately produced (by banks, etc.) which can be used as "c-notes".
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===Currency===
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The currency of South Korea is the '''won''' (), written 원 in ''hangul''. As of July 2014, the exchange rate was approximately KRW1,010 per USD1 and KRW1,300 per EUR1.
  
A new series of notes was released in 2006/2007, so expect to see several versions floating around, and be prepared for hassles with vending machines which may not accept the new or old versions.
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Coins come in denominations of ₩10, ₩50, ₩100 and ₩500, while banknotes come in denominations of ₩1,000 (blue), ₩5,000 (red), ₩10,000 (green) and ₩50,000 (yellow). ₩1 and ₩5 coins, while they exist, are very rare. The largest bill currently in circulation is only ₩50,000 and somewhat uncommon in ATMs, which makes carrying around large sums of currency a bit of a chore. ₩100,000 "checks" are frequently used, and some of the checks go up to ₩10,000,000 in value. These checks are privately produced (by banks, etc.) which can be used as "c-notes".
  
ATM are ubiquitous, but most Korean ATMs don't accept foreign cards, only Citibank ATMs [http://www.citibank.co.kr/eng/index.jsp] and special '''Global ATM'''s do.  These can be found at airports in some areas frequented by foreigners in major cities, including [[Hongdae]], some subway stations, and in many Family Mart convenience stores. Sometimes however even the Global ATMs may not accept your foreign card so it's wise to have a second source of money for those times. Be sure to stock up on cash before heading to the countryside, and if you plan on staying in Korea for a longer time, you'll probably want to set up a local account at eg. Woori Bank, which can then be used at the bank's ATMs throughout the country (even some non-local accounts can do this- for example, Woori Bank accounts set up in China come with an ATM card that can be used with all its ATMs in Korea).
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A new series of notes was released in 2006/2007. As of 2013, older notes (issued before 2006/2007) are nearly non existent.
  
'''Credit card''' acceptance, on the other hand, is very good, and all but the very cheapest restaurants and motels will take Visa and Mastercard.
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===Credit cards===
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Credit card acceptance is very good, and all but the very cheapest restaurants and motels will take Visa and MasterCard.
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===ATM===
 +
ATMs are ubiquitous, but most Korean ATMs don't accept foreign cards, foreign bank ATMs however do, e.g. Citibank [http://www.citibank.co.kr/eng/index.jsp]. Having said this, there are nevertheless many special '''Global ATM'''s around. They can generally be found at '''Shinhan (or Jeju) Bank''' (remember the logo), airports, in areas frequented by foreigners, in major cities, some subway stations, and in many Family Mart convenience stores - most of the time indicated by the "Foreign Cards" button on the screen.
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 +
Sometimes however even the Global ATMs may not accept your foreign card, so it is wise to have a second source of money for those times or to ensure your card is fully accepted. Be sure to stock up on cash before heading to the countryside or other remote areas.
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Some banks have a fee of KRW3,500 for foreign cards, especially Citibank - just opt for a different bank.
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===T-Money card===
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An alternative source of payment accepted widely, especially for transport, is the T-Money card. In Seoul you can buy this card at most subway stations and many newspaper kiosks near subway entrances, as well as convenience stores (7/11, CUC, GS25). The card itself costs ₩3,000 (not refundable) and cash can be charged onto the card as often as you like. You can get all but ₩500 back if you have unused credit.
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When entering and leaving a subway turnstile or the bus, place the card on the reader (leaving it inside your purse or wallet is fine), and it will deduct the appropriate fare from the card. Note that if you do not tag the machine as you leave the bus, you will be charged the maximum fare possible by the route. However, be aware that on buses outside of Seoul and especially in the countryside only placing it once when entering may be sufficient, otherwise you will get charged twice - just observe what the locals are doing.
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Using this card will save you ₩100 on Seoul's transfer system and it accounts for changing between subway, train and bus for up to 30min, i.e. instead of paying the full fare for each type of transport, a smaller amount or 0 is deducted the second and third time and so on, e.g. when coming from or going to the airport. I.e., for example, if you travel 10km by subway, transfer to a bus and travel a further 5km, KRW1,050 will be deducted once you leave the subway, nothing will be deducted when you enter the bus, but you will be deducted ₩100 for the extra 5km journey when you leave the bus.
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Typically for most travelers staying less than 2 weeks in Korea or Seoul, purchasing this card may not be cheaper but consider: it can be used countrywide for taxi fares, buses, storage lockers, pay phones, (convenience) stores, restaurants and most transport systems.
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There also exist other such cards, especially outside of Seoul and topping up T-Money can be a problem there, but at '''Shinhan (or Jeju) Bank''' (remember the logo) it should always be possible. You may need to ask the local cashier due to the Korean-only menus/buttons.
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===Bank account===
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If you plan on staying in Korea for a longer time, you'll probably want to set up a local account at e.g. Woori Bank, which can then be used at the bank's ATMs throughout the country. Even some non-local accounts can do this, e.g. Woori Bank accounts set up in China come with an ATM card that can be used with all its ATMs in Korea.
  
 
===Costs===
 
===Costs===
Korea is fairly expensive compared to most Asian countries, but is a little cheaper compared to other modern developed countries such as Japan and most Western countries.  A frugal backpacker who enjoys eating, living and traveling Korean-style can easily squeeze by on under ₩60,000 per day, but if you want top-class hotels and Western food even ₩200,000/day will not suffice. Seoul has been particularly expensive in recent years, by some measures even more so than Tokyo, but the current financial crisis has caused a big decline for the Won against the U.S. Dollar and Yen, making South Korea considerably less expensive for Western and Japanese tourists.
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Korea is fairly expensive compared to most Asian countries, but it is a less expensive than Japan and, when compared to other fully modern, developed, countries, it is on the cheaper side.  A frugal backpacker who enjoys eating, living and travelling Korean-style can easily squeeze by on under ₩60,000 per day, but if you want a regular hotel and to eat your meals in restaurants ₩200,000/day is probably more realistic.
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Seoul has been particularly expensive in recent years due to high real estate values, by some measures even more so than Tokyo, but this has calmed down since the 2008 financial crisis, and while the Won has recovered since then, hotels and restaurants, are still generally lower priced than they were in the 2000s.
  
 
===Tipping===
 
===Tipping===
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===Shopping===
 
===Shopping===
At certain retail outlets with a "Tax Free Shopping" or a "Tax Refund Shopping" sign, you can obtain a voucher and get a large percentage of your taxes refunded. When you leave Korea, go to customs and have it stamped then go to the "Global Refund Korea" or "Korea Tax Refund" counters near the duty-free shops. However to get a refund you must leave within 3 months of purchase.
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At certain retail outlets with a "Tax Free Shopping" or a "Tax Refund Shopping" sign, you can obtain a voucher and get a large percentage of your taxes refunded. When you leave Korea, go to customs and have it stamped then go to the "Global TaxFree" or "Global Refund Korea" counters near the duty-free shops. However to get a refund you must leave within 3 months of purchase.
  
 
'''[[How to haggle|Bargaining]]''' is common at outdoor markets and applies to everything they may have to offer. However stating a monetary amount would be a mistake. Normally what you would say is ''ssage juseyo'' (싸게 주세요). That means "cheaper, please." Doing this once or twice would suffice. The drawback is you will rarely be discounted more than a few dollars.  
 
'''[[How to haggle|Bargaining]]''' is common at outdoor markets and applies to everything they may have to offer. However stating a monetary amount would be a mistake. Normally what you would say is ''ssage juseyo'' (싸게 주세요). That means "cheaper, please." Doing this once or twice would suffice. The drawback is you will rarely be discounted more than a few dollars.  
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==Eat==
 
==Eat==
[[Image:Bibimbap Set.JPG|thumb|240px|Example of a Korean meal: ''bibimbap'' with (from left) pickles, ''eomuk jorim'' sauteed fishcake, ''kimchi'', ''pajeon'' pancake, a pot of ''gochujang'' and ''doenjang'' soup]]
 
  
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[[Image:Bibimbap Set.JPG|thumb|240px|Example of a Korean meal: ''bibimbap'' with (from left) pickles, ''eomuk jorim'' sauteed fishcake, ''kimchi'', ''pajeon'' pancake, a pot of ''gochujang'' and ''doenjang'' soup]]
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[[File:Korean cuisine-Kimchi-02.jpg|thumb|240px|Kimchi]]
 
Korean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular outside of Korea, especially in other parts of East Asia and the U.S. However, those unfamiliar with Korean cuisine will have to be wary for the many spicy and fermented dishes in Korean cuisine. Nevertheless, it is addictive once you get used to it and Korean food is definitely in a class of its own, mixing spicy chillies and copious amounts of garlic with delicate ingredients like raw fish. Although Korean food is quite low in fat, a fact attested to by the observation that very few South Koreans are overweight, those with sodium-limited diets should beware, as Korean cuisine can be heavy in salt.
 
Korean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular outside of Korea, especially in other parts of East Asia and the U.S. However, those unfamiliar with Korean cuisine will have to be wary for the many spicy and fermented dishes in Korean cuisine. Nevertheless, it is addictive once you get used to it and Korean food is definitely in a class of its own, mixing spicy chillies and copious amounts of garlic with delicate ingredients like raw fish. Although Korean food is quite low in fat, a fact attested to by the observation that very few South Koreans are overweight, those with sodium-limited diets should beware, as Korean cuisine can be heavy in salt.
  
 
A Korean meal is centered around rice and soup and likely a fish or meat dish, invariably served with a vast assortment of side dishes known as ''banchan'' (반찬).  The humblest meal comes with three types while a royal banquet may well feature twenty types of banchan. In addition to ''kimchi'' (see below), typical side dishes include bean sprouts (콩나물 ''kongnamul''), spinach (시금치 ''shigeumchi''), small dried fish, and much more.
 
A Korean meal is centered around rice and soup and likely a fish or meat dish, invariably served with a vast assortment of side dishes known as ''banchan'' (반찬).  The humblest meal comes with three types while a royal banquet may well feature twenty types of banchan. In addition to ''kimchi'' (see below), typical side dishes include bean sprouts (콩나물 ''kongnamul''), spinach (시금치 ''shigeumchi''), small dried fish, and much more.
  
The ubiquitous '''kimchi''' (김치 ''gimchi''), made from fermented cabbage and chili, accompanies nearly every meal and may be a bit of an acquired taste for visitors as it can be quite spicy. In addition to the common cabbage type, kimchi can also be made from white radish (깍두기 ''ggakdugi''), cucumbers (오이 소박이 ''oi-sobagi''), chives (부추 김치 ''buchu gimchi'') or pretty much any vegetable that can be pickled. Many different dishes are made using kimchi for flavoring, and kimchi is served as a side dish as well. It is not uncommon to find Korean tourists carrying a stash of tightly packed kimchi when travelling abroad.
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The ubiquitous '''kimchi''' (김치 ''gimchi''), made from fermented cabbage and chili, accompanies nearly every meal and may be a bit of an acquired taste for visitors as it can be quite spicy. In addition to the common cabbage type, kimchi can also be made from white radish (깍두기 ''kkakdugi''), cucumbers (오이 소박이 ''oi sobagi''), chives (부추 김치 ''buchu gimchi'') or pretty much any vegetable that can be pickled. Many different dishes are made using kimchi for flavoring, and kimchi is served as a side dish as well. It is not uncommon to find Korean tourists carrying a stash of tightly packed kimchi when travelling abroad.
  
 
Two more condiments found in almost every dish are ''doenjang'' (된장), a fermented soybean paste akin to Japanese ''miso'', and ''gochujang'' (고추장), a spicy chilli paste.
 
Two more condiments found in almost every dish are ''doenjang'' (된장), a fermented soybean paste akin to Japanese ''miso'', and ''gochujang'' (고추장), a spicy chilli paste.
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===Etiquette===
 
===Etiquette===
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[[File:Korean chopsticks and spoon-Sujeo-01.jpg|thumb|150px|Korean chopsticks and spoon made of stainless steel.]]
 
Koreans use chopsticks with a twist: alone among the peoples of Asia, they prefer chopsticks of '''metal'''.  Typically, restaurants have stainless steel chopsticks, but fine silver ones are also available.  Unfortunately for the chopstick learner, these thin and slippery sticks are not the best implements to practice with, but if you can eat with wooden or plastic chopsticks you'll manage with some fumbling. When eating as a group, communal dishes will be placed in the center and everybody can chopstick what they want, but you'll still get individual portions of rice and soup.  Unless you are eating royal cuisine, most dishes are served family style.
 
Koreans use chopsticks with a twist: alone among the peoples of Asia, they prefer chopsticks of '''metal'''.  Typically, restaurants have stainless steel chopsticks, but fine silver ones are also available.  Unfortunately for the chopstick learner, these thin and slippery sticks are not the best implements to practice with, but if you can eat with wooden or plastic chopsticks you'll manage with some fumbling. When eating as a group, communal dishes will be placed in the center and everybody can chopstick what they want, but you'll still get individual portions of rice and soup.  Unless you are eating royal cuisine, most dishes are served family style.
  
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* ''Bunsik'' (분식) are snack eateries that have cheap, tasty food prepared quickly.
 
* ''Bunsik'' (분식) are snack eateries that have cheap, tasty food prepared quickly.
* ''Kogijip'' (고기집), literally meaning "meat house", are where you'll find grilled meat dishes and fixings.
+
* ''Gogijip'' (고기집), literally meaning "meat house", are where you'll find grilled meat dishes and fixings.
 
* ''Hoejip'' (회집), "raw fish house", serve slices of fresh fish akin to Japanese ''sashimi'', known as ''hwe'' in Korean, and complementary side dishes.  You'll normally find these restaurants cluttering the shores of any waterway.
 
* ''Hoejip'' (회집), "raw fish house", serve slices of fresh fish akin to Japanese ''sashimi'', known as ''hwe'' in Korean, and complementary side dishes.  You'll normally find these restaurants cluttering the shores of any waterway.
* ''Hansik'' (한식). The full course Korean meal, short for ''hanjeongsik'' (한정식), this Korean ''haute cuisine'' originated with banquets given at the royal palace. The course starts with a cold appetizer and porridge ''juk'' (죽). The main dish includes seasoned meat and vegetable dishes that can be either steamed, boiled, fried or grilled. After the meal, you are served traditional drinks such as ''sikhye'' or ''sujeonggwa''.
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* ''Hansik'' (한식). The full course Korean meal, short for ''hanjeongsik'' (한정식), this Korean ''haute cuisine'' originated with banquets given at the royal palace. The course starts with a cold appetizer and porridge ''juk'' (죽). The main dish includes seasoned meat and vegetable dishes that can be either steamed, boiled, fried or grilled. After the meal, you are served traditional drinks such as ''sikhye'' (식혜) or ''sujeonggwa'' (수정과).
 
* ''Department Stores'' have two types of food areas: a food hall in the basement and full service restaurants on the top levels.  The food hall areas have take-away as well as eat-in areas.  The full service restaurants are more expensive, but typically have the advantage of picture menus and good ambience.
 
* ''Department Stores'' have two types of food areas: a food hall in the basement and full service restaurants on the top levels.  The food hall areas have take-away as well as eat-in areas.  The full service restaurants are more expensive, but typically have the advantage of picture menus and good ambience.
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===Coffee Shops===
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Koreans love coffee. Besides the Starbuckses, the Coffee Beans, which are quite popular within Korea, Korea has their own version of successful Western-style coffee chains such as TOMnTOMS, Caffe Bene, and Hollys. Korea has a variety of themed cafes.
  
 
===Barbecues===
 
===Barbecues===
[[Image:Danyang_Galbigui.JPG|thumb|''Galbi'' on the grill and the accompaniments around it]]
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[[Image:Danyang_Galbigui.JPG|thumb|240px|''Galbi'' on the grill and the accompaniments around it]]
  
 
"Korean barbecue" is probably the most popular Korean dish for Westerners, split in Korea itself into ''bulgogi'' (불고기), which uses cuts of marinated meat, and ''galbi'' (갈비), which uses ribs, usually unmarinated. In both, a charcoal brazier is placed in the middle of the table and patrons cook their choice of meats, adding garlic to the brazier for spice. The cooked meat from both of these is placed on a lettuce or perilla leaf along with shredded green onion salad (파무침 ''pa-muchim''), raw (or cooked) garlic, shredded pickled radish (무채 ''muchae'') and some chili-soya paste (쌈장 ''ssamjang'') and then devoured. All are optional, so be creative.
 
"Korean barbecue" is probably the most popular Korean dish for Westerners, split in Korea itself into ''bulgogi'' (불고기), which uses cuts of marinated meat, and ''galbi'' (갈비), which uses ribs, usually unmarinated. In both, a charcoal brazier is placed in the middle of the table and patrons cook their choice of meats, adding garlic to the brazier for spice. The cooked meat from both of these is placed on a lettuce or perilla leaf along with shredded green onion salad (파무침 ''pa-muchim''), raw (or cooked) garlic, shredded pickled radish (무채 ''muchae'') and some chili-soya paste (쌈장 ''ssamjang'') and then devoured. All are optional, so be creative.
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===Rice dishes===
 
===Rice dishes===
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[[File:Korean cuisine-Bibimbap-08.jpg|thumb|240px|Bibimbap]]
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[[File:Gimbap.jpg|thumb|240px|Gimbap]]
 
''Bibimbap'' (비빔밥) literally means "mixed rice", which is a pretty good description.  It consists of a bowl of rice with all sorts of condiments on top (vegetables, shreds of meat, and an egg), which you mash up with your spoon, stirring in your preferred quantity of ''gochujang'' (고추장 chili sauce), and then devour.  Particularly tasty is ''dolsot bibimbap'' (돌솥비빔밥), served in a piping hot stone bowl (watch your fingers!) that cooks the rice to a crisp on the bottom and edges.
 
''Bibimbap'' (비빔밥) literally means "mixed rice", which is a pretty good description.  It consists of a bowl of rice with all sorts of condiments on top (vegetables, shreds of meat, and an egg), which you mash up with your spoon, stirring in your preferred quantity of ''gochujang'' (고추장 chili sauce), and then devour.  Particularly tasty is ''dolsot bibimbap'' (돌솥비빔밥), served in a piping hot stone bowl (watch your fingers!) that cooks the rice to a crisp on the bottom and edges.
  
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===Soups and stews===
 
===Soups and stews===
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[[File:Korean.food-Budaejjigae-01.jpg|thumb|240px|Budae jjigae, a spicy stew originated during the Korean War.]]
 
Soups are known as ''guk'' (국) or ''tang'' (탕), while ''jjigae'' (찌개) covers a wide variety of stews.  The line is fuzzy, and a few dishes can be referred to with both (eg. the fish soup-stew ''dongtae jjigae/dongtaetang''), but in general, ''jjigae'' are spicier while ''tang/guk'' are milder.  Both are always eaten with plenty of white rice on the side.
 
Soups are known as ''guk'' (국) or ''tang'' (탕), while ''jjigae'' (찌개) covers a wide variety of stews.  The line is fuzzy, and a few dishes can be referred to with both (eg. the fish soup-stew ''dongtae jjigae/dongtaetang''), but in general, ''jjigae'' are spicier while ''tang/guk'' are milder.  Both are always eaten with plenty of white rice on the side.
  
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''Budae jjigae'' (부대찌개) is a interesting type of Korean fusion food from the city of [[Uijeongbu]], where a US military base was located.  Locals experimenting with American canned food like Spam, sausages, and pork and beans tried adding them into ''jjigae'', and while recipes vary, most of them involve large quantities of fiery kimchi.  Most places will bring you a big pan of stew and put it on a gas stove in the middle of the table. Many like to put ''ramyeon'' noodle (라면 사리) in the stew, which is optional.
 
''Budae jjigae'' (부대찌개) is a interesting type of Korean fusion food from the city of [[Uijeongbu]], where a US military base was located.  Locals experimenting with American canned food like Spam, sausages, and pork and beans tried adding them into ''jjigae'', and while recipes vary, most of them involve large quantities of fiery kimchi.  Most places will bring you a big pan of stew and put it on a gas stove in the middle of the table. Many like to put ''ramyeon'' noodle (라면 사리) in the stew, which is optional.
  
Popular ''tang'' soups include ''seolleongtang'' (설렁탕), a milky white broth from ox bones and meat, ''gamjatang'' (감자탕), a stew of potatoes with pork spine and chillies and ''doganitang'' (도가니탕), made from cow knees. One soup worth a special mention is ''samgyetang'' (삼계탕, pron. saam-gae-taang), which is a whole spring chicken stuffed with ginseng and rice. Thanks to the ginseng, it's often a little expensive, but the taste is quite mild. It's commonly eaten right before the hottest part of summer in warm broth in a sort of "eat the heat to beat the heat" tradition.
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Popular ''tang'' soups include ''seolleongtang'' (설렁탕), a milky white broth from ox bones and meat, ''gamjatang'' (감자탕), a stew of potatoes with pork spine and chillies and ''doganitang'' (도가니탕), made from cow knees. One soup worth a special mention is ''samgyetang'' (삼계탕, pron. "saam-gae-taang"), which is a whole spring chicken stuffed with ginseng and rice. Thanks to the ginseng, it's often a little expensive, but the taste is quite mild. It's commonly eaten right before the hottest part of summer in warm broth in a sort of "eat the heat to beat the heat" tradition.
  
 
''Guk'' are mostly side dishes like the seaweed soup ''miyeokguk'' (미역국) and the dumpling soup ''manduguk'' (만두국), but a few like the scary-looking pork spine and ox blood soup ''haejangguk'' (해장국), a popular hangover remedy, are substantial enough to be a meal.
 
''Guk'' are mostly side dishes like the seaweed soup ''miyeokguk'' (미역국) and the dumpling soup ''manduguk'' (만두국), but a few like the scary-looking pork spine and ox blood soup ''haejangguk'' (해장국), a popular hangover remedy, are substantial enough to be a meal.
  
 
===Noodles===
 
===Noodles===
Koreans are great noodle lovers too, and the terms ''kuksu'' (국수) and ''myeon'' (면) span a vast variety of types, sold in fast-food noodle shops for as little as W3000-4000. Wheat-based noodles are a staple of Korea.  
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Koreans are great noodle lovers too, and the terms ''kuksu'' (국수) and ''myeon'' (면) span a vast variety of types, sold in fast-food noodle shops for as little as KRW3,000-4,000. Wheat-based noodles are a staple of Korea.  
 
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[[File:Korean cuisine-Naengmyeon-02.jpg|thumb|240px|Naengmyeon, Korean cold noodle soup.]]
 
''Naengmyeon'' (냉면) are a Korean speciality, being thin, chewy buckwheat noodles served in ice cold beef broth, and hence a popular summer dish &mdash; although it's traditionally winter food!  They're also a classic way to end a heavy, meaty barbeque meal.  The key to the dish is the broth (육수 ''yuksu'') and the recipes of well known restaurants are usually closely guarded secrets.
 
''Naengmyeon'' (냉면) are a Korean speciality, being thin, chewy buckwheat noodles served in ice cold beef broth, and hence a popular summer dish &mdash; although it's traditionally winter food!  They're also a classic way to end a heavy, meaty barbeque meal.  The key to the dish is the broth (육수 ''yuksu'') and the recipes of well known restaurants are usually closely guarded secrets.
  
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''Ramyeon'' (라면) is Korea's variant of ''ramen'', often served with kimchi (what else?). Korean ''ramyeon'' is well known for its overall spiciness, at least when compared to Japanese ones. Try ''shin ramyeon'' (신라면) for example.  
 
''Ramyeon'' (라면) is Korea's variant of ''ramen'', often served with kimchi (what else?). Korean ''ramyeon'' is well known for its overall spiciness, at least when compared to Japanese ones. Try ''shin ramyeon'' (신라면) for example.  
  
''Jajangmyeon'' (자장면) is the Korean version of the northern Chinese ''zhajiangmian'', a wheat noodle dish served with a black sauce that usually includes minced pork, onions, cucumber, and garlic &mdash; kind of like a tomatoless spaghetti bolognese. Its sauce contains some caramel and therefore makes the overall dish sweet.
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''Jjajangmyeon'' (짜장면) is the Korean version of the northern Chinese ''zhajiangmian'', a wheat noodle dish served with a black sauce that usually includes minced pork, onions, cucumber, and garlic &mdash; kind of like a tomatoless spaghetti bolognese. Its sauce contains some caramel and therefore makes the overall dish sweet.
  
Finally, ''u-dong'' (우동) are thick wheat noodles, similar to the Japanese ''udon''.
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Finally, ''udong'' (우동) are thick wheat noodles, similar to the Japanese ''udon''.
  
 
===Seafood===
 
===Seafood===
 
Since Korea is a peninsula, you can find every type of seafood (해물 ''haemul''), eaten both cooked and raw.  Restaurants where you pick your own fish &mdash; or bring it from the fish market next door &mdash; are popular, but can be very expensive depending on what you order.
 
Since Korea is a peninsula, you can find every type of seafood (해물 ''haemul''), eaten both cooked and raw.  Restaurants where you pick your own fish &mdash; or bring it from the fish market next door &mdash; are popular, but can be very expensive depending on what you order.
  
''Hwe'' (회), pronounced roughly "hweh", is raw fish Korean-style (similar to sashimi), meaning it's served with spicy ''cho-gochujang'' (Korean hot pepper sauce with vinegar) sauce.  ''Chobap'' (초밥) is raw fish with vinegared rice, similar to Japanese ''sushi''.  If ordering fish as ''hoe''/''chobap'', the bony parts not served raw are often made into a tasty but spicy soup called ''meuntang'' (매운탕).
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''Hoe'' (회), pronounced roughly "hweh", is raw fish Korean-style (similar to sashimi), meaning it's served with spicy ''cho-gochujang'' (Korean hot pepper sauce with vinegar) sauce.  ''Chobap'' (초밥) is raw fish with vinegared rice, similar to Japanese ''sushi''.  If ordering fish as ''hoe''/''chobap'', the bony parts not served raw are often made into a tasty but spicy soup called ''maeuntang'' (매운탕).
  
Another cooked specialty is ''haemultang'' (해물탕), a spicy red hotpot stew filled crab, shrimp, fish, squid, vegetables and noodles.
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Another cooked specialty is ''haemultang'' (해물탕), a spicy red hotpot stew filled with crab, shrimp, fish, squid, vegetables and noodles.
  
 
Whalemeat may also be regionally available at festivals in the outer provinces. Bear in mind that there has been quite a media ruckus over its origin: a recent study of restaurants in Seoul traced the meat back to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean. As international whale trade is illegal, and the species itself endangered, this is one decision to be left up your own moral compass.
 
Whalemeat may also be regionally available at festivals in the outer provinces. Bear in mind that there has been quite a media ruckus over its origin: a recent study of restaurants in Seoul traced the meat back to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean. As international whale trade is illegal, and the species itself endangered, this is one decision to be left up your own moral compass.
  
 
===Other===
 
===Other===
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[[File:Korean.cuisine-Sannakji.hoe-01.jpg|thumb|240px|Sannakji, a raw small octupus in Korean cuisine]]
 
''Jeon'' (전), ''jijimi'' (지짐이), ''jijim'' (지짐), ''bindaetteok'' (빈대떡) and ''buchimgae'' (부침개) are all general terms for Korean-style pan-fried pancakes, which can be made of virtually anything. ''Pajeon'' (파전) is a Korean-style pan-fried pancake laden with spring onions (파 ''pa''). ''Haemul pajeon'' (해물파전), which has seafood added, is particularly popular. ''Saengseonjeon'' (생선전) is made of small fillets of fish covered with egg and flour and then pan fried, and ''nokdu bindaetteok'' (녹두빈대떡) is made from ground mung bean and various vegetables and meat combined.  
 
''Jeon'' (전), ''jijimi'' (지짐이), ''jijim'' (지짐), ''bindaetteok'' (빈대떡) and ''buchimgae'' (부침개) are all general terms for Korean-style pan-fried pancakes, which can be made of virtually anything. ''Pajeon'' (파전) is a Korean-style pan-fried pancake laden with spring onions (파 ''pa''). ''Haemul pajeon'' (해물파전), which has seafood added, is particularly popular. ''Saengseonjeon'' (생선전) is made of small fillets of fish covered with egg and flour and then pan fried, and ''nokdu bindaetteok'' (녹두빈대떡) is made from ground mung bean and various vegetables and meat combined.  
  
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''Sundae'' (순대, pron. "soon-deh") are Korean sausages made from a wide variety of ingredients, often including barley, potato noodles and pig blood.
 
''Sundae'' (순대, pron. "soon-deh") are Korean sausages made from a wide variety of ingredients, often including barley, potato noodles and pig blood.
 
 
A squirmy delicacy is '''raw octopus''' (산낙지 ''sannakji'') &mdash; it's sliced to order, but keeps wiggling for another half hour as you try to remove its suction cups from your plate with your chopsticks. '''Sea squirts''' (''meongge'') are at least usually killed before eating, but you might be hard-pressed to tell the difference as the taste been memorably described as "rubber dipped in ammonia".
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A squirmy delicacy is '''raw octopus''' (산낙지 ''sannakji'') &mdash; it's sliced to order, but keeps wiggling for another half hour as you try to remove its suction cups from your plate with your chopsticks. '''Sea squirts''' (멍게 ''meongge'') are at least usually killed before eating, but you might be hard-pressed to tell the difference as the taste been memorably described as "rubber dipped in ammonia".
  
 
===Dog Meat===
 
===Dog Meat===
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Aside from the cultural taboo, there are some issues regarding how the dogs are raised, butchered, and processed.  These days, dogs are generally ''not'' beaten to death to improve the taste, but calling the conditions in which dogs are raised and butchered humane would also be an exaggeration. Even in Korea, where many people are pet owners, people get quite opinionated on this matter. So take anything you hear with a grain of salt.
 
Aside from the cultural taboo, there are some issues regarding how the dogs are raised, butchered, and processed.  These days, dogs are generally ''not'' beaten to death to improve the taste, but calling the conditions in which dogs are raised and butchered humane would also be an exaggeration. Even in Korea, where many people are pet owners, people get quite opinionated on this matter. So take anything you hear with a grain of salt.
  
In any case, you're unlikely to end up chewing on Snoopy by accident, as dog is only served by speciality restaurants, and as they rarely advertise you will have to actively seek them out. If you do make the effort, a bowl can go for under W10,000 and you'll find that dog tastes broadly like beef or veal, if perhaps a tad gamier.}}  
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In any case, you're unlikely to end up chewing on Snoopy by accident, as dog is only served by speciality restaurants, and as they rarely advertise you will have to actively seek them out. If you do make the effort, a bowl can go for under KRW10,000 and you'll find that dog tastes broadly like beef or veal, if perhaps a tad gamier.}}  
  
 
===Dietary restrictions===
 
===Dietary restrictions===
 
Vegetarians will have a '''tough time''' in Korea.  As in most of East Asia, meat is understood to be the flesh of land animals, so seafood is not considered meat. If you ask for "no ''gogi''" (고기) they will probably just cook as usual and pick out the big chunks of meat.  One good phrase is to say you are ''chaesikjuwija'' (채식주의자), a person who only eats vegetables.  This may prompt questions from the server, so be prepared!
 
Vegetarians will have a '''tough time''' in Korea.  As in most of East Asia, meat is understood to be the flesh of land animals, so seafood is not considered meat. If you ask for "no ''gogi''" (고기) they will probably just cook as usual and pick out the big chunks of meat.  One good phrase is to say you are ''chaesikjuwija'' (채식주의자), a person who only eats vegetables.  This may prompt questions from the server, so be prepared!
  
Most stews will not use beef stock, but fish stock, especially ''myeol-chi'' (멸치, anchovy).  This will be your bane, and outside of reputable vegetarian restaurants, you should ask if you are ordering any stews/hotpots or casseroles.
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Most stews will not use beef stock, but fish stock, especially ''myeolchi'' (멸치, anchovy).  This will be your bane, and outside of reputable vegetarian restaurants, you should ask if you are ordering any stews/hotpots or casseroles.
  
 
Spicy (red) kimchi will almost certainly have seafood, such as salted tiny shrimp, as an ingredient.  Since it disappears into the brine, you will not be able to visually identify it.  Another type of kimchi, called ''mulgimchi'' (물김치, "water kimchi") is vegan, as it is simply salted in a clear, white broth with many different vegetables.
 
Spicy (red) kimchi will almost certainly have seafood, such as salted tiny shrimp, as an ingredient.  Since it disappears into the brine, you will not be able to visually identify it.  Another type of kimchi, called ''mulgimchi'' (물김치, "water kimchi") is vegan, as it is simply salted in a clear, white broth with many different vegetables.
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On the bright side, vegans and vegetarians are perfectly safe at Korean monastery cuisine restaurants, which uses no dairy, egg, or animal products, except perhaps honey.  There has been a recent vogue for this type of cuisine, but it can be rather expensive.
 
On the bright side, vegans and vegetarians are perfectly safe at Korean monastery cuisine restaurants, which uses no dairy, egg, or animal products, except perhaps honey.  There has been a recent vogue for this type of cuisine, but it can be rather expensive.
  
There is an increasing number of vegetarian restaurants in Korea - most are in the larger or medium-sized places.  Some of these are run by Seventh-Day Adventists or Hindus.
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There is an increasing number of vegetarian restaurants in Korea - most are in the larger or medium-sized places.  Some of these are run by religious groups. The most prominent franchise is probably [http://lovinghutkorea.com/ Loving Hut], which is vegan and rather low priced. While, you probably wouldn't make this a destination restaurant, it's a good backup plan (if you've noted the locations and closing times in advance).
  
 
==Drink==  
 
==Drink==  
Alcoholics rejoice &mdash; booze is cheap and Koreans are among the heaviest drinkers in the world. Due to the strict social norms in effect at the workplace, the drinking hall tends to be the only place where inhibitions can be released and personal relationships expressed. Significant business deals are closed not in the boardroom, but in the bar. Promotions, grants, and other business advancements are secured over drinks at singing rooms, late night raw fish restaurants, and restaurant-bars. Many Korean men are what would be considered heavy drinkers in the west, and as alcoholism is being recognized as an ailment, public moves have begun to attempt to curb alcohol intake. Don't be surprised to see businessmen in suits lying around sleeping it off, and be careful not to step in the puddles of vomit common on the sidewalks in the mornings.  The drinking age in South Korea is 19.
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The legal drinking/purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is '''19'''.
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Drinks are cheap and Koreans are among the heaviest drinkers in the world. Due to the strict social norms in effect at the workplace, the drinking hall tends to be the only place where inhibitions can be released and personal relationships expressed. Significant business deals are closed not in the boardroom, but in the bar. Promotions, grants, and other business advancements are secured over drinks at singing rooms, late night raw fish restaurants, and restaurant-bars. Many Korean men are what would be considered heavy drinkers in the west, and as alcoholism is being recognized as an ailment, public moves have begun to attempt to curb alcohol intake. Don't be surprised to see businessmen in suits lying around sleeping it off, and be careful not to step in the puddles of vomit common on the sidewalks in the mornings.
  
 
===Nightlife===
 
===Nightlife===
Compared to Western drinking habits, Koreans have adopted slightly different ways to enjoy their night out. Sure, you can find Western style bars easily, but going to a Korean style bar can be an interesting experience.  Hofs (originally German, but 호프 ''hopeu'' in Korean) are just normal beer places, which serve beer and side dishes. Customers are supposed to order some side dish to go along their drinks at most drinking establishments in Korea. Recently, due to growing competition, many hofs have started to install various gadgets for entertainment.  
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Compared to Western countries Korean establishments have been known to discriminate against anyone who is non-Korean.  You will be denied entry into Clubs, bars, and other establishments if you are non-Asian.  Korea currently does not have any anti-discrimination laws on the books.    , Koreans have adopted slightly different ways to enjoy their night out. Sure, you can find Western style bars easily, but going to a Korean style bar can be an interesting experience.  Hofs (originally German, but 호프 ''hopeu'' in Korean) are just normal beer places, which serve beer and side dishes. Customers are supposed to order some side dish to go along their drinks at most drinking establishments in Korea. Recently, due to growing competition, many hofs have started to install various gadgets for entertainment.  
  
Booking clubs are the Korean version of night clubs. What makes them interesting is the "booking" part of the name. It's basically a way to meet new people of the opposite sex by introduction of the waiters (who usually bring women to visit tables of men, but increasingly vice-versa). Booking clubs are slightly more expensive than normal bars and hofs, but can be extremely fun.  These can be different from American-style clubs, in that in addition to a cover charge, you are pretty much expected to order booze and side dishes (which can be quite pricey in W200,000-W500,000 range and up). But other than that, the dancing and atmosphere is about the same.
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Booking clubs are the Korean version of night clubs. What makes them interesting is the "booking" part of the name. It's basically a way to meet new people of the opposite sex by introduction of the waiters (who usually bring women to visit tables of men, but increasingly vice-versa). Booking clubs are slightly more expensive than normal bars and hofs, but can be extremely fun.  These can be different from American-style clubs, in that in addition to a cover charge, you are pretty much expected to order booze and side dishes (which can be quite pricey in KRW200,000-500,000 range and up). But other than that, the dancing and atmosphere is about the same.
  
 
One of the customary things to do at a booking club is to "dress-up" your table or booth by purchasing expensive liquors and fruit plates, which signals your 'status' to the other patrons of the club (especially your gender of interest).  Scotch whisky is especially marked up a great deal in Korea, so don't be surprised to pay very high prices for that innocuous bottle of Johnnie Walker.  On the other hand, it is a better value overall to buy a bottle of liquor or a "liquor set" than to purchase drinks individually.
 
One of the customary things to do at a booking club is to "dress-up" your table or booth by purchasing expensive liquors and fruit plates, which signals your 'status' to the other patrons of the club (especially your gender of interest).  Scotch whisky is especially marked up a great deal in Korea, so don't be surprised to pay very high prices for that innocuous bottle of Johnnie Walker.  On the other hand, it is a better value overall to buy a bottle of liquor or a "liquor set" than to purchase drinks individually.
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===''Soju''===
 
===''Soju''===
The national drink of South Korea is '''''soju''''' (소주), a vodka-like alcoholic beverage (usually around 20%). It's cheaper than any other drink &mdash; a 350ml bottle can cost slightly over W3000 at bars (as little as W1100 at convenience stores!) &mdash; and also strong. Usually this is made by fermenting starch from rice, barley, corn, potato, sweet potato, etc, to produce pure alcohol which is then diluted with water and other flavors.  The manufacturing process leaves in a lot of extraneous chemicals, so be prepared for a four-alarm hangover in the morning, even after drinking a comparatively small amount.
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The national drink of South Korea is '''''soju''''' (소주), a vodka-like alcoholic beverage (usually around 20%). It's cheaper than any other drink &mdash; a 350ml bottle can cost slightly over KRW3,000 at bars (as little as KRW1,100 at convenience stores!) &mdash; and also strong. Usually this is made by fermenting starch from rice, barley, corn, potato, sweet potato, etc, to produce pure alcohol which is then diluted with water and other flavors.  The manufacturing process leaves in a lot of extraneous chemicals, so be prepared for a four-alarm hangover in the morning, even after drinking a comparatively small amount.
  
 
Traditionally, soju was made by distilling rice wine and aging it, which created a smooth spirit of about 40%. This type of traditional soju can still be found, for example ''Andong Soju'' (안동 소주) &mdash; named after the town of [[Andong]] &mdash; and ''munbaeju'' (문배주). These can be expensive, but prices (and quality) vary considerably.
 
Traditionally, soju was made by distilling rice wine and aging it, which created a smooth spirit of about 40%. This type of traditional soju can still be found, for example ''Andong Soju'' (안동 소주) &mdash; named after the town of [[Andong]] &mdash; and ''munbaeju'' (문배주). These can be expensive, but prices (and quality) vary considerably.
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===Beer===
 
===Beer===
Western-style lagers are also quite popular in Korea, with the three big brands being '''Cass''', '''Hite''' and '''OB''', all of which are rather light and watery and cost around 1500 won per bottle at a supermarket.  Korea's version of the beer pub is the '''hof''' (호프 ''hopeu''), which serve pints of beer in the W2000-5000 range, although imported beers can be much more expensive.  Note that you are expected to order food as well, and may even get served grilled squid or similar Korean pub grub without ordering, for a charge of W10000 or so.
+
Western-style lagers are also quite popular in Korea, with the three big brands being '''Cass''', '''Hite''' and '''OB''', all of which are rather light and watery and cost around KRW1,500 per bottle at a supermarket.  Korea's version of the beer pub is the '''hof''' (호프 ''hopeu''), which serve pints of beer in the KRW2,000-5,000 range, although imported beers can be much more expensive.  Note that you are expected to order food as well, and may even get served grilled squid or similar Korean pub grub without ordering, for a charge of KRW10,000 or so.
  
 
===Tea and coffee===
 
===Tea and coffee===
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* ''yulmucha'' (율무차), a thick white drink made from a barley-like plant called Job's tears
 
* ''yulmucha'' (율무차), a thick white drink made from a barley-like plant called Job's tears
  
Coffee (커피 ''keopi'') is also widely available, especially from streetside vending machines that will pour you a cupful for as little as W300, usually sweet and milky. Latte snobs will also be glad to know that Starbucks and assorted copies are spreading like wildfire. Starbucks is particularly widespread in Seoul and the drinks served taste exactly as they do in Starbucks locations in the United States, so make sure you hunt around for a decent cup.
+
Coffee (커피 ''keopi'') is also widely available, especially from streetside vending machines that will pour you a cupful for as little as KRW300, usually sweet and milky, but there is often a "black" option. Canned coffee, while not as common as in Japan, is also widely available (and consistent).  
 +
 
 +
Those looking for high quality coffee can always default to Starbucks which is ubiquitous in Seoul and common throughout the country, and there are a number of similar chains. Those looking for independent shops can also find them, but it can be difficult without local assistance.
  
 
===Other drinks===
 
===Other drinks===
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* ''sujeonggwa'' (수정과), a sweet, cinnamon-y drink made from persimmons served cold
 
* ''sujeonggwa'' (수정과), a sweet, cinnamon-y drink made from persimmons served cold
  
==Smoke==
+
===Smoking===
Whilst not as popular as in Japan or China, many Korean men and an increasing number of Korean women smoke, and it's fairly cheap compared to much of Europe and America. A 20-pack costs around W2500(domestic cigarettes) or W2700(foreign cigarettes), and cigarettes can be bought from all convenience stores. Koreans favour mild cigarettes (around 6mg tar) so Korean-made cigarettes may taste bland and flavourless compared to those from America or Europe, and even the Korean-produced Western cigarettes are much lighter than the originals (e.g. Full-strength Marlboro Reds in Korea have only 8mg tar, the same as Marlboro Lights in the US). If you prefer stronger cigarettes it's wise to bring some duty-free cigarettes with you. However, there are a few vendors in [[Itaewon]] and [[Gunsan]] that do sell American cigarettes, although you will probably need to look around a bit to get the brand you like. Fortunately, the ubiquitous American military personnel in both cities can usually point you in the right direction.
+
Whilst not as popular as in Japan or China, many Korean men and an increasing number of Korean women smoke, and it's fairly cheap compared to much of Europe and America. A 20-pack costs around ₩4,500 (domestic cigarettes) or ₩4,700 (foreign cigarettes), and cigarettes can be bought from all convenience stores. Koreans favour mild cigarettes (around 6mg tar) so Korean-made cigarettes may taste bland and flavourless compared to those from America or Europe, and even the Korean-produced Western cigarettes are much lighter than the originals (e.g. Full-strength Marlboro Reds in Korea have only 8mg tar, the same as Marlboro Lights in the US). If you prefer stronger cigarettes it's wise to bring some duty-free cigarettes with you. However, there are a few vendors in [[Itaewon]] and [[Gunsan]] that do sell American cigarettes, although you will probably need to look around a bit to get the brand you like. Fortunately, the ubiquitous American military personnel in both cities can usually point you in the right direction.
  
Smoking is forbidden in most public buildings, public transport and restaurants, although it's permitted in most bars. Internet cafes have smoking and no-smoking sections and karaoke parlours, DVD-bangs, hotels etc give you a choice of smoking or no-smoking rooms.
+
Smoking is forbidden in most public buildings, public transport and restaurants, although it's permitted in most bars. araoke parlours, DVD-bangs, hotels etc give you a choice of smoking or no-smoking rooms. Effective since July 2013, most Internet cafes (except with completely sealed smoking room) are non-smoking areas legally.
  
 
Also, make sure you familiarize yourself with the local ordinances on smoking. Smoking in public is prohibited in certain places of Korea, and although police will generally let foreigners off with a warning, you still run the risk of getting fined.
 
Also, make sure you familiarize yourself with the local ordinances on smoking. Smoking in public is prohibited in certain places of Korea, and although police will generally let foreigners off with a warning, you still run the risk of getting fined.
  
 
==Sleep==
 
==Sleep==
There's plenty of accommodation in all price brackets in South Korea.  Note that prices in Seoul are typically about twice that of anywhere else in the country.
+
 
 +
There's plenty of accommodation in all price brackets in South Korea.  Note that prices in Seoul are typically about twice that of anywhere else in the country. For making a hotel, motel, hostel or guest-house reservation simply consult the place's or your favourite website.
  
 
Some higher-end hotels offer a choice of both Western-style and Korean-style rooms.  The main feature of Korean rooms is an elaborate Korean-invented floor-heating system known as ''ondol'' (온돌), where hot steam (or, these days, water or electricity) heats stone slabs under a layer of clay and oiled paper.  There are no beds; instead, mattresses are laid directly on the floor. Other furniture is typically limited to some low tables (you're also expected to sit on the floor) and maybe a TV.
 
Some higher-end hotels offer a choice of both Western-style and Korean-style rooms.  The main feature of Korean rooms is an elaborate Korean-invented floor-heating system known as ''ondol'' (온돌), where hot steam (or, these days, water or electricity) heats stone slabs under a layer of clay and oiled paper.  There are no beds; instead, mattresses are laid directly on the floor. Other furniture is typically limited to some low tables (you're also expected to sit on the floor) and maybe a TV.
  
 
===Motels===
 
===Motels===
Some of the cheapest accommodation in South Korea are in what are locally termed '''motels''' (모텔 ''motel'') or '''''yeogwan''''' (여관), but these are rather different from motels in the West and closer to [[Japan]]'s "love hotels".  Motels in South Korea are generally very cheap hotels targeted at young couples aiming to spend 'time' together away from their elders, complete with plastic beds, occasionally vibrating, with strategically placed mirrors on the ceiling, as well as a VCR and a variety of appropriate videos. However for the budget traveller, they can simply be inexpensive lodging, with rates as low as W25,000/night.
+
Some of the cheapest accommodation in South Korea are in what are locally termed '''motels''' (모텔 ''motel'') or '''''yeogwan''''' (여관), but these are rather different from motels in the West and closer to [[Japan]]'s "love hotels".  Motels in South Korea are generally very cheap hotels targeted at young couples aiming to spend 'time' together away from their elders, complete with plastic beds, occasionally vibrating, with strategically placed mirrors on the ceiling, with a TV and sometimes a computer. However for the budget traveller, they can simply be inexpensive lodging, with rates as low as KRW30,000/night.
  
The easiest way to find a motel is to just look for the symbol "♨" and gaudy architecture, particularly near stations or highway exits.  They're harder to find online, as they rarely if ever show up in English-language booking sites, but Hotel365 [http://www.hotel365.co.kr] (Korean only) has comprehensive listings for the entire country.
+
The easiest way to find a motel is to just look for the symbol "♨" and gaudy architecture, particularly near stations or highway exits.  They're harder to find online, as they rarely if ever show up in English-language booking sites, but Hotel365 [http://www.hotel365.co.kr] (Korean only) has comprehensive listings for the entire country.  Pretty much every train station or bus terminal in the country has a selection of motels within a 5 minute walk.
  
In some motels picking your room is very easy, as there will be room numbers, lit pictures and prices on the wallThe lower price is for a "rest" (휴식 ''hyusik'') of two to four hours, while the higher price is the overnight rate.  Press the button for the one you like, which will go dark, and proceed to check-in.  You'll usually be expected to pay in advance, often to just a pair of hands behind a frosted glass windowEnglish is rarely spoken, but the only word you need to know is ''sukbak'' (숙박, "staying")You may or may not receive a key, but even if you don't, the staff can usually let you in and out on request &mdash; just don't lose your receipt!
+
When you walk in there will be a frosted window with someone behind itIf it's late at night they might be sleeping, but you can wake them up.  You pay for your room in advance (KRW30,000-50,000, cash only) when you enter, and will be given a room key and a kind of 'welcome pack', consisting of a toothbrush, other toiletries and condomsWhen you leave, just leave the key at the windowThere are no receipts or records of names, the system is designed to be discreet and anonymous.
  
 
===Hotels===
 
===Hotels===
Full-service hotels can be found in all larger towns in Korea.  Cheaper hotels blend into motels with rooms from W40,000, while three and four star hotels are closer to W100,000-W200,000 and five-star luxury hotels can easily top W300,000.  Outside peak season you can often get steep discounts from the rack rates, so be sure to ask when reserving.
+
Full-service hotels can be found in all larger towns in Korea.  Cheaper hotels blend into motels with rooms from ₩40,000, while three and four star hotels are closer to ₩100,000-200,000 and five-star luxury hotels can easily top ₩300,000.  Outside peak season you can often get steep discounts from the rack rates, so be sure to ask when reserving.
  
 
===Hostels/Guesthouses===
 
===Hostels/Guesthouses===
While not as common in South Korea as in other parts of Asia or the world, hostels and guesthouses can be found. Major cities, such as Seoul, will have a few dozen, while smaller cities may have a handful. Prices can vary widely, even within one hostel. In Seoul, mixed dorms average W15,000 to W25,000 per person; private rooms with a shared toilet and shower average W20,000 to W30,000 per person; and private ensuite rooms average W25,000 to W40,000 per person. Many hostels will have a common room with free TV, games, computers, and internet; some will have a public full kitchen and other amenities.
+
While not as common in South Korea as in other parts of Asia or the world, hostels and guesthouses can be found. Major cities, such as Seoul, will have a few dozen, while smaller cities may have a handful. Prices can vary widely, even within one hostel. In Seoul, mixed dorms average ₩15,000 to ₩25,000 per person; private rooms with a shared toilet and shower average ₩20,000 to ₩30,000 per person; and private ensuite rooms average ₩25,000 to ₩40,000 per person. Many hostels will have a common room with free TV, games, computers, and internet; some will have a public full kitchen and other amenities.
  
 
===''Minbak''===
 
===''Minbak''===
In rural areas in and near national parks, you can find a '''''minbak''''' (민박).  Most of these are just a room or two in someone's home - others are quite fancy and may be similar to ''yeogwans'' (motels) or hotels.  Generally, they have ''ondol'' rooms with maybe a TV and that's about it. You don't usually get your own bathroom in your room, although some of the fancier ones do have an ''en suite.''  Minbaks usually run around 20,000 won off-season though the price may go up quite a bit during high season.
+
In rural areas in and near national parks, you can find a '''''minbak''''' (민박).  Most of these are just a room or two in someone's home - others are quite fancy and may be similar to ''yeogwans'' (motels) or hotels.  Generally, they have ''ondol'' rooms with maybe a TV and that's about it. You don't usually get your own bathroom in your room, although some of the fancier ones do have an ''en suite.''  Minbaks usually run around KRW20,000 off-season though the price may go up quite a bit during high season.
  
 
===Homestay===
 
===Homestay===
Very similar in concept to a Minbak, these aren't limited to just rural areas or near national parks.  Since the World Cup in 2002, many families around the country have opened their doors and hearts to foreigners looking for a good place to sleep and a breakfast included in the price.  These can run between 30,000 and 35,000 won per night.  Try eg. '''Homestaykorea''' [http://www.homestaykorea.com] or '''LABO''' [http://www.labostay.or.kr].
+
Very similar in concept to a Minbak, these aren't limited to just rural areas or near national parks.  Since the World Cup in 2002, many families around the country have opened their doors and hearts to foreigners looking for a good place to sleep and a breakfast included in the price.  These can run between KRW30,000 and KRW35,000 per night.  Try eg. '''Homestaykorea''' [http://www.homestaykorea.com] or '''LABO''' [http://www.labostay.or.kr].
  
 
===''Jjimjilbang''===
 
===''Jjimjilbang''===
For the budget traveller public bath houses known as '''''jjimjilbang''''' (찜질방) can offer a great way to sleep. Entrance costs around W5,000-W10,000 to get in, and includes a robe or pajamas to wear. Inside the facilities can be expansive, including showers, public baths, restaurants, computer/video game rooms, a room with DVD movies, and places to sleep, although this often means little more than a quiet, warm room with maybe some wooden blocks to rest your head on. These places are more often meant for families or couples coming in for the day and as such are not perfectly catered to travelers. When you leave you have to take everything with you, and pay to get back in. There is no secure place to leave your things except a single locker.   Aside from these drawbacks, ''jjimjilbang'' offer a very relaxing place to sleep and bathe.
+
For the budget traveller public bath houses known as '''''Jjimjilbang''''' (찜질방) offer a great and very relaxing way to sleep, bathe and take a sauna. The entrance is ₩5,000-15,000 and includes a short pajamas or robe to wear. The facilities can be expansive, including showers, public baths, restaurants, computer/video game rooms, a room with DVD movies, and a warm hall to sleep, mostly with mattresses and soft head rests available. These places are generally for families or couples coming in for the day, but traveller are still very welcome. They are also used by Korean men from the country side working in the city for resting over night. There is no secure place to leave your things except for the mostly two lockers, one for the shoes (at the entrance) and one for your cloths (near the mirrors and bath entrance). Sleeping hall and mixed facilities are entered with pajama, the baths are garment-free. A ''Jjimjilbang'' is no more awkward than any western public bath - so go ahead. Ask whether overnight stay is possible if needed, because some Korean Spas don't offer this option, e.g. like the "Spa Land Centum City" in Busan, which however is no ''Jjimjilbang''. When you leave you have to take everything with you, and pay to get back in.
  
 
===Temples===
 
===Temples===
Jogye (조계사), Korea's largest Buddhist sect, runs a popular '''Temple Stay''' program where visitors get to spend 24 hours living at a Buddhist temple.  Korean ability helps but is not necessary at some temples, but you will be expected to work at the temple and get up at 3 or 4AM to participate in morning prayer.  In exchange for three meals and a basic bed for the night, a "donation" of W50,000-80,000 is expected.  Reservations are necessary and can be made at the Temple Stay site [http://eng.templestay.com/] or via Korea Travel Phone, tel. +82-2-1330
+
Jogye (조계사), Korea's largest Buddhist sect, runs a popular '''Temple Stay''' program where visitors get to spend 24 hours living at a Buddhist temple.  Korean ability helps but is not necessary at some temples, but you will be expected to work at the temple and get up at 3 or 4AM to participate in morning prayer.  In exchange for three meals and a basic bed for the night, a "donation" of KRW50,000-80,000 is expected.  Reservations are necessary and can be made at the Temple Stay site [http://eng.templestay.com/] or via Korea Travel Phone, tel. +82-2-1330
  
 
==Learn==
 
==Learn==
Education is taken very seriously in South Korea, and the country is home to several world class universities, many of which have exchange agreements with various foreign universities, and are a good way for foreigners to experience life in the country. The most prestigious comprehensive universities are '''Seoul National University''', '''Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology''', '''Yonsei University''' and '''Korea University'''.
+
 
 +
Education is taken very seriously in South Korea, and the country is home to several world class universities, many of which have exchange agreements with various foreign universities, and are a good way for foreigners to experience life in the country. The most prestigious comprehensive universities are '''Seoul National University''', '''Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology''', '''Yonsei University''', '''Korea University''', and '''Pohang University of Science and Technology(POSTECH)'''.
  
 
===Others===
 
===Others===
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* '''Janggi'''  &mdash; Also known as Korean chess, a board game similar to Chinese chess, with which it shares its origins, though the rules have diverged significantly from Chinese chess.
 
* '''Janggi'''  &mdash; Also known as Korean chess, a board game similar to Chinese chess, with which it shares its origins, though the rules have diverged significantly from Chinese chess.
 +
 +
* '''Learn how to make Kimchi''' &mdash; Many tourist packages nowadays include learning how to make a Korean staple dish, Kimchi.
  
 
==Work==
 
==Work==
[[Teaching English|Work as an English teacher]] is available through various companies, with the desired minimum level of education being a Bachelor's degree.  Schools prefer native English speakers, and many prefer North American accents. In most instances, native English speakers from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and the UK are the only applicants that can be considered because the South Korean government usually (information has been inconsistent) just accepts those from the aforementioned pre-approved English-speaking countries.
+
 
 +
[[Teaching English|Work as an English teacher]] is available through various companies, with the desired minimum level of education being a Bachelor's degree.  Schools prefer native English speakers, and many prefer North American accents. In most instances, native English speakers from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and the UK are the only applicants that can be considered because the South Korean government usually (information has been inconsistent) just accepts those from the aforementioned pre-approved English-speaking countries.
  
 
Native speakers of English who have four-year university degrees may find it easy to obtain employment in one of Korea's many private academies (''hagwon'').  These schools have proliferated in response to perceived failings of the public education system, although there are also hagwons aimed at adult instruction.  Often, people interested in these teaching positions find them via professional recruiters.  There are pros and cons to teaching ESL in the hagwon system.  On the plus side, the money can be quite good.  As of late 2005, the average monthly salary is approximately 2 million KRW, and housing is usually provided.  It's possible to live comfortably on half of one's salary, and to save the rest.  However, it is important to evaluate each prospective employer before accepting an offer; tales of unscrupulous academy owners and incompetent directors abound.
 
Native speakers of English who have four-year university degrees may find it easy to obtain employment in one of Korea's many private academies (''hagwon'').  These schools have proliferated in response to perceived failings of the public education system, although there are also hagwons aimed at adult instruction.  Often, people interested in these teaching positions find them via professional recruiters.  There are pros and cons to teaching ESL in the hagwon system.  On the plus side, the money can be quite good.  As of late 2005, the average monthly salary is approximately 2 million KRW, and housing is usually provided.  It's possible to live comfortably on half of one's salary, and to save the rest.  However, it is important to evaluate each prospective employer before accepting an offer; tales of unscrupulous academy owners and incompetent directors abound.
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University employment is also possible.  Those who have a graduate-level degree, preferably in TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language) may find professional opportunities at the postsecondary level preferable to teaching in private academies.
 
University employment is also possible.  Those who have a graduate-level degree, preferably in TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language) may find professional opportunities at the postsecondary level preferable to teaching in private academies.
  
Caution: Korean employers tend to be more discriminatory towards people of color, especially Blacks and Indians. Korean job applications usually require you to attach a photo of yourself, along with other information usually considered private in the Western world, such as height, weight and marital status; if you are a person of color, your application will be more likely to be denied. Discrimination based on race, unfortunately, is still legal in Korea. Please be advised when looking for jobs. However, the public schools typically are more colorblind in regards to accepting applicants compared to hagwons.  
+
Caution: Discrimination based on race is '''legal''' in Korea, and there are few protections against any types of discrimination. Korean employers tend to be more discriminatory towards people with darker skin, and especially people of African and south Asian ancestry. Korean job applications usually require you to attach a photo of yourself, along with other information usually considered private in the Western world, such as height, weight and marital status; if you are a person of color, your application will be more likely to be denied. Please be advised when looking for jobs. However, the public schools typically are more colorblind in regards to accepting applicants compared to hagwons.  
  
Year-long public school positions are avaialble though the government-funded EPIK Programme [http://epik.go.kr] in most provinces (now including Seoul as a subsidery) and the rapidly contracting GEPIK Programme in Gyeonggi, with a small number also handled by recruiter companies. Alternately, the TALK Programme runs 6-month rural public school positions for non-graduates.
+
Year-long public school positions are avaialble though the government-funded EPIK Program [http://epik.go.kr] in most provinces (now including Seoul as a subsidiary) and the rapidly contracting GEPIK Program in Gyeonggi, with a small number also handled by recruiter companies. Alternately, the TALK Program runs 6-month and 1-year rural public school positions for those who have completed a 2-year university degree or have completed 2 years of study for a 3-4 year degree.
 
+
See also [[Teaching English]].
+
  
 
==Stay safe==
 
==Stay safe==
 +
 
===Crime===
 
===Crime===
South Korea is a "relatively" safe country, with "reported" crime rates significantly lower than in Western countries, although theft, assault and hotel burglary might happen in major cities such as Busan or Seoul. Take care especially in known tourist areas. Use only legitimate taxis. Illegitimate taxis run even from the airport, and their safety and honesty cannot always be guaranteed.
+
South Korea is a very safe country, with reported crime rates much lower than in Western countries, and it is mostly limited to nuisance crimes and harrassment which are often associated with alcohol. The threat of violent crimes is relatively low. It is safe to walk around at night even in the major cities, but one should, nonetheless, be wary. There are documented cases of foreign women being stalked, followed and raped.  While it is not a common occurrence, it is not unheard of either.  Please exercise caution.  The police in Korea usually have a laid back approach to fixing problems related to crime. If you are a victim of a crime you may have trouble obtaining justice. Complaints by foreigners are not taken seriously as complaints by Koreans.
 +
 
 +
Local South Korean organized crime groups, collectively known as the ''Kkangpae'', which have been featured in countless Korean as well as Western movies. They operate in all major cities in South Korea, but pose little risk to tourists or the general population. They tend to be easy to spot, so simply use a little extra caution in such situations. In general, if don't provoke or harass them and they won't bother you.
  
 
===Racism===
 
===Racism===
Korea is one of the world's most homogeneous countries and for many Koreans, this is a point of pride. As a result, children of mixed descent are often subject to discrimination and bullying in local schools. If you can afford it, sending your child to an international school will reduce the risk of bullying. Racial discrimination is, unfortunately, still legal in Korea.
+
Racism is rampant in Korea and will be on every corner.  Whether it is using racial slurs, or not allowing you to enter an establishment racism is a major problem in the republic of Korea.  In a survey that was given to Korean citizens a majority stated they would not want to live next to a foreigner.  Koreans are known to address foreigners as "Waygookin" (외국인) Which means foreigner in Korean.  Koreans are known to call people foreigners in Korean rather than in English.  Korea is one of the world's most homogeneous countries and for many Koreans, this is a point of pride. As a result, children of mixed ethnicity are sometimes subject to discrimination and bullying in local schools. If you can afford it, sending your child to an international school will reduce the risk of bullying. This too, however, has become a social issue and today there is far less discrimination and bullying.
  
While the average visitor to Korea is extremely unlikely to encounter any problems at all, the odds of trouble go up if you are dark-skinned, male and seen with Korean women, or taken as an American near military bases (a major bone of contention given the poor behavior of some American soldiers). Harassment is usually only verbal and can be ignored, but there are occasional cases of violence, usually fuelled by alcohol. Don't let any confrontations escalate.
+
While the average visitor to Korea is extremely unlikely to encounter any problems at all, the odds of trouble slightly go up if you are dark-skinned or taken as an American near military bases (a major bone of contention given the poor behavior of some American soldiers). Harassment is usually only verbal and can be ignored, but there are rare cases of violence, usually fueled by alcohol. Nevertheless, verbal harassment or violence almost never happens. The worst that will happen to you if you are dark-skinned is some staring.
 +
 
 +
Non-Korean Asians can also be subject to particular types of discrimination and/or harassment. This is rare in areas where tourists are common, but in particular hostility toward Japan is very common and, while less commonly voiced, so is hostility toward China.
  
 
===Traffic===
 
===Traffic===
With one of the highest rates of traffic deaths, Korean motorists will speed through pedestrian crossings, jump red lights and come within a hair-width distance to pedestrians and other cars alike. Even when the light turns, drivers will not stop. So, beware. Motorcyclists are particularly reckless weaving in and out on crowded sidewalks. It is up to you to avoid them.
+
Korean motorists will sometimes speed through pedestrian crossings, jump red lights and come within a hair-width distance to pedestrians and other cars alike. Even when the light turns, drivers will not stop. So, beware. Motorcyclists are particularly reckless weaving in and out on crowded sidewalks. It is up to you to avoid them.
  
 
Pedestrian crosswalks stay green for a very short period of time.  When the walk signal is yellow and you are still at the curb '''do not cross'''.  Instead, you should wait and be ready for the light to turn green.  The moment it turns green, wait for about 3 to 5 seconds and see if other pedestrians start to cross, and if all the traffic has indeed stopped, then walk briskly to cross safely.  It is safer to take underground passageways at busy intersections.
 
Pedestrian crosswalks stay green for a very short period of time.  When the walk signal is yellow and you are still at the curb '''do not cross'''.  Instead, you should wait and be ready for the light to turn green.  The moment it turns green, wait for about 3 to 5 seconds and see if other pedestrians start to cross, and if all the traffic has indeed stopped, then walk briskly to cross safely.  It is safer to take underground passageways at busy intersections.
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===Civil Unrest===
 
===Civil Unrest===
In the heart of the political centre of [[Seoul]], near Gwanghamun, Yeouido(National Assembly) and City Hall, you may witness political activists of one sort or another in the city center. Rarely, demonstrations may get heated when crowds grow to tens of thousands. You'll have to use discretion as violence during political demonstrations is rare, but large crowds may pose safety issues.
+
In the heart of the political centre of [[Seoul]], near Gwanghamun, Yeouido (National Assembly) and City Hall, you may witness political activists of one sort or another in the city center. Rarely, demonstrations may get heated when crowds grow to tens of thousands. You'll have to use discretion as violence during political demonstrations is rare, but large crowds may pose safety issues.
  
 
===Local Laws===
 
===Local Laws===
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===Natural Hazards===
 
===Natural Hazards===
South Korea is considerably less prone to natural disasters than its neighbours. Earthquakes are rare occurences, though minor ones occasionally occur in southwest of the country. While typhoons do not occur as often as in [[Japan]], [[Taiwan]] or the [[Philippines]], they are nevertheless an almost yearly occurance, and are occasionally known to be deadly and cause major property damage.
+
The principle disaster risks are earthquakes and typhoons (huricanes). While, South Korea experiences fewer natural disasters than its neighbours, you should note that it's much smaller size makes that a little misleading, and the geology and geography give it a similar risk profile to its neighbours. That said, both earthquake and typhoon risk is not as high as Japan's eastern coast. There is, on average, about one typhoon hitting, are affecting, Korea each year, and these are occasionally severe and can be deadly and cause major property damage. You should also note that Typhoons are seasonal, so the risk is largely limited to the summer months. Minor earthquakes are somewhat common and are most common in the southwest of the country, and larger earthquakes are possible. Those visiting coastal areas should also be aware of tsunami risk. Most beach areas (where the risk is greatest) have tsunami warning systems, so if the alarm is raised, seek higher ground immediately.
  
 
===Conflict with North Korea===
 
===Conflict with North Korea===
Though an armistice was established between the two Koreas in the 1950's, the two countries are still, officially, at war. Recent events have made the tension between the two countries very high. A re-ignition of the war between the North and South is potentially calamitous and would result in many casualties, military and civilian alike. Be aware of current events in the region before traveling.
+
Though an armistice was established between the two Koreas in the 1950's, the two countries are still, officially, at war. Recent events have made the tension between the two countries very high. A re-ignition of the war between the North and South is potentially calamitous and would result in many casualties, military and civilian alike. Be aware of current events in the region before travelling.
 
+
Under no circumstances whatsoever are you to display any symbols that represent North Korea in anyway. They can only be present in historical museums/war memorials. If you do attempt to praise North Korean figures, in particular Kim Jong-il/Kim Jong-un in public or on South Korean websites, assume that a citizen could inform the police immediately.
+
  
 
===Emergency Numbers===
 
===Emergency Numbers===
Line 672: Line 730:
 
==Stay healthy==
 
==Stay healthy==
  
 +
The quality of healthcare will vary depending on where you are and it is generally very high. The sheer number of hospitals and specialized clinics in the country will also offer you plenty of choice. Treatment is high-quality; Korean healthcare is known worldwide for its excellence in both research and clinical medicine.
  
The quality of healthcare will vary depending on where you are, but is generally very high quality but also expensive. The sheer number of hospitals and specialized clinics in the country will also offer you a greater amount of choice. The quality is of very high quality; Korean healthcare is world-widely known for its excellence in both research and clinical medicine..
+
*Most Korean doctors can communicate in English, being the most highly educated in the country.
 
+
*Most Korean doctors can communicate in English, being the most highly educated in the country. Especially in the larger hospitals in big cities, there wont be any doctor who can't speak English; even nurses have full command over the language. However, you may find them a little difficult to understand due to their Korean accent, so do ask them to slow down and go through things with you clearly.
+
 
*Although health care in South Korea is not free, it is heavily subsidized by the government and is very cheap more so in the clinics compared to the United States. For expatriate workers who have a medical insurance card (this is required), it is even less expensive (although it is still not free).   
 
*Although health care in South Korea is not free, it is heavily subsidized by the government and is very cheap more so in the clinics compared to the United States. For expatriate workers who have a medical insurance card (this is required), it is even less expensive (although it is still not free).   
*In addition to Western medicine, oriental medicine is quite popular in Korea. Herbal supplements can be bought in most pharmacies as well as from shops which produce their own. The most popular herbal supplements (such as Ginseng) can even be bought in convenience stores in the form of energy drinks, tea, gum, and alcohol.This is not to be ignored, as Oriental Medicine has deep roots and even a university degree in it is required to practice unlike psuedo-oriental-clinics in western countries where the owner does not have a proper (or even fake) qualifications. Though such herbal medicines can be effective, they should not be taken instead of modern medicine.
+
*In addition to Western medicine, Oriental medicine is quite popular in Korea. Herbal supplements can be bought in most pharmacies as well as from shops which produce their own. The most popular herbal supplements (such as Ginseng) can even be bought in convenience stores in the form of energy drinks, tea, gum, and alcohol. This is not to be ignored, as Oriental medicine has deep roots and a university degree is a prerequisite to practice, (unlike psuedo-oriental-clinics in western countries where the owner may not have proper qualifications). Though such herbal medicines can be effective, they should not be taken instead of modern medicine.
*Pharmacies are usually located near hospitals, as hospitals in Korea are not allowed to dispense take-home prescriptions; prescriptions are dispensed in small paper packages.  
+
*Pharmacies are usually located near hospitals, as hospitals in Korea are not allowed to dispense take-home prescriptions (with the exception of Emergency Rooms). Prescriptions are dispensed in small paper packages.  
*Although there are no official '''vaccinations''' that are required or recommended for visitors, Hepatitis A attacks the liver and is transmitted through food and water. It is an issue all over the country. But once infected time is the only cure. The Center for Disease Control [http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/yellowBookCh4-HepA.aspx#362] designates the prevalence of infection in Korea to be intermediate.
+
*Although there are no official vaccinations that are required or recommended for visitors, Hepatitis A attacks the liver and is transmitted through food and water. Once infected, time is the only cure. The Center for Disease Control [http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/yellowBookCh4-HepA.aspx#362] designates the prevalence of infection in Korea to be intermediate.
 
*A good basic rule to follow when travelling is when it comes to food, do what the locals do especially when it comes to '''water'''. Most will have it filtered or boiled before drinking. Although tap water in Korea is perfectly safe to drink, you may want to follow the local habits, if only to get rid of the chlorine smell. However, as Kangwon-do is predominantly rural, it has the safest drinking water in the whole country. There are usually signs around water sources that imply that the water is safe to drink.
 
*A good basic rule to follow when travelling is when it comes to food, do what the locals do especially when it comes to '''water'''. Most will have it filtered or boiled before drinking. Although tap water in Korea is perfectly safe to drink, you may want to follow the local habits, if only to get rid of the chlorine smell. However, as Kangwon-do is predominantly rural, it has the safest drinking water in the whole country. There are usually signs around water sources that imply that the water is safe to drink.
  
 
==Respect==
 
==Respect==
 +
 
Koreans are reserved and well-mannered people.
 
Koreans are reserved and well-mannered people.
  
Korea is a land of strict Confucian hierarchy and etiquette.  As a visitor, you will not be expected to know every nuance, but making an effort will certainly be appreciated. Following these rules will impress the locals:
+
Korea is a land of Confucian hierarchy and etiquette.  As a visitor, you will not be expected to know every nuance, but making an effort will certainly be appreciated. Following these rules will impress the locals:
  
* Koreans bow to each other to show their respect when they meet. They may also shake hands. However, with people you know well, quick nod of the head and a simple ''annyeong haseyo'' (안녕하세요), meaning "hello," should suffice the direct translation is "do you have peace".  
+
* Koreans bow to each other to show their respect when they meet. They may also shake hands. However, with people you know well, quick nod of the head and a simple ''annyeong haseyo'' (안녕하세요), meaning "hello," should suffice. The direct translation is "do you have peace".  
  
 
* When meeting for the first time, older Koreans will tend to ask about your age, your parents' jobs, your job, and your education level. If you feel uncomfortable about the questions, just provide short answers and discreetly try to change the topic if possible.
 
* When meeting for the first time, older Koreans will tend to ask about your age, your parents' jobs, your job, and your education level. If you feel uncomfortable about the questions, just provide short answers and discreetly try to change the topic if possible.
Line 695: Line 753:
 
* It is customary to take off your shoes in houses and in many traditional restaurants.
 
* It is customary to take off your shoes in houses and in many traditional restaurants.
  
* Koreans in general have very strong nationalistic views and would view any criticism of their country with varying degrees of hostility. To avoid getting into the bad books of your hosts, it is advisable to praise the country or, at least, to avoid bringing up anything negative about it.
+
* Some Koreans may have nationalistic views and would view any criticism of their country with varying degrees of hostility. To avoid getting into the bad books of your hosts, it is advisable to praise the country or, at least, to avoid bringing up anything negative about it.
  
* Avoid bringing up the Japanese occupation, Dokdo, the Korean war of the early 1950s and US foreign policy, or engage in other political discussions (unless mentioned to you) as these delicate topics are likely to get you on someone's bad side and can lead to intense debates, use of negative epithets, or even violence. Also, do not attempt to compliment North Korea in any way.
+
* Avoid bringing up the Japanese occupation, Dokdo, the Korean war of the early 1950s and US foreign policy, or engage in other political discussions (unless mentioned to you) as these delicate topics are likely to get you on someone's bad side and can lead to intense debates, use of negative epithets, or even violence.  
 +
 
 +
* Do not attempt to compliment North Korea in any way. With that in mind, while South Koreans oppose the North Korean government, this does not similarly apply for ordinary North Koreans, who many, especially among the older generation, regard as their oppressed brothers and countrymen. Jokes at their expense will not be appreciated.
  
 
* South Korean households may have strict rules about recycling, for example one bin may be for paper only, as to another in the kitchen for food/drink containers.
 
* South Korean households may have strict rules about recycling, for example one bin may be for paper only, as to another in the kitchen for food/drink containers.
Line 703: Line 763:
 
* Do not pour your own drink, but do pour for others. When dining with Koreans, the oldest always eats first. It is common to hear people talking loudly in restaurants, as a sign of being happy and enjoying the food. Also, slurping noodles is actually expected, as it shows that you enjoy the food and you are appreciating the cooking well.
 
* Do not pour your own drink, but do pour for others. When dining with Koreans, the oldest always eats first. It is common to hear people talking loudly in restaurants, as a sign of being happy and enjoying the food. Also, slurping noodles is actually expected, as it shows that you enjoy the food and you are appreciating the cooking well.
  
* Alike other Asian countries, when giving tips in restaurants, it is polite to fold the bill and hand it into the waiter's hands secretly and quietly, rather than leaving it on the table or displaying/waving the bill in full shape like the social norm in Western countries. Similarly, in households, when giving money to younger people, it is more acceptable to fold the money and place it in a piece of a paper, preferably an envelope.  
+
* Tipping is '''not''' part of the culture here, and attempting to do so will only elicit confusion from your intended recipient.  
  
 
The further you are away from metropolitan areas the more conservative the people are.
 
The further you are away from metropolitan areas the more conservative the people are.
  
 
===Religion===
 
===Religion===
 
+
Reverse swastikas are commonly seen in Buddhist temples. They are a religious symbol and do not represent Nazism or anti-Semitism, so visitors should not feel offended when encountering them.
Swastikas are commonly seen in Buddhist temples. They are a religious symbol and do not represent Nazism or anti-Semitism, so visitors should not feel offended when encountering them.
+
Remember that swastikas are left handed and right handed and that most religious swastikas are the opposite face to those used by the nazi party.
  
 
===Homosexuality===
 
===Homosexuality===
Homosexuality is a mixed bag in South Korea. While there are no laws against homosexuality in South Korea, same-sex relationships are not recognised by the government. Gay clubs and bars exist in the larger cities, though openly displaying your sexual orientation in public is still likely to be met with disapproval. Conversely platonic displays of physical affection between same-sex friends are very common, particularly when alcohol has been consumed, and holding hands with a same-sex romantic partner may be viewed in this light.
+
Homosexuality is a mixed bag in South Korea. There are no laws against homosexuality in South Korea, and same-sex relationships are neither recognized nor ruled against by the government. Gay clubs and bars exist in the larger cities, though openly displaying your sexual orientation in public is still likely to be met with disapproval. Conversely platonic displays of physical affection between same-sex friends are very common, particularly when alcohol has been consumed, and holding hands with a same-sex romantic partner may be viewed in this light.
  
 
Note that it is common to see pairs of same-sex people publicly walking arm-in-arm.  Usually, if not nearly always, this is an expression of platonic friendship.
 
Note that it is common to see pairs of same-sex people publicly walking arm-in-arm.  Usually, if not nearly always, this is an expression of platonic friendship.
  
 
==Contact==  
 
==Contact==  
 +
 
===By phone===
 
===By phone===
 
International dialling prefixes in South Korea vary by operator, and there is no standard prefix. Check with your operator for the respective prefixes. For calls to South Korea, the country code is 82.
 
International dialling prefixes in South Korea vary by operator, and there is no standard prefix. Check with your operator for the respective prefixes. For calls to South Korea, the country code is 82.
Line 722: Line 783:
 
Mobile phone coverage is generally excellent, with the exception of some remote mountainous areas. The country has three service providers: KT [http://roaming.kt.com/eng/index.asp], SK Telecom [http://www.sktelecom.com/] and LG Telecom [http://new.lgtelecom.com/EngMainCmd.lgtservice?cat_key=21]. They offer prepaid mobile phone services (''pre-paid service'', ''PPS'') in South Korea. Incoming calls are free. Phones and prepaid services can be acquired at any retail location found on any street. Second-hand phones are also available at selected stores in [[Seoul]], also you can rent korean phones at the international airports.
 
Mobile phone coverage is generally excellent, with the exception of some remote mountainous areas. The country has three service providers: KT [http://roaming.kt.com/eng/index.asp], SK Telecom [http://www.sktelecom.com/] and LG Telecom [http://new.lgtelecom.com/EngMainCmd.lgtservice?cat_key=21]. They offer prepaid mobile phone services (''pre-paid service'', ''PPS'') in South Korea. Incoming calls are free. Phones and prepaid services can be acquired at any retail location found on any street. Second-hand phones are also available at selected stores in [[Seoul]], also you can rent korean phones at the international airports.
  
South Korea uses the CDMA standard and does not have a GSM network, so most 2G mobile phones from elsewhere will not work. Even quad-band GSM phones are useless. However, if you have a 3G phone with a 3G SIM card, you can probably roam onto the UMTS/W-CDMA networks of KT or SK Telecom; check with your home operator before you leave to be sure.  4G has recently been made available in Korea; again, check with your provider.
+
South Korea uses the CDMA/ WCDMA standard and does not have a GSM network, so most 2G mobile phones from elsewhere will not work. Even quad-band GSM phones are useless. However, if you have a 3G phone with a 3G SIM card, you can probably roam onto the UMTS/W-CDMA networks of KT or SK Telecom; check with your home operator before you leave to be sure.  4G has recently been made available in Korea; again, check with your provider.
  
All the carriers offer mobile phone rental services, and some handsets also support GSM SIM roaming. They have outlets at the international airports in Incheon, Seoul (Kimpo) and Busan (Kimhae). You can find service centers for KT SHOW and SK Telecom at Jeju airport as well. Charges start from W2000/day if you reserve in advance via the visitkorea website [http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/RE/RE_EN_1_2_4_1.jsp] for a discount and guaranteed availability.
+
If you have a phone that supports the 2100Mhz WCDMA frequency, you should be able to buy a prepaid SIM for it using olleh. All newer unlocked GSM iPhones (iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, GSM iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5) will work. The Verizon iPhone 4 and the original 1st generation iPhone won't work. However, all iPhone 5's regardless of model (both GSM or CDMA) will work if unlocked, and as it's a world phone, any unlocked iPhone 4S will work. Check [[http://www.ktexpatblog.com/?page_id=96]] for more details. You must have been in Korea for more than 3 days to buy a SIM card.
 +
 
 +
All the carriers offer mobile phone rental services, and some handsets also support GSM SIM roaming. They have outlets at the international airports in Incheon, Seoul (Kimpo) and Busan (Kimhae). You can find service centers for KT SHOW and SK Telecom at Jeju airport as well. Charges start from KRW2,000/day if you reserve in advance via the visitkorea website [http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/RE/RE_EN_1_2_4_1.jsp] for a discount and guaranteed availability. Also avalible for rent are the 4G WiBro eggs. However 4G WiBro coverage is weak, and almost non existent outside of the bigger cities and motorways.  
  
 
The 1330 Korea Travel Phone service is a very useful service provided by the Korea Tourism organization. It is a 24 hour service and offered in four different languages (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese). The operator will answer questions on bus schedules, accommodation, museum hours, etc.
 
The 1330 Korea Travel Phone service is a very useful service provided by the Korea Tourism organization. It is a 24 hour service and offered in four different languages (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese). The operator will answer questions on bus schedules, accommodation, museum hours, etc.
  
===By net===
+
===Internet===
South Korea is the '''world's most wired country''' and Internet cafes, known as '''PC bang''' (PC 방, pron. ''BAH-ng''), are ubiquitous through the country. Many customers are there for gaming but you're free to sit and type e-mails as well, typical charges are about W1000 to W2000/hour. Like anything, it may be more expensive in more "luxurious" places. Also, snacks and drinks are available for purchase in most PC bangs. PC bangs are often divided into smoking and non-smoking areas.
+
South Korea is the '''world's most wired country''' and Internet cafes, known as '''PC bang''' (PC 방, pronounced  ''BAH-ng''), are ubiquitous through the country. Many customers are there for gaming but you're free to sit and type e-mails as well, typical charges are about ₩1,000 to ₩2,000/hour. Like anything, it may be more expensive in more "luxurious" places. Also, snacks and drinks are available for purchase in most PC bangs. PC bangs are often divided into smoking and non-smoking areas.
 +
 
 +
Due to the sensitive situation with North Korea, certain websites or links such as North Korea's twitter account are blocked. Websites and links that contain any form of ''indecency''; un-rated games, illegal pornography, or internet gambling will be redirected to a warning page. Tor is available in South Korea.
 +
 
 +
*'''Internet Privacy'''
 +
Any connection made with North Korea will be monitored in case of espionage. Praising North Korea, Communism, or doing any espionage with those in North Korea will get you arrested. Posting any anti-government comment(s) will automatically be deleted.
 +
 
 +
*'''Internet Curfew'''
 +
In order to combat internet gaming addiction, the South Korean government has enacted a curfew law that forbids anyone under the age of 16 to play online from 00:00  to 06.00. However this only affects computers, and public Wi-Fi areas. Consoles and mobile phones remain unaffected.
  
 
===By mail===
 
===By mail===
'''Korea Post''' [http://www.koreapost.go.kr/] is fast, reliable and reasonably priced.  Postage for a postcard anywhere in the world is W370, while letters and packages start from W480.  If you want actual traditional stamps, be sure to ask for them, or else you will just get a printed label.  On request, fancy "tourist" cancellations (''Gwangwang Tongsin Ilbuin'') for your stamps are available at selected post offices without additional charge. Korea Post accepts Visa and MasterCard for purchases over W1000.
+
'''Korea Post''' [http://www.koreapost.go.kr/] is fast, reliable and reasonably priced.  Postage for a postcard anywhere in the world is ₩660, while letters and packages start from ₩480.  If you want actual traditional stamps, be sure to ask for them, or else you will just get a printed label.  On request, fancy "tourist" cancellations (''Gwangwang Tongsin Ilbuin'') for your stamps are available at selected post offices without additional charge. Korea Post accepts Visa and MasterCard for purchases over ₩1,000.
  
Most post offices are open weekdays only from 9 AM to 6 PM.  Larger post offices also open Saturday mornings, and central offices in the main cities stay open late and are open on Sundays as well.
+
Most post offices are open weekdays only 09:00-18:00.  Larger post offices also open Saturday mornings, and central offices in the main cities stay open late and are open on Sundays as well.
  
 
===Media===
 
===Media===
 
 
Korea has several English language media sources for daily news and other information.
 
Korea has several English language media sources for daily news and other information.
  
Line 784: Line 854:
  
 
{{IsPartOf|East Asia}}
 
{{IsPartOf|East Asia}}
{{outline}}
 
 
{{countryguide}}
 
{{countryguide}}

Latest revision as of 14:01, 19 January 2015

Contents

Beomeosa Temple, Busan
Location
South Korea in its region.svg
Flag
Flag of South Korea.svg
Quick Facts
Capital Seoul
Government presidential republic
Currency Won (₩, KRW)
Area 98,480km²
land: 98,190km²
water: 290km²
Population 51,302,044(2014 estimate)
Language Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school
Religion No organized affiliation 31.5%, Christian 40% (Protestant majority), Buddhist 38%, Confucianism 0.2%, other 1% (2010 estimate)
Electricity 220V, 60Hz (C & F type "German" plugs)
Country code +82
Internet TLD .kr
Time Zone UTC +9

South Korea (한국, 韓國 Hanguk), officaly the Republic of Korea (대한민국, 大韓民國 Daehan Minguk) is a country in East Asia. South Korea occupies the southern half of the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea to the north, China across the sea to the west and Japan a short ferry ride to the southeast.

Understand[edit]

History[edit]

Early history and founding of a nation[edit]

Archaeological finds of prehistoric toolmaking on the Korean Peninsula date back to 70,000 BC, and the first pottery is found around 8000 BC. Comb-pattern pottery culture peaked around 3500-2000 BC.

Legend has it that Korea began with the founding of Gojoseon (also called Ancient Chosun) by the legendary Dangun in 2333 BC. Archaeological and contemporaneous written records of Gojoseon as a kingdom date back to around 7th-4th century BC. Gojoseon was eventually defeated by the Chinese Han Dynasty and its territories were governed by four Chinese commanders. The political chaos following the fall of the Han Dynasty in China allowed native tribes to regain control of Korea and led to the emergence of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, namely Goguryeo, Silla and Baekje. Despite repeated attempts by China, namely the Sui Dynasty and later the Tang Dynasty, to conquer the Korean Peninsula, northern-based Goguryeo managed to repel them. Eventually, Goguryeo fell to a Silla-Tang alliance, which had earlier defeated Baekje. This unified Korea under the Silla dynasty. Even though Tang later invaded, Silla forces managed to drive them out, thus maintaining Korea's independence.

Unified Silla was replaced by the Goryeo (also called Koryo) dynasty, from which the modern name "Korea" derives. One highlight of the Goryeo dynasty was that in 1234 the world's first metal movable type was invented by a Korean named Choe Yun-ui (200 years before Gutenberg's printing press). Goryeo was replaced by the Joseon (also called Chosun) dynasty, after a coup by one of its generals. The Joseon dynasty ruled Korea from 1392 to 1910, being one of the longest actively ruling dynasties in world history. It was during the early part of the Joseon dynasty that Korean technological inventions such as the world's first water clock, ironclad ship, and other innovations took place. During the rule of King Sejong the Great, the world's first rain gauge was invented and the Korean alphabet known as hangul was created.

Japanese occupation (1910-1945)[edit]

Korea's status as an independent kingdom under the Chinese sphere of cultural influence (사대교린) ended in 1895 after China's defeat in the Sino-Japanese War and the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Under the terms of the treaty, Qing Dynasty of China was to recognize the severing of the several centuries-old, nominal elder-younger brother relationship between China and Korea, bringing Japan the window of opportunity to force Korea into its own growing sphere of influence. Although the elder-younger brother relationship between China and Joseon was a voluntary diplomatic formality assumed by Joseon's rulers in order to receive the benefits of advanced Chinese culture and trade, it was a symbolic victory for Japan to achieve the breakage of this link. It put Japan in a position extend its imperialism into Korea without fear of Chinese intervention. In 1910, Japan annexed Korea, thus beginning a 35-year occupation of the country. Despite numerous armed rebellions, assassinations and intellectual and cultural resistance, suppression and a cultural assimilation policy that included forcing Koreans to take Japanese names and forbidding them to speak the Korean language allowed Japan to maintain colonial control.

Division[edit]

After Japan's defeat in World War II, Soviet forces occupied the northern half of Korea while US forces occupied the southern half. North and South each declared independence as separate states in 1948, with Kim Il-Sung establishing a communist regime with the support of Soviet Union in the north, and Syngman Rhee establishing a capitalist regime with the support of the United States in the south. The disastrous Korean War, which destroyed much of the country, began in 1950 when Kim Il-Sung attacked the south. US and other UN forces intervened on South Korea's side, while the Soviet Union and China supported the North. An armistice was signed in 1953 splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone, with no significant territorial gains made by either side. But a peace treaty has never been signed, and the two Koreas remain technically at war with each other to this day.

Republic of Korea[edit]

Despite initially being economically outdone by its northern rival, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth starting in the 1960s under the leadership of former military general President Park Chung Hee. As one of the East Asian Tigers, the South Korean economy's industrialization and modernization efforts gained traction in the 1980s and 1990s, with per capita income rising to 20 times the level of North Korea. In 1996, South Korea joined the OECD or "the rich nations club". Today, South Korea has been recognized as an industrialized, developed economy with some of the world's leading high technology corporations such as Samsung and LG.

Demands for greater freedom of press and human rights fomented to nationwide demonstrations that led to democratic elections in 1987, just prior to the South Korean capital of Seoul hosting the 1988 Summer Olympic Games.

South Korea is now a liberal democracy and an economic powerhouse. In June 2000, a historic first summit took place between the South's President Kim Dae-jung and the North's late leader Kim Jong-il (leading Kim Dae-jung to be awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize for South Korea), but the peace process has moved at a glacial pace.

In recent years, a phenomenon known as the "Korean Wave" (or Hallyu) in which the popularity of South Korean film, television, music, food and other culture aspects has swept most of Asia and many other parts of the world has brought increased attention to the country. The country elected its first female president in 2012.

People[edit]

Namdaemun Gate, Seoul (presently under reconstruction)

South Korea is a very homogeneous country, with nearly all native residents identifying themselves as ethnically Korean and speaking the Korean language. The largest resident minority are the Chinese, numbering around 20,000-30,000. However, there is a number of foreign laborers from China, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Southeast Asia and other parts of world as well as English teachers from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South Africa. In addition, about 30,000 American military personnel are stationed throughout the country, especially near the DMZ. South Korea's large and growing economy has attracted people from all over the world and Seoul's status as a leading financial center has brought many financial workers from North America, Europe and Japan. Today, over one million foreigners reside in South Korea.

It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, but also has one of the world's lowest birthrates (1.21 children per woman). Confucian attitudes about the importance of a male heir have led to a markedly skewed sex ratio, with about 112 men for every 100 women. This encourages many Korean men in rural areas to seek wives from other countries such as China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Although the imbalanced gender ration is a plausible explanation for the low birth rate, it may be that other social conditions do not encourage child rearing with job insecurity and long working hours, etc. About 85% of South Koreans live in urban areas.

Though East Asian tourists have been visiting Korea in droves since the turn of the millenium due to the Korean Wave (also known as 한류 hallyu), it is still largely off the radar of most Western tourists. As such, having locals stare or listen to your conversations is still somewhat a common experience among Westerners visiting Korea. Children in particular will approach you or shout a "Hi!" in passing. Much of this is done out of curiosity and eagerness to hear English spoken by native speakers. Although most Koreans have been educated in English since elementary school and most companies set a premium on possessing a certain level of fluency, in general the people will find it difficult to understand or speak it. However, many city dwellers can speak at a basic level. Tourists will normally find Koreans to be quite friendly and helpful when trying to find their way around.

Culture[edit]

Decoration of a royal palace, Changdeokgung, Seoul

Having been in the cultural sphere of China for much of its history, substantial Chinese influences are evident in traditional Korean culture. Nevertheless, many fundamental differences remain and Korea has managed to retain a distinct cultural identity from its larger neighbor. Koreans are fiercely proud of their heritage and their resistance to outside domination.

During the Joseon dynasty, Korea's dominant philosophy was a strict form of Confucianism, perhaps even more strict than the Chinese original. People were separated into a rigid hierarchy, with the king at the apex, an elite of officials and warriors and a small group of nobility below him, a middle class of merchants below them, and then a vast population of peasants. The educated were superior to the uneducated, women served men, and everybody stuck to a defined role or faced severe consequences. Korea adopted its own version of the imperial examination system invented by and used in China to select officials, creating somewhat of a premodern meritocracy for government like its Chinese counterpart. Buddhism was suppressed largely due to the widespread corruption and greed of monks and temples during the waning stages of the Goryeo dynasty. While the Joseon dynasty ceased to exist in 1910, its legacy lives on in Korean culture: education and hard work are valued above all else.

Koreans believe that the things that set them the most apart from other Asian cultures are their cuisine, their language and their hangul script. Outsiders will note their extreme modernity, tempered by a well-developed artistic and architectural joyfulness. Nothing goes undecorated if it can be helped, and they have a knack for stylish interior design. South Korea also has a vibrant film and TV industry, and the country is one of only a few countries in the world in which local films have a greater market share than Hollywood films.

Korea has a significant number of Christians (31%) and Buddhists (22%), with churches dotting the towns and temples and monasteries on hills. However, slightly less than a third of the country professes to follow no particular organized religion but most, if not all, are strongly influenced by traditional Korean Buddhist and Confucian philosophies that have been seeped into the Korean cultural background.

Sports[edit]

Baseball was brought to Korea by American missionaries in 1905 and is the most popular sport in the country. Football (soccer) gained popularity when the South Korean national team reached the Korea-Japan World Cup semi-finals in 2002. Nevertheless, baseball is the most popular sport with a strong following, with some Korean players becoming famous MLB players in the United States.

Other popular sports include golf and basketball. Badminton, table tennis and bowling are also popular and facilities for the public are widely available in cities. Korean martial arts such as taekwondo are also popular. Golf particularly has a strong following, with membership fees for Korea's top golf clubs being more expensive than those in neighbouring Japan or even the United States. Also, many of the world's top female golfers originate from Korea or are of Korean descent.

As for winter sports, speed skating (especially short track) and figure skating are extremely popular due to the repeated success of Korea in the Winter Olympics.

Books[edit]

A long and complicated relationship, contact between the West and Korea have lead to a plethora of books on the Korean experience. Here's a list of books that would be available in the two major book centres in Korea as of June 2008.

History

  • Battle for Korea: The Associated Press History of the Korean Conflict by Robert J. Dvorchak (1993) - great journalistic photography accompanied by short descriptive narratives
  • Korea Old and New: A History by Carter Eckert and Lee Ki-Baik (1991) - simply stated writing, good overview of Korea's history
  • Korea Witness: 135 years of war, crisis and new in the land of the morning calm by Donald Kirk and Choe Sang Hun (2006) - compilation of articles from foreign correspondents starting from 1871, notably from Jack London, a war correspondent from 1903-4
  • True Stories of the Korean Comfort Women by Keith Howard (1996) - unflinching look at the atrocities committed during the Japanese occupation period

Culture

  • The Koreans: Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies by Michael Breen (1999) - anectodal accounts and insights of a British journalist on the country he spends half the year in, informative and entertaining
  • Social Change in Korea published by Jimoondang (2008) - compilation of articles written by academic experts on Korea
  • The Discovery of Korea: History-Nature-Cultural Heritages-Art-Tradition-Cities by Yoo Myeong-jong (2005) - amazing scenic views on Korea

Holidays[edit]

Korea's traditional holidays follow the lunar calendar, so they fall on different days each year. The two biggest, Seollal and Chuseok, are family holidays and entail everybody returning to their hometowns en masse, meaning that all forms of long-distance transport are absolutely packed.

  • Shinjeong (신정), means New Years day: on the 1st day, January
  • Seollal (설날), on the 1st day of the 1st month in the lunar calendar, is also known as "Korean New Year". Families gather together, eat traditional foods-especially Ddugguk (떡국) and perform an ancestral service. The public holiday lasts for 3 days, which includes the eve and second day. Many shops and restaurants close for the 3 days, so this might not be an ideal time to visit.
  • Sameeljjeol (삼일절, 3.1절): 1st March, in commemoration of the March 1st resistance movement against the invading Japanese Imperial Army in 1919.
  • Orininal (어린이날): means children's day, 5th May
  • Buchonnim osinnal or sawolchopa-il: means Buddha's birthday, 8th day of the 4th month in the lunar calendar
  • Hyeonchung-il (현충일): means memorial day, 6th June. In commemoration of people who gave their lives to the nation.
  • Gwangbokjjeol (광복절): means independence day, 15th August. In commemoration of the liberation of Korean peninsula from the Japanese rule with the end of the second world war.
  • Chuseok (추석), often dubbed "Korean Thanksgiving", is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the year (usually September-October). Koreans celebrate by eating traditional foods, notably a rice cake called songpyeon (송편) and playing folk games. The public holiday lasts for 3 days.
  • Gaecheonjeol (개천절): 3rd October. In commemoration of the first formation of the nation of ancient Korea.
  • Christmas (크리스마스/성탄절) has become a major holiday in Korea due to the large number of Christian converts in recent times. As such, it is an ideal time to visit and soak up the festive mood, and maybe listen to a couple of Korean renditions of popular Christmas songs.

Climate[edit]

Korea has four distinct seasons:

  • Spring is a great time of year to be in Korea. The temperatures are warm but not hot and there's not too much rain either. However, spring is also the time when yellow dust blows over from China. Some days can be horrible to breathe because of this. Beautiful cherry blossoms bloom.
  • Summer starts with a dreary rainy season (장마철,jangma-cheol) in June and turns into a steambath in July-August, with extreme humidity and the temperature heading as high as 35°C. Best avoided unless heading to the beaches. Summer is a suitable season for go swimming to the beach in Korea. Moreover, trees in summer are in leaf.
  • Autumn, starting in September, is perhaps the best time to be in Korea. Temperatures and humidity become more tolerable, fair days are common and the justly renowned fall colors make their appearance.
  • Winter is a good time to go skiing or hot-spring hopping, and the Korean invention of ondol (floor heating) helps defrost any parts that froze outside. However, January and February can be bone-biting cold due to Siberian winds from the north. Snow is fairly common.

Electricity[edit]

South Korean households and hotels use the same dual round sockets for their electrical outlets as are found in most of Continental Europe. Anyone bringing an electronic device is advised to bring some adapter should their charger's plug be something other than the dual round type. However, some hotels may provide an adapter for you to use which you can query from reception. However, they may ask you for a deposit should you want to borrow.

South Korean electrical outlets accept appliances with a voltage rating of 220V at 60Hz. If your appliance has this rating that includes 220V (Such as 100-240V that most laptop chargers now accept), you will be able to use the appliance with only a plug adapter. If it falls below or above this rating, you will need to purchase a transformer or a voltage adapter before leaving your country.

Some very old buildings and very new hotels and apartments are dual wired and also have 110V outlets (identifiable by the smaller dual flat sockets) in addition to the regular South Korean variety, built specifically to accomodate the Japanese and Americans.

Regions[edit]

South Korea regions map.png
Gyeonggi
surrounding Seoul and covered in its urban sprawl. Notable Places: Korean Demilitarised Zone, Suwon.
Gangwon
natural wonderland; Seoraksan National Park, east-coast beaches and ski resorts. Notable Places: Chuncheon
North Chungcheong
landlocked province filled with mountains and national parks. Notable Places: Danyang, Cheongju.
South Chungcheong
central western part of the country. Flat area made up of rice paddies. Point where main train lines and highways converge and known for its hot springs. Notable Places: Daejeon, Gongju, Boryeong.
North Gyeongsang
largest province and richest area for historical and cultural sites. Notable places: Andong, Gyeongju and the islands of Ulleungdo.
South Gyeongsang
known for its gorgeous seaside cities and most respected temples. Notable Places: Busan, Haeinsa Temple, Jinju.
North Jeolla
Great Korean food. Notable Places: Jeonju
South Jeolla
Lots of beautiful small islands and landscape, fantastic food (especially seafood along the coast) and good for fishing. Notable Places: Gwangju, Boseong, Yeosu.
Jeju
Korea's honeymoon island, built by a volcano. Great scenery with wild flowers and horseback riding. One of the few places you may need a car.
South Korean claimed provinces of North Korea.

Cities[edit]

  • Seoul (서울) — the dynamic 600 year old capital of South Korea, a fusion of the ancient and modern
  • Busan (부산, 釜山) — the second largest city and a major port city of Korea.
  • Incheon (인천, 仁川) — second busiest port in the country, location of the country's largest international airport
  • Daegu (대구, 大邱) — a cosmopolitan city, rich with ancient traditions and sights
  • Daejeon (대전, 大田) — a large and dynamic metropolis located in Chungnam province
  • Gwangju (광주, 光州) — the administrative and economic centre of the area, the largest city in the province
  • Gyeongju (경주, 慶州) — the ancient capital of the Silla Kingdom
  • Jeonju (전주, 全州) — once the spiritual capital of the Joseon Dynasty, now a leading center of the arts filled with museums, ancient buddhist temples, and historical monuments
  • Chuncheon (춘천, 春川) — capital city of Gangwon province, surrounded by lakes and mountains and known for local dishes, dakgalbi and makguksu

Other destinations[edit]

  • Jirisan National Park — the oldest, largest and probably most famous national park of South Korea
  • Seoraksan National Park — spread out over four cities and counties, the country's most renowned national park and mountain range
  • Andong — historically rich in Confucious traditions and home of living folk village
  • Guinsa — spectacular mountain headquarters of the Buddhist Cheondae sect
  • Panmunjeom — the only tourist site in the world where the Cold War is still reality
  • Boseong — rolling hills blanketed with green tea leaves where you can stroll along a wooded path and stop at a nearby spa to drink the home grown tea and take a seawater bath.
  • Yeosu — one of the country's most picturesque port cities especially at night, nominated to host the 2012 World Expo. Famous for its seafood and beaches, you can visit some of the islands in Hallyeo Ocean Park with cruise or watch sunset from its fabulous Dolsan Bridge or romantic cafes near marinas.
  • Jindo — commonly associated with the dog native to that area, the Jindo, every year people flock to the area to witness the parting of the sea and participate with the accompanying festivities
  • Ulleungdo — scenic remote island off the east coast of peninsula

Visiting[edit]

Caution
Please note that the South Korea Immigration authorities have recently started fingerprinting and taking digital face pictures of visitors on arrival. These fingerprints and images may well find their way to your country's authorities or non-state agencies.

The nationals of 109 countries and territories, including all the usual suspects, will receive a visa on arrival valid for 30 to 90 days; see Hi Korea for the latest details. Rules for visiting only Jeju are even more lenient, allowing in everybody except citizens of 11 countries. Don't overstay, even by a single day — this incurs heavy fines and possible jail time, and you'll probably be banned from re-entering.

Military personnel travelling under the SOFA for South Korea are not required to possess a passport for entry, provided they hold a copy of their travel orders and a military ID. On the other hand, dependants must hold a passport and A-3 visa for entry.

Most foreigners staying longer than 90 days must register with the authorities within 90 days of entry and obtain an Alien Registration Card. Contact your local authorities for further information.

By plane[edit]

South Korea has 7 international airports: Busan (Gimhae Airport), Cheongju, Daegu, Jeju, Muan, Seoul (Gimpo Airport and Incheon International Airport). South Korea experienced an airport building frenzy and today many of the smaller international airports do not have regular services.

  • Incheon International Airport, about 1 hour west of Seoul, is the country's largest airport, with good connections throughout the world. This is also one of the the best run and best designed airports in the world - a pleasure to use, although if you arrive late watch out for pushy taxi drivers lying about the hotel buses and trying to get you to pay 3x the normal fare. There are direct inter-city buses to many locations throughout South Korea just outside the international arrival hall. You can buy the tickets at the airport. The airport has a new express train that goes directly to Seoul Station. (In fact you can check in to your flight in Seoul station).

Seoul Incheon is served by most of the larger international airlines, and most of the rest offer code share flights. While the domestic Korean Air and Asiana offer the most flights, there are daily flights from a couple dozen operators, these include, from Europe: Air France, British Airways, KLM, Lufthansa, Finnair, Aeroflot and Turkish Airlines, from North America: Air Canada, American, Delta, United, Hawaiian Airlines, and Thai Airways. Many airlines also offer connecting service through Tokyo-Narita (often code shared with JAL or ANA), or anouther hub in Asia, such as Singapore Airlines via Singapore and Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong. JAL, ANA, and Korean Air connect many South Korean and Japanese cities, and larger Japanese cities are often served by budget airlines as well.

  • Seoul Gimpo airport is more centrally located to Seoul than Incheon, but it offers primarilly domestic flights to most South Korean cities. There are, however, a few routes offering international "city shuttle" services to many Asain cities such as Tokyo-Haneda, Osaka, Nagoya, Beijing, Shanghai-Hongqiao and Taipei-Songshan. If you are transfering in one of these city, it might worth an attempt to find a conecting flight to the more convient Gimpo rather than Incheon, but this is often difficult due to these airports also being secondary, primarilly domestic airports. On the ground, you can connect from Incheon airport either by train or by limousine bus in about 1 hour.
  • Busan's Gimhae airport has international connections to China, Japan, Hong Kong, Philippines, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. There is also a Lufthansa flight from Munich, Germany via Incheon but the flight has no Eighth Freedom rights to transport passengers between Busan and Seoul. Gimhae also has a few flights a day directly from Seoul Incheon, which is much more convenient than changing to Seoul Gimpo Airport after a long international flight.
  • Jeju has flights from most South Korean cities, as well as international flights to nearby major Taiwanese, Japanese and Chinese cities including Hong Kong.

Korean Air and Asiana are the principal carriers to and from South Korea. There are a growing number of budget airlines including Air Busan, Jin Air, Eastar Jet and Jeju Air that fly both domestic and international routes.

By train[edit]

Travel from North Korea (and hence anywhere else in Asia) to South Korea by train remains impossible in practice. There have been a few test runs on the newly rebuilt railroad connecting the two, but it will likely remain more of a political statement than travel option for some time to come. However, for travelers coming from or continuing on to Japan, special through tickets are available, giving discounts of 30% on KTX services and 9-30% on Busan-Fukuoka ferries as well as Japanese trains.

By boat[edit]

Busan Port International Passenger Terminal is the largest seaport in Korea and offers ferry rides mostly to and from Japan. There are fairly frequent ferry connections from Busan to Japan. JR Kyushu's Beetle hydrofoil service from Busan to Fukuoka is the most popular which travels to Fukuoka in just under three hours with up to five connections a day. It also offers service to near by Tsushima. All other links are slower, overnight, ferries, such as Pukwan Ferry Company's services to Shimonoseki cost ? (one-way). A Busan-Osaka ferry is operated by Panstar Line Co., Ltd..

Incheon's International Ferry Terminal 1 (Yeonan Budu, 연안부두) has services to several cities in China, such as Weihai, Dandong, Qingdao and Tianjin. The largest operator is Jinchon [1], but Incheon Port has full listings on their website [2]. The Chinese ports of Rizhao, Rongcheng and Lianyungang, all in Shandong province, can also be accessed by ferry from Pyeongtaek.

There are also weekly departures from Sokcho (Gangwon-do) to Vladivostok from USD270 operated by Dong Chun Ferry Co. Ltd..

By land[edit]

Due both to its location at the end of the Korean peninsula and the political situation with North Korea, entering South Korea overland is practically impossible. The border between North and South Korea is considered the most heavily fortified border in the world, and while some crossings have occurred at the truce village of Panmunjeom, one of the cases (a Soviet defector in 1984) was shot at by both sides and, although he survived, you might not be so lucky. In the 80's and the early 90's most of those who crossed the border either way would be arrested and prosecuted for reasons mostly referred to as 'threatening national security'.

Get around[edit]

South Korea is fairly compact and you can get anywhere very fast if you fly, and reasonably fast even if you don't. Subways are available in most of the cities including metropolitan Seoul. Larger cities currently have service or are developing subways. Travel by bus or taxi is easily available, though bus service is more economical.

By plane[edit]

South Korea is small enough that flying is more of a luxury than a necessity, with the notable exception of connections to the island of Jeju. The long-standing domestic flight duopoly of Korean Air [3] and Asiana [4] was broken in 2005 by the arrival of low-cost competitors Hansung Airlines [5] and Jeju Air [6], which offers flights not only to Jeju, but also serves the Seoul-Busan sector with lower fares than the KTX express train.

By train[edit]

KTX network map

National train operator Korail [7] connects major cities in South Korea. Neglected for a long time, a large amount of money has been plowed into the network in recent years and trains are now quite competitive with buses on speed and price, and much safer and more comfortable to boot. The main problem is that the network is still a little limited and services in rural areas are limited, with trains only once every few hours.

Particularly useful are the high-speed Korea Train eXpress (KTX) [8] services between Seoul and Busan via Daegu, Daejeon and often Ulsan, which use French TGV technology to zip along at up to 300km/h. The fastest non-stop trains cover the distance in just over two hours. The KTX trains have 18 cars with the first 3 being first class and the rest reserved economy seating except the very last car (number 18) which is open seating. There are drink vending machines on board and an attendant that comes by with a snack cart which includes reasonably priced beer, soda, cookies, candy, sausages, hardboiled eggs, and kimbap (rice rolls).

Seoul to Busan by train
Type Time Price
KTX 2:08 W55,500
Saemaeul 4:45 W41,100
Mugunghwa 5:30 W26,500
All prices off-peak (Mon-Thu), small surcharges apply for peak (Fri-Sun)

Non-KTX trains are poetically ranked as Saemaeul (새마을, "New Village"), Mugunghwa (무궁화, "Rose of Sharon") and Tonggeun (통근), corresponding roughly to express, semi-express and local services. Saemaeul trains are a little pricier than buses, while Mugunghwa are about 30% cheaper. However Saemaeul trains are extremely comfortable, having seats that are comparable to business class seats on airplanes. Though with the introduction of the KTX, there are much fewer Saemaeul and Mugunghwa services, they are worth trying them out. Tonggeun, formerly Tonggil, are cheapest of all, but long-distance, non-aircon services have been phased out and they're now limited to short stopping commuter services. Most longer-distance trains have an entertainment car with a small cafe/bar, computers with internet access (KRW500 for 15 minutes) and a few trains even have private compartments with coin-operated karaoke machines!

Smoking is not permitted on any Korean trains or stations (including open platforms).

Seoul also has an extensive commuter train network that smoothly interoperates with the massive subway system, and Busan, Daejeon, Daegu, Gwangju and Incheon also have subway services.

Tickets are much cheaper than in Japan but more expensive than other Asian countries - although the damage can be lowered by travelling on local trains rather than KTX. Buying tickets is fairly easy - self-service terminals accepting cash and credit cards are in multiple languages and are very simple to use. Station staff can usually speak basic English. Most stations are clean, modern and have good signposting in Korean and English, and compared to China or Japan, Korea's rail system is very user-friendly.

Pre-booking any train tickets a day prior (be they KTX or mugunghwa) is recommended for weekend trips, as all trains can be booked out for hours on end. On Sunday in particular, all but local trains have begun to completely book out regularly. Failure to reserve tickets in advance when departing busy hubs such as Seoul or Busan may see your options reduced to "unallocated seating" on the slowest local trains (sitting on the floor in the unairconditioned space between carriages, or standing in the toilet for much of the trip. You are, however, free to sit on any seat that seems free until someone with the ticket to that seat shows up. If you are confident in your Korean, you can ask to reserve seats on sections that are available and travel standing up the rest of the way.).

By Rail Cruise[edit]

Korail Tourism Development provides a series of rail cruise tour which enable customers to travel to sight-seeing destinations in Korea via specially designed luxury trains. Note that these trains are not covered by the KR Pass, below.

KR Pass[edit]

The KR Pass [9] is a special rail pass introduced in 2005 for non-resident foreigners only, allowing unlimited travel for a set period on any Korail train (including KTX) and including free seat reservation. The pass is not valid for first class or sleeping cars, but you can upgrade for half price if you wish. The regular pass costs KRW58,200/84,600/127,000/160,400/185,100 for 1/3/5/7/10 days, with additional discounts of 10-20% for youths (age 13-25), students and groups of 2-5 traveling together. The pass must be purchased at least five days before travel (preferably before arrival in Korea), and already took an incredible amount of travel (eg. Seoul-Busan roundtrip) to pay off, even prior to the 2011 jacking-up of prices. Serious limitations on usage apply during Korean holidays and peak travelling periods including Lunar New Year in February and Chuseok in September.

Joint KR/JR Passes between Korea and Japan also exist, however, considering how much of a discount the JR Pass offers, and how strikingly little the KR Pass does by comparison, such a combination in all practicality simply deducts value from the JR Pass. Do the maths.

By bus[edit]

Buses (버스 beoseu) remain the main mode of national transport, connecting all cities and towns. They're frequent, punctual and fast, sometimes dangerously so, so fasten the belts you'll often find in the seats.

There is a somewhat pointless division of long-distance buses into express buses (고속버스 gosok beoseu) and inter-city buses (시외버스 si-oe beoseu), which often use separate terminals to boot. In addition, local inner-city bus (시내버스 si-nae beoseu) networks often connect directly neighbouring cities. The express vs. intercity bus differentiation comes down to whether the nation's toll expressways (고속 gosok) are traversed. In practical terms, express buses are marginally faster on long runs, but inter-city buses go to more places. For additional comfort, look for Udeung buses (우등 버스) which have just three seats across instead of the usual four; these cost about 50% extra. A fourth layer of bus exists, which is the airport limousine bus, a seperate network of express buses that ferry people directly to and from Incheon International Airport. Note that the airport limousines typically run from seperate pickup points again to the intercity or express bus terminal.

Make sure to ask whether it is a or there are direct bus(ses) or opt for the express and real inter-city busses, because local inner-city busses sometime make many stops in between, which can mean 2h 45min for 120km, e.g. Jinju to Joenju.

Korean buses have no toilets, and rest stops are not standard on trips of less than 2 hours duration, so think twice about that bottle of tea or soda at the terminal.

Korean Express Bus Lines Association [10]: Timetables and fares of the Express bus routes in South Korea

By boat[edit]

Ferry boats surround the peninsula and shuttle out to Korea's many islands. The main ports include Incheon, Mokpo, Pohang, and Busan. The most popular destinations are Jeju-do and Ulleungdo. However even at peak times, the mostly undiscovered and scenic islands off of Incheon can seem almost deserted. Foreigners as well as locals will opt for the warmer shores of the South and East.

By car[edit]

The legal driving age in South Korea is 18.

An International Driving Permit (IDP) may be used to drive around South Korea. In general, road conditions are good in South Korea and directional signs are in both Korean and English. Car rental rates start from ₩54,400 a day for the smallest car for about a week. Traffic moves on the right in South Korea.

However, if travelling in the big cities, especially Seoul, driving is not recommended as the roads are plagued with traffic jams, with parking expensive and difficult to find, and many drivers tend to get reckless under such conditions, weaving in and out of traffic. Drivers would often try to speed past traffic lights when they are about to turn red, and several cars (including fully-loaded public transit buses) will typically blow-through the light after it has turned red whether pedestrians are in the crosswalk or not. Driving habits in Korea, while not the best, are still significantly better than in China. Note that road courtesy is almost non-existent in Korean cities and it is best to read up on Korean road culture before attempting to drive.

By taxi[edit]

Taxis are a convenient, if somewhat pricey way of getting around the cities, and are sometimes the only practical way of reaching a place. Even in the major cities, you are extremely unlikely to get an English-speaking taxi driver, so it will be necessary to have the name of your destination written in Korean to show your taxi driver. Likewise, get your hotel's business card to show the taxi driver in case you get lost.

Note that whilst technically illegal, cab drivers, particularly the lower-flagfall white cabs on busy Friday or Saturday nights, may deny service to short-distance fares. A very handy technique to counter this is to have your destination (hotel name or just gu and dong, in Korean of course) written in thick black ink on a large sheet of paper and hold it to the traffic. Passing cab drivers responding to long distance call outs, or with space in their cab in addition to an existing fare in that direction will often pick you up en route.

When hailing a cab in particular, ensure you follow the local custom and wave it over with your hand extended but all your fingers extended downwards and beckoning as opposed to upwards in the Western fashion (this style is reserved for animals).

Talk[edit]

Handwritten hangul in an advertisement

       See also: Korean phrasebook

Koreans speak Korean, and knowing a few words of this will come in very handy. Unfortunately the language is rather drastically different from any Western language in its grammar, and pronunciation is rather difficult for the English speaker to get right (though not tonal). Depending on which part of the country you go to, various different dialects are spoken, though standard Korean, which is based on the Seoul dialect, is understood and spoken by almost everyone. Most notably among the dialects, the Gyeongsang dialect spoken around Busan and Daegu is considered to be rather rough and aggressive compared to standard Korean, and the Jeju dialect spoken on Jeju island is known for being almost incomprehensible to speakers of standard Korean, although the pure Jeju dialect is becoming less common.

Written Korean uses a unique phonetic writing system called hangul (한글 hangeul) where sounds are stacked up into blocks that represent syllables. It was designed by a committee and looks like, at first glance, all right angles and little circles, but it is remarkably consistent and logical and quite fast to pick up. Many Korean words can also be written with much more complex Chinese characters, known as hanja (한자, 漢字) in Korean, and these are still occasionally mixed into text but are increasingly few and far between. Nowadays, hanja are mainly used for disambiguation if the meaning is ambiguous when written in hangul. In such instances, the hanja is usually written in parentheses next to the hangul. Hanja are also used to mark janggi (장기, 將棋) or Korean chess pieces, newspaper headlines, as well as personal names on official documents.

Learning to read hangul before you arrive in Korea will make travelling much easier, as many signs and menus are written in hangul only. Even basic pattern-matching tricks come in handy: for example, if you know that a circle at the bottom of a block is read -ng, you can already distinguish Pyongyang (평양) from Seoul (서울). Further, the Korean words for many common products — coffee, juice, computer — are often the same as the English words, but will be written in hangul. If you can read hangul, you'll find surviving in Korea surprisingly easy.

The spelling of Korean words in Roman letters can be quite inconsistent, so don't be too surprised to see adjacent signs for Gwangalli and Kwanganri — it's the same place. In 2000, the government officially standardized on the Revised Romanization system also used in Wikitravel, but you will frequently encounter older McCune-Reischauer spellings and just plain weird spellings. Notably, words beginning with g, d, b, j may be spelled with k, t, p, ch instead, and the vowels eo and eu may be spelled o and u. The letters l, r and n also get swapped often, and the vowels i and u are sometimes written as ee and oo respectively. In foreign words imported into Korean, f turns into p, so don't be too surprised by a cup of keopi (coffee) or a round of golpeu (golf).

Nearly all Koreans under the age of 40 have taken English lessons as part of their education, and the English level of the country is being improved by government policy and investments. However, due to lack of practice (as well as fear of mispronunciation), most Koreans have little more than a very basic grasp of English phrases in actual conversation. If you're in a pinch and need someone who speaks English, your best bet would generally be the high school or university students. Reading and writing comes much easier however, and often people will be able to read and understand a considerable amount of English even without any practice with real conversation. Many employees at airlines, hotels and stores catering to international tourists are likely to speak at least basic English. Consequently, travellers can get by in major cities with English only, but it goes without saying that learning basic Korean phrases will make your travel experience more convenient and enjoyable.

A common experience for western travellers in South Korea is to be approached by children interested in practicing their English skills. They will often take a picture of you, as proof they really talked to you.

Older folks may also still speak some Japanese. The city of Busan, being a short trip from Fukuoka in Japan has a larger number of Japanese speakers per capita, and the dialect itself is more similar to Japanese in the same way that the Japanese dialect in Fukuoka also has a large Korean influence. However, many Koreans (especially older ones) still resent the Japanese for the atrocities committed during the occupation, so try not to address a Korean in Japanese unless you have no other choice. Thanks to the "Korean wave" (hallyu) of Korean pop music and soap operas throughout East Asia, many shopkeepers in touristy areas speak some Japanese, Mandarin or Cantonese.

See[edit][add listing]

As South Korea is being a more popular tourist destination, it is hard to list many sightseeing spots here, it would be best to visit pages on specific cities/provinces. However a trip to South Korea is not complete without a visit to the capital, Seoul, and its famous sites, such as the palaces Kyeongbokgung (경복궁), Changdeokgung (창덕궁), Secret Garden (비원), Gwanghwamun (광화문), Seodaemun (서대문), as well as the Seoul Tower (서울타워) accompanied by the famous Teddy Bear Museum. The Banpo bridge (반포대교) turns into beautiful colours at night, and the Yeouido Island (여의도), apart from the famous 63 Building has splendid parks for rollerblading/biking. You can never miss the Han River (한강) if you cross the bridges connecting Kangbuk and Kangnam of Seoul whilst taking a taxi, subway train or bus.

The other major city, Busan, is also a common area to spend a few days. The city is perhaps most know by tourists for the Haeundae beach (해운대), which is very beautiful and, in the summer, the atmosphere is compairable to beaches in southern France or California. Families in Korea often take summer holidays in this area. There are also many famous temples and historical sites in the area, and as a large city, there are also many popular shopping and cultural destinations.

  • Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) – On July 27th 1953, The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was established as a cease-fire agreement with a boundary area of 2km between North and South Koreas. It is also said that there are still a lot of landmines buried in DMZ.
In addition, Panmunjeom aka JSA (Joint Security Area) is the only ‘truce village’ of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where tourists can view North and South Korea without much hostility. It is probably the only unique area without many troops around, as the other areas separating the two Koreas is the most heavily armed in the world. Here you can also enter one of the three buildings/bungalows that are located on top of the border aka MDL, which means you can virtually/actually cross the border when entering those buildings. The border is indicated by the concrete line where North and South Korean soldiers face each other coldly. The purpose of those buildings is for family meetings and negotiations. This place is know from many pictures and the tour includes the bridge of no return, which is situated in the same location.
The Third Tunnel of Aggression, created by North Korea, was discovered in 1978. This tunnel is not more than an hour or 44km away from Seoul and it is 1.7 km long, 2 m high, 2 m wide and about 73m below ground. Black coke was painted on the wall as a camouflage to look like a coal mine.

The World Heritage cultural sites in Gyeongju and the natural sites on Jeju Island are very popular, and especially Jeju with its many sights and things to do very much worth it.

Jeonju and Andong are famous for their traditional villages and specific dishes, Bibimbap (비빔밥) as well as stewed chicken (찜닭, jjimdak) and salted mackerel (간고등어, gan godeungeo) respectively.

Do[edit][add listing]

As South Korea is increasingly becoming a popular tourist destination, you might want to visit our individual destination pages for specific provinces/cities - an excellent starting point is Seoul.

  • Stay in a Jjimjilbang overnight and experience something not available in the western world - a decent sauna, bath house and place to rest for many hours. This is especially convenient if you missed to make a reservation for an accommodation, everything is full or you are looking for a cheap way to stay overnight.
  • Jeju is an island far south of South Korea which offers many opportunities for tourists and is therefore very famous. Worth meantioning are in particular Mt. Halla, Manjanggul lava-tube, Seongsan Ilchubong, and Loveland.
  • Jirisan National Park (지리산) is the first and largest national park of Korea, and very famous with the Koreans. It offers great views and hikes along the mountain ridges and amazing experiences during the winter. Even though not catered much for foreign tourists, 1-3 day tracks (max 40-45km) can be organized and easily done - sign posts and maps are in English as well. Half a dozen shelters/huts (mostly well heated, but bring a sleeping bag) are available along the many tracks, whose starting and finishing points have good bus connections from and to the cities around Jirisan.

Another mountain within the mainland is Seoraksan (설악산). There are a lot of other hiking opportunities - good website about Korean trails. All of them are excellent places for hiking/trekking and taking pictures. In autumn the leaves turn into beautiful colours, so the best seasons to go there are autumn and spring.

You can also go snowboarding/skiing in the Kangwon-do province. The province is very beautiful when it snows. Also see the Seoul guide for close to the city destinations.

Karaoke, or noraebang (노래방), is popular and hard to miss wherever you go in metropolitan cities.

You can also learn martial arts such as the famous taekwondo (태권도), hapkido (합기도), and the dance-like martial art taekkyeon (택견).

The city of Boryeong in Chunchungnam-do hosts a Mud Festival (보령머드축제) that has become a fun (and slightly notorious) pastime in mid-July. Participants drench themselves in mud and take part in everything from mud wrestling to body painting. The nearby beach becomes something of a party apocalypse. Inquire about lodging at least a few weeks in advance.

The Gyeonggi-do & Kangwon-do province has plentiful water amusement parks, such as Caribbean Bay (the park seen from the actual music video by 2PM and Girls Generation Cabi) in Yongin-si (beside Everland which is most biggest amusement park), Ocean World in Hongcheon, with a more Ancient Egyptian setting, and Ocean 700 in Pyeongchang. Tourists and locals usually go there in the summer.

Buy[edit][add listing]

Currency[edit]

The currency of South Korea is the won (₩), written 원 in hangul. As of July 2014, the exchange rate was approximately KRW1,010 per USD1 and KRW1,300 per EUR1.

Coins come in denominations of ₩10, ₩50, ₩100 and ₩500, while banknotes come in denominations of ₩1,000 (blue), ₩5,000 (red), ₩10,000 (green) and ₩50,000 (yellow). ₩1 and ₩5 coins, while they exist, are very rare. The largest bill currently in circulation is only ₩50,000 and somewhat uncommon in ATMs, which makes carrying around large sums of currency a bit of a chore. ₩100,000 "checks" are frequently used, and some of the checks go up to ₩10,000,000 in value. These checks are privately produced (by banks, etc.) which can be used as "c-notes".

A new series of notes was released in 2006/2007. As of 2013, older notes (issued before 2006/2007) are nearly non existent.

Credit cards[edit]

Credit card acceptance is very good, and all but the very cheapest restaurants and motels will take Visa and MasterCard.

ATM[edit]

ATMs are ubiquitous, but most Korean ATMs don't accept foreign cards, foreign bank ATMs however do, e.g. Citibank [11]. Having said this, there are nevertheless many special Global ATMs around. They can generally be found at Shinhan (or Jeju) Bank (remember the logo), airports, in areas frequented by foreigners, in major cities, some subway stations, and in many Family Mart convenience stores - most of the time indicated by the "Foreign Cards" button on the screen.

Sometimes however even the Global ATMs may not accept your foreign card, so it is wise to have a second source of money for those times or to ensure your card is fully accepted. Be sure to stock up on cash before heading to the countryside or other remote areas.

Some banks have a fee of KRW3,500 for foreign cards, especially Citibank - just opt for a different bank.

T-Money card[edit]

An alternative source of payment accepted widely, especially for transport, is the T-Money card. In Seoul you can buy this card at most subway stations and many newspaper kiosks near subway entrances, as well as convenience stores (7/11, CUC, GS25). The card itself costs ₩3,000 (not refundable) and cash can be charged onto the card as often as you like. You can get all but ₩500 back if you have unused credit.

When entering and leaving a subway turnstile or the bus, place the card on the reader (leaving it inside your purse or wallet is fine), and it will deduct the appropriate fare from the card. Note that if you do not tag the machine as you leave the bus, you will be charged the maximum fare possible by the route. However, be aware that on buses outside of Seoul and especially in the countryside only placing it once when entering may be sufficient, otherwise you will get charged twice - just observe what the locals are doing.

Using this card will save you ₩100 on Seoul's transfer system and it accounts for changing between subway, train and bus for up to 30min, i.e. instead of paying the full fare for each type of transport, a smaller amount or 0 is deducted the second and third time and so on, e.g. when coming from or going to the airport. I.e., for example, if you travel 10km by subway, transfer to a bus and travel a further 5km, KRW1,050 will be deducted once you leave the subway, nothing will be deducted when you enter the bus, but you will be deducted ₩100 for the extra 5km journey when you leave the bus.

Typically for most travelers staying less than 2 weeks in Korea or Seoul, purchasing this card may not be cheaper but consider: it can be used countrywide for taxi fares, buses, storage lockers, pay phones, (convenience) stores, restaurants and most transport systems.

There also exist other such cards, especially outside of Seoul and topping up T-Money can be a problem there, but at Shinhan (or Jeju) Bank (remember the logo) it should always be possible. You may need to ask the local cashier due to the Korean-only menus/buttons.

Bank account[edit]

If you plan on staying in Korea for a longer time, you'll probably want to set up a local account at e.g. Woori Bank, which can then be used at the bank's ATMs throughout the country. Even some non-local accounts can do this, e.g. Woori Bank accounts set up in China come with an ATM card that can be used with all its ATMs in Korea.

Costs[edit]

Korea is fairly expensive compared to most Asian countries, but it is a less expensive than Japan and, when compared to other fully modern, developed, countries, it is on the cheaper side. A frugal backpacker who enjoys eating, living and travelling Korean-style can easily squeeze by on under ₩60,000 per day, but if you want a regular hotel and to eat your meals in restaurants ₩200,000/day is probably more realistic.

Seoul has been particularly expensive in recent years due to high real estate values, by some measures even more so than Tokyo, but this has calmed down since the 2008 financial crisis, and while the Won has recovered since then, hotels and restaurants, are still generally lower priced than they were in the 2000s.

Tipping[edit]

As a rule, tipping is not necessary anywhere in Korea, and is not practised by locals, although bellhops, hotel maids, taxi drivers and bars frequented by Westerners will not reject any tips you care to hand out.

Shopping[edit]

At certain retail outlets with a "Tax Free Shopping" or a "Tax Refund Shopping" sign, you can obtain a voucher and get a large percentage of your taxes refunded. When you leave Korea, go to customs and have it stamped then go to the "Global TaxFree" or "Global Refund Korea" counters near the duty-free shops. However to get a refund you must leave within 3 months of purchase.

Bargaining is common at outdoor markets and applies to everything they may have to offer. However stating a monetary amount would be a mistake. Normally what you would say is ssage juseyo (싸게 주세요). That means "cheaper, please." Doing this once or twice would suffice. The drawback is you will rarely be discounted more than a few dollars.

  • Ginseng: Korea is the ginseng (인삼 insam) capital of the world. Thought to have medicinal properties, it is found everywhere in Korea. In addition to ginseng tea and various foods flavored with ginseng, there are even ginseng-based beauty products. There are many grades of ginseng, with the best grades fetching millions of US dollars in auctions. A good place to check out the different types of ginseng include Gyeongdong Herbal Medicine Market in Seoul.
  • Traditional items: Visitors looking for things to bring home can find a wide variety of choices. You can find a blue-jade celadon from the Goryeo Dynasty, handmade traditional costumes, paper kites and ceramic pieces that depict human emotions in their designs at the numerous markets and souvenir shops. Insadong in Seoul would be the first place to shop around. After a while one store might start to look like every other store but chances are you'll find what you need.
  • Fashion: Keeping up with the latest trends, shoppers and boutique owners alike flock the streets and markets every weekend. Centred largely in Seoul with popular places such as Dongdaemun, Mok dong Rodeo Street and Myeong dong, fashion centres can be divided into two large categories; markets and department stores. Markets are affordable and each shop will have trendy similar type clothing that appeal to the masses. Also, be aware that you cannot try on most tops. So better to know your size before shopping there. Though department stores will have areas or floors that have discounted items, they are considered overpriced and catering mostly to an older, wealthier crowd.
  • Antiques: For all things considered antique, such as furniture, calligraphic works, ceramics and books, you can go to Jangangpyeong Antique Market in Seoul. Be careful, as items over 50 years old cannot leave the country. Check with the Art and Antique Assessment Office at 82-32-740-2921.
  • Electronics: They are widely available, especially in larger cities like Seoul and Busan. Korea has most of the latest gadgets available in most Western countries, and much more. In fact, when it comes to consumer technology, South Korea is probably second only to Japan. However, you would probably have to contend with having the instruction booklets and functions being written in Korean.
  • Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs): Korea's greatest contribution to the gaming world. While they may not have been invented in Korea, Korean MMORPG's were a key factor in making the genre popular worldwide. Unlike in Japan, where their comics or manga are often made into cartoon serials or anime, popular Korean comics, known as manhwa(만화) in Korean are often made into MMORPG's. However, all games sold will be in Korean and for console games, the regional coding for Korea is NTSC-J, which is used for Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and most of the rest of East Asia, so you might not be able to play them on your European/Australian(PAL), North American(NTSC-U/C) or mainland Chinese(NTSC-C) consoles.
  • Pop culture: South Korea is the origin of the hallyu ("Korean wave") phenomenon that took East Asia by storm at the beginning of the 21st century, so you might want to buy some of the latest Korean drama serials or movies when in Korea. Fans of K-pop may also like to buy the latest Korean music CDs by popular singers such as DongBangShinKi and Super Junior. However, drama serials and movies sold in Korea are for the Korean market and usually do not have subtitles. In addition, South Korea is in DVD region 3 so the discs bought here would work well in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, but may not be playable by players bought in North America, Europe, mainland China, Japan or Australia. If you wish to buy, ensure that your DVD player can support it.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Example of a Korean meal: bibimbap with (from left) pickles, eomuk jorim sauteed fishcake, kimchi, pajeon pancake, a pot of gochujang and doenjang soup
Kimchi

Korean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular outside of Korea, especially in other parts of East Asia and the U.S. However, those unfamiliar with Korean cuisine will have to be wary for the many spicy and fermented dishes in Korean cuisine. Nevertheless, it is addictive once you get used to it and Korean food is definitely in a class of its own, mixing spicy chillies and copious amounts of garlic with delicate ingredients like raw fish. Although Korean food is quite low in fat, a fact attested to by the observation that very few South Koreans are overweight, those with sodium-limited diets should beware, as Korean cuisine can be heavy in salt.

A Korean meal is centered around rice and soup and likely a fish or meat dish, invariably served with a vast assortment of side dishes known as banchan (반찬). The humblest meal comes with three types while a royal banquet may well feature twenty types of banchan. In addition to kimchi (see below), typical side dishes include bean sprouts (콩나물 kongnamul), spinach (시금치 shigeumchi), small dried fish, and much more.

The ubiquitous kimchi (김치 gimchi), made from fermented cabbage and chili, accompanies nearly every meal and may be a bit of an acquired taste for visitors as it can be quite spicy. In addition to the common cabbage type, kimchi can also be made from white radish (깍두기 kkakdugi), cucumbers (오이 소박이 oi sobagi), chives (부추 김치 buchu gimchi) or pretty much any vegetable that can be pickled. Many different dishes are made using kimchi for flavoring, and kimchi is served as a side dish as well. It is not uncommon to find Korean tourists carrying a stash of tightly packed kimchi when travelling abroad.

Two more condiments found in almost every dish are doenjang (된장), a fermented soybean paste akin to Japanese miso, and gochujang (고추장), a spicy chilli paste.

While many of these dishes can be found throughout Korea, every city also has its own regional specialities, such as dakgalbi (닭갈비) in the city of Chuncheon. See the various city articles for more details.

A common perception amongst Koreans is that foreigners simply don't like spicy food, so you might have to spend some time convincing people otherwise if you really want to eat something hot. Also, while Korean food undoubtedly has the neighboring bland-dieted Japanese and northern Chinese breathing fire, if you're accustomed to (say) Thai or Mexican food you may wonder what the fuss is about.

Be aware that eating is deemed a group activity in Korea, and some restaurants may charge a little bit extra or up to double the stipulated price for a lone patron, or on rare occasions, be uneasy with serving them at all.

Etiquette[edit]

Korean chopsticks and spoon made of stainless steel.

Koreans use chopsticks with a twist: alone among the peoples of Asia, they prefer chopsticks of metal. Typically, restaurants have stainless steel chopsticks, but fine silver ones are also available. Unfortunately for the chopstick learner, these thin and slippery sticks are not the best implements to practice with, but if you can eat with wooden or plastic chopsticks you'll manage with some fumbling. When eating as a group, communal dishes will be placed in the center and everybody can chopstick what they want, but you'll still get individual portions of rice and soup. Unless you are eating royal cuisine, most dishes are served family style.

In many traditional households, children were taught that it was impolite to speak during meals. Don't be surprised if there's complete silence while eating. People, particularly men, will use mealtimes to quickly eat up and move on to other things. This can be attributed to the short mealtimes during military service that most young Korean men must perform.

Some etiquette pointers:

  • Do not leave chopsticks sticking upright in a dish, especially rice. This is only done when honoring the deceased. Similarly, a spoon sticking upright into a bowl of rice is also not a good sign.
  • Do not start eating unless the eldest at the table has begun to eat.
  • Do not lift any plates or bowls off the table while eating, as Koreans consider this to be rude.
  • You can use your spoon to eat your rice and soup. Koreans will normally use a spoon to eat their rice and use chopsticks to eat the other dishes.
  • Don't be self-conscious of whether you're doing something right or wrong. Just use your common sense of politeness and good manners, and everything will be fine.

Restaurants[edit]

Going hungry in South Korea would be difficult. Everywhere you turn, there is always somewhere to eat. Korean restaurants can be divided into a few categories:

  • Bunsik (분식) are snack eateries that have cheap, tasty food prepared quickly.
  • Gogijip (고기집), literally meaning "meat house", are where you'll find grilled meat dishes and fixings.
  • Hoejip (회집), "raw fish house", serve slices of fresh fish akin to Japanese sashimi, known as hwe in Korean, and complementary side dishes. You'll normally find these restaurants cluttering the shores of any waterway.
  • Hansik (한식). The full course Korean meal, short for hanjeongsik (한정식), this Korean haute cuisine originated with banquets given at the royal palace. The course starts with a cold appetizer and porridge juk (죽). The main dish includes seasoned meat and vegetable dishes that can be either steamed, boiled, fried or grilled. After the meal, you are served traditional drinks such as sikhye (식혜) or sujeonggwa (수정과).
  • Department Stores have two types of food areas: a food hall in the basement and full service restaurants on the top levels. The food hall areas have take-away as well as eat-in areas. The full service restaurants are more expensive, but typically have the advantage of picture menus and good ambience.

Coffee Shops[edit]

Koreans love coffee. Besides the Starbuckses, the Coffee Beans, which are quite popular within Korea, Korea has their own version of successful Western-style coffee chains such as TOMnTOMS, Caffe Bene, and Hollys. Korea has a variety of themed cafes.

Barbecues[edit]

Galbi on the grill and the accompaniments around it

"Korean barbecue" is probably the most popular Korean dish for Westerners, split in Korea itself into bulgogi (불고기), which uses cuts of marinated meat, and galbi (갈비), which uses ribs, usually unmarinated. In both, a charcoal brazier is placed in the middle of the table and patrons cook their choice of meats, adding garlic to the brazier for spice. The cooked meat from both of these is placed on a lettuce or perilla leaf along with shredded green onion salad (파무침 pa-muchim), raw (or cooked) garlic, shredded pickled radish (무채 muchae) and some chili-soya paste (쌈장 ssamjang) and then devoured. All are optional, so be creative.

The cost of a barbecue meal depends largely on the meat chosen. In most Korean restaurants that serve meat, it is sold in units (usually 100 grams). Pork is by far the most common meat ordered. It's much cheaper than beef and according to diners tastier. You'll rarely see filet mignon, instead common cuts of meat include ribs, unsalted pork bacon (삼겹살 samgyeopsal) and chicken stir-fried with veggies and spicy sauce (닭갈비 dakgalbi). Unmarinated meats tend to be higher quality, but in cheaper joints it's best to stick with the marinated stuff.

Rice dishes[edit]

Bibimbap
Gimbap

Bibimbap (비빔밥) literally means "mixed rice", which is a pretty good description. It consists of a bowl of rice with all sorts of condiments on top (vegetables, shreds of meat, and an egg), which you mash up with your spoon, stirring in your preferred quantity of gochujang (고추장 chili sauce), and then devour. Particularly tasty is dolsot bibimbap (돌솥비빔밥), served in a piping hot stone bowl (watch your fingers!) that cooks the rice to a crisp on the bottom and edges.

Another healthy and tasty option is gimbap (김밥), sometimes dubbed "Korean sushi". Gimbap contains rice, sesame seed, a Korean variety of spinach, pickled radish, and an optional meat, such as minced beef or tuna, all neatly wrapped in dried seaweed, topped with sesame oil and sliced. A single roll makes a good snack or meal depending on one's appetite, and they travel well. Basically what differentiates Korean gimbap and Japanese sushi is how they prepare rice: Korean style gimbap usually use salt and sesame oil to flavor the rice, while Japanese style uses sugar and vinegar.

More of a snack than a meal is tteokbokki (떡볶이), which resembles a pile of steaming intestines at first sight, but is actually rice cakes (tteok, 떡) in a sweet chili sauce that's much milder than it looks.

Soups and stews[edit]

Budae jjigae, a spicy stew originated during the Korean War.

Soups are known as guk (국) or tang (탕), while jjigae (찌개) covers a wide variety of stews. The line is fuzzy, and a few dishes can be referred to with both (eg. the fish soup-stew dongtae jjigae/dongtaetang), but in general, jjigae are spicier while tang/guk are milder. Both are always eaten with plenty of white rice on the side.

Common versions jjigae include doenjang jjigae (된장찌개), made with doenjang (Korean miso), vegetables and shellfish, and gimchi jjigae (김치찌개), made with — you guessed it — kimchi. Sundubu jjigae (순두부찌개) uses soft tofu as the main ingredient, usually with minced pork added, but there's also a seafood version called haemul sundubu jjigae(해물 순두부찌개) where the meat is replaced by shrimp, squid and the like.

Budae jjigae (부대찌개) is a interesting type of Korean fusion food from the city of Uijeongbu, where a US military base was located. Locals experimenting with American canned food like Spam, sausages, and pork and beans tried adding them into jjigae, and while recipes vary, most of them involve large quantities of fiery kimchi. Most places will bring you a big pan of stew and put it on a gas stove in the middle of the table. Many like to put ramyeon noodle (라면 사리) in the stew, which is optional.

Popular tang soups include seolleongtang (설렁탕), a milky white broth from ox bones and meat, gamjatang (감자탕), a stew of potatoes with pork spine and chillies and doganitang (도가니탕), made from cow knees. One soup worth a special mention is samgyetang (삼계탕, pron. "saam-gae-taang"), which is a whole spring chicken stuffed with ginseng and rice. Thanks to the ginseng, it's often a little expensive, but the taste is quite mild. It's commonly eaten right before the hottest part of summer in warm broth in a sort of "eat the heat to beat the heat" tradition.

Guk are mostly side dishes like the seaweed soup miyeokguk (미역국) and the dumpling soup manduguk (만두국), but a few like the scary-looking pork spine and ox blood soup haejangguk (해장국), a popular hangover remedy, are substantial enough to be a meal.

Noodles[edit]

Koreans are great noodle lovers too, and the terms kuksu (국수) and myeon (면) span a vast variety of types, sold in fast-food noodle shops for as little as KRW3,000-4,000. Wheat-based noodles are a staple of Korea.

Naengmyeon, Korean cold noodle soup.

Naengmyeon (냉면) are a Korean speciality, being thin, chewy buckwheat noodles served in ice cold beef broth, and hence a popular summer dish — although it's traditionally winter food! They're also a classic way to end a heavy, meaty barbeque meal. The key to the dish is the broth (육수 yuksu) and the recipes of well known restaurants are usually closely guarded secrets.

Japchae (잡채) is made from yam noodles, which are fried along with some vegetables (commonly cabbage, carrots, onions) and sometimes beef or odeng (fishcake). Mandu (만두) dumplings are also very popular and are served up in steamed or fried as an accompaniment to other foods, or boiled in soup to make a whole meal.

Ramyeon (라면) is Korea's variant of ramen, often served with kimchi (what else?). Korean ramyeon is well known for its overall spiciness, at least when compared to Japanese ones. Try shin ramyeon (신라면) for example.

Jjajangmyeon (짜장면) is the Korean version of the northern Chinese zhajiangmian, a wheat noodle dish served with a black sauce that usually includes minced pork, onions, cucumber, and garlic — kind of like a tomatoless spaghetti bolognese. Its sauce contains some caramel and therefore makes the overall dish sweet.

Finally, udong (우동) are thick wheat noodles, similar to the Japanese udon.

Seafood[edit]

Since Korea is a peninsula, you can find every type of seafood (해물 haemul), eaten both cooked and raw. Restaurants where you pick your own fish — or bring it from the fish market next door — are popular, but can be very expensive depending on what you order.

Hoe (회), pronounced roughly "hweh", is raw fish Korean-style (similar to sashimi), meaning it's served with spicy cho-gochujang (Korean hot pepper sauce with vinegar) sauce. Chobap (초밥) is raw fish with vinegared rice, similar to Japanese sushi. If ordering fish as hoe/chobap, the bony parts not served raw are often made into a tasty but spicy soup called maeuntang (매운탕).

Another cooked specialty is haemultang (해물탕), a spicy red hotpot stew filled with crab, shrimp, fish, squid, vegetables and noodles.

Whalemeat may also be regionally available at festivals in the outer provinces. Bear in mind that there has been quite a media ruckus over its origin: a recent study of restaurants in Seoul traced the meat back to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean. As international whale trade is illegal, and the species itself endangered, this is one decision to be left up your own moral compass.

Other[edit]

Sannakji, a raw small octupus in Korean cuisine

Jeon (전), jijimi (지짐이), jijim (지짐), bindaetteok (빈대떡) and buchimgae (부침개) are all general terms for Korean-style pan-fried pancakes, which can be made of virtually anything. Pajeon (파전) is a Korean-style pan-fried pancake laden with spring onions (파 pa). Haemul pajeon (해물파전), which has seafood added, is particularly popular. Saengseonjeon (생선전) is made of small fillets of fish covered with egg and flour and then pan fried, and nokdu bindaetteok (녹두빈대떡) is made from ground mung bean and various vegetables and meat combined.

If barbequed meat is not to your taste, then try Korean-style beef tartar, known as yukhoe (육회). Raw beef is finely shredded and then some sesame oil, sesame, pine nuts and egg yolk are added, plus soy and sometimes gochujang to taste. It's also occasionally prepared with raw tuna or even chicken instead.

Sundae (순대, pron. "soon-deh") are Korean sausages made from a wide variety of ingredients, often including barley, potato noodles and pig blood.

A squirmy delicacy is raw octopus (산낙지 sannakji) — it's sliced to order, but keeps wiggling for another half hour as you try to remove its suction cups from your plate with your chopsticks. Sea squirts (멍게 meongge) are at least usually killed before eating, but you might be hard-pressed to tell the difference as the taste been memorably described as "rubber dipped in ammonia".

Dog Meat[edit]

Hound by the pound
Yes, it's true — Koreans eat dog. While theoretically illegal, in practice the law is not enforced and dog meat soup (보신탕 bosintang or 영양탕 yeongyangtang) remains popular dish eaten as medicinal food among older men looking to improve sexual virility and for invigoration during the hottest days of summer. It is not regularly consumed as a common food item and is sold in specialty dog only restaurants. It is most commonly consumed a a spicy soup or stew or as suyuk (수육), which is just meat boiled with spices to eliminate smell and make the meat tender.

Aside from the cultural taboo, there are some issues regarding how the dogs are raised, butchered, and processed. These days, dogs are generally not beaten to death to improve the taste, but calling the conditions in which dogs are raised and butchered humane would also be an exaggeration. Even in Korea, where many people are pet owners, people get quite opinionated on this matter. So take anything you hear with a grain of salt.

In any case, you're unlikely to end up chewing on Snoopy by accident, as dog is only served by speciality restaurants, and as they rarely advertise you will have to actively seek them out. If you do make the effort, a bowl can go for under KRW10,000 and you'll find that dog tastes broadly like beef or veal, if perhaps a tad gamier.


Dietary restrictions[edit]

Vegetarians will have a tough time in Korea. As in most of East Asia, meat is understood to be the flesh of land animals, so seafood is not considered meat. If you ask for "no gogi" (고기) they will probably just cook as usual and pick out the big chunks of meat. One good phrase is to say you are chaesikjuwija (채식주의자), a person who only eats vegetables. This may prompt questions from the server, so be prepared!

Most stews will not use beef stock, but fish stock, especially myeolchi (멸치, anchovy). This will be your bane, and outside of reputable vegetarian restaurants, you should ask if you are ordering any stews/hotpots or casseroles.

Spicy (red) kimchi will almost certainly have seafood, such as salted tiny shrimp, as an ingredient. Since it disappears into the brine, you will not be able to visually identify it. Another type of kimchi, called mulgimchi (물김치, "water kimchi") is vegan, as it is simply salted in a clear, white broth with many different vegetables.

On the bright side, vegans and vegetarians are perfectly safe at Korean monastery cuisine restaurants, which uses no dairy, egg, or animal products, except perhaps honey. There has been a recent vogue for this type of cuisine, but it can be rather expensive.

There is an increasing number of vegetarian restaurants in Korea - most are in the larger or medium-sized places. Some of these are run by religious groups. The most prominent franchise is probably Loving Hut, which is vegan and rather low priced. While, you probably wouldn't make this a destination restaurant, it's a good backup plan (if you've noted the locations and closing times in advance).

Drink[edit][add listing]

The legal drinking/purchasing age of alcoholic beverages is 19.

Drinks are cheap and Koreans are among the heaviest drinkers in the world. Due to the strict social norms in effect at the workplace, the drinking hall tends to be the only place where inhibitions can be released and personal relationships expressed. Significant business deals are closed not in the boardroom, but in the bar. Promotions, grants, and other business advancements are secured over drinks at singing rooms, late night raw fish restaurants, and restaurant-bars. Many Korean men are what would be considered heavy drinkers in the west, and as alcoholism is being recognized as an ailment, public moves have begun to attempt to curb alcohol intake. Don't be surprised to see businessmen in suits lying around sleeping it off, and be careful not to step in the puddles of vomit common on the sidewalks in the mornings.

Nightlife[edit]

Compared to Western countries Korean establishments have been known to discriminate against anyone who is non-Korean. You will be denied entry into Clubs, bars, and other establishments if you are non-Asian. Korea currently does not have any anti-discrimination laws on the books. , Koreans have adopted slightly different ways to enjoy their night out. Sure, you can find Western style bars easily, but going to a Korean style bar can be an interesting experience. Hofs (originally German, but 호프 hopeu in Korean) are just normal beer places, which serve beer and side dishes. Customers are supposed to order some side dish to go along their drinks at most drinking establishments in Korea. Recently, due to growing competition, many hofs have started to install various gadgets for entertainment.

Booking clubs are the Korean version of night clubs. What makes them interesting is the "booking" part of the name. It's basically a way to meet new people of the opposite sex by introduction of the waiters (who usually bring women to visit tables of men, but increasingly vice-versa). Booking clubs are slightly more expensive than normal bars and hofs, but can be extremely fun. These can be different from American-style clubs, in that in addition to a cover charge, you are pretty much expected to order booze and side dishes (which can be quite pricey in KRW200,000-500,000 range and up). But other than that, the dancing and atmosphere is about the same.

One of the customary things to do at a booking club is to "dress-up" your table or booth by purchasing expensive liquors and fruit plates, which signals your 'status' to the other patrons of the club (especially your gender of interest). Scotch whisky is especially marked up a great deal in Korea, so don't be surprised to pay very high prices for that innocuous bottle of Johnnie Walker. On the other hand, it is a better value overall to buy a bottle of liquor or a "liquor set" than to purchase drinks individually.

On the other end of the spectrum, many locals go out to drink and eat with their friends at the many Korean grillhouses found throughout the city. It is not uncommon for people to consume several bottles of soju (see below) each, and mixing beer and hard liquor is encouraged. Group bonding over liquor and food is a cultural feature across South Korea.

For those who love singing as well as drinking, karaoke is popular and therefore widely available in South Korea, where it's called noraebang (노래방). In addition to Korean songs, larger establishments may include some Chinese, Japanese and English songs.

Etiquette[edit]

There are a few etiquette rules to observe when drinking with Koreans. You're not supposed to fill your own glass; instead, keep an eye on others' glasses, fill them up when they become empty (but not before), and they'll return the favor. It's considered polite to use both hands when pouring for somebody and when receiving a drink, and to turn your head away from seniors when drinking.

Younger people often have a difficult time refusing a drink from an older person, so be aware when asking someone younger than you if they want to drink more as they will often feel unable to say no to you. Of course, this works both ways. Often times, if an older person feels you are not keeping up with the party, he may offer you his glass, which he will then fill and expect you to drink. It is considered polite to promptly return the empty glass and refill it.

Soju[edit]

The national drink of South Korea is soju (소주), a vodka-like alcoholic beverage (usually around 20%). It's cheaper than any other drink — a 350ml bottle can cost slightly over KRW3,000 at bars (as little as KRW1,100 at convenience stores!) — and also strong. Usually this is made by fermenting starch from rice, barley, corn, potato, sweet potato, etc, to produce pure alcohol which is then diluted with water and other flavors. The manufacturing process leaves in a lot of extraneous chemicals, so be prepared for a four-alarm hangover in the morning, even after drinking a comparatively small amount.

Traditionally, soju was made by distilling rice wine and aging it, which created a smooth spirit of about 40%. This type of traditional soju can still be found, for example Andong Soju (안동 소주) — named after the town of Andong — and munbaeju (문배주). These can be expensive, but prices (and quality) vary considerably.

History tells that there were numerous brewers throughout the country in the past until late Chosun dynasty and before Japanese colonization. However, by the Japanese colonization and the oppressive and economy-obsessed government in the 60-70s, using rice for making wine or spirits was strictly prohibited. This eliminated most of the traditional brewers in the country and Korea was left with a few large distilleries (Jinro 진로, Gyeongwol 경월, Bohae 보해, Bobae 보배, Sunyang 선양, etc), that basically made 'chemical soju'. Brewery distribution and markets were regionalized, and until the 1990s it was difficult to find a Jinro soju anywhere else than Seoul (you would have to pay premium even if you found one), Gyeongwol soju outside Gangwon, or Sunyang outside Chungcheong.

Also, there are soju cocktails such as "socol" (soju + coke), ppyong-gari (soju + pocari sweat - ion drink), 'so-maek (soju + maekju(beer) which adds a bit of a kick to beer) and such, all aimed at getting you drunk quicker and cheaper.

Rice wine[edit]

Cheongju vs. sake
There are two major differences between Korean rice wine and Japanese rice wine. The first is that Korean wine uses nuruk, while Japanese wine uses koji. While both can be considered yeasts, nuruk contains various kinds of fungi and other microorganisms, while in koji a more selected breed of fungi does its job. The treatment of rice is also different: traditionally rice for making cheongju is washed "a hundred times" (paekse 백세), but for sake, the rice is polished until the grain size is as little as 50% of its original size. Therefore, some people comment that in general cheongju tastes more complicated and earthy, while sake tastes "cleaner" and "sweeter".


Traditional unfiltered rice wines in Korea are known as takju (탁주), literally "cloudy alcoholic beverage". In the most basic and traditional form, these are made by fermenting rice with nuruk (누룩), a mix of fungi and yeast that breaks down starch in rice into sugar, for a short while (3-5 days usually). Then this is strained, usually diluted to 4-6% and imbibed. However, as with the case of traditional soju, unless explicitly stated on the bottle most takju are made from wheat flour and other cheaper grains. Makgeolli (막걸리) is the simplest takju, fermented once and then strained, while in dongdongju (동동주) more rice is added once or more during the fermentation to boost the alcohol content and the flavor. Typically you can find a couple of rice grains floating in dongdongju as a result.

Yakju (약주) or cheongju (청주) is filtered rice wine, similar to the Japanese rice wine sake. The fermentation of rice is sustained for about 2 weeks or longer, strained, and then is kept still to have the suspended particles precipitate. The end result is the clear wine on top, with about 12-15% alcohol. Various recipes exist, which involves a variety of ingredients and when and how to add them accordingly. Popular brands include Baekseju (백세주) and 'Dugyeonju (두견주).

Those with an interest in the wine production process and its history will want to visit the Traditional Korean Wine Museum in Jeonju.

Ginseng wine[edit]

One expensive but tasty type of alcohol you can find in Korea is Korean ginseng wine (인삼주 insamju), which is believed to have medicinal properties and is particularly popular among the elderly. It is made by fermenting Korean ginseng, just as the name implies.

Beer[edit]

Western-style lagers are also quite popular in Korea, with the three big brands being Cass, Hite and OB, all of which are rather light and watery and cost around KRW1,500 per bottle at a supermarket. Korea's version of the beer pub is the hof (호프 hopeu), which serve pints of beer in the KRW2,000-5,000 range, although imported beers can be much more expensive. Note that you are expected to order food as well, and may even get served grilled squid or similar Korean pub grub without ordering, for a charge of KRW10,000 or so.

Tea and coffee[edit]

Like their neighbors, Koreans drink a lot of tea (차 cha), most of it green (녹차 nokcha). However, the label cha is applied to a number of other tealike drinks as well:

  • boricha (보리차), roasted barley tea, often served cold in summer, water substitute for many household
  • insamcha (인삼차), ginseng tea
  • oksusucha (옥수수차), roasted corn tea
  • yulmucha (율무차), a thick white drink made from a barley-like plant called Job's tears

Coffee (커피 keopi) is also widely available, especially from streetside vending machines that will pour you a cupful for as little as KRW300, usually sweet and milky, but there is often a "black" option. Canned coffee, while not as common as in Japan, is also widely available (and consistent).

Those looking for high quality coffee can always default to Starbucks which is ubiquitous in Seoul and common throughout the country, and there are a number of similar chains. Those looking for independent shops can also find them, but it can be difficult without local assistance.

Other drinks[edit]

Some other traditional drinks worth keeping an eye out for:

  • sikhye (식혜), a very sweet, grainy rice drink served cold
  • sujeonggwa (수정과), a sweet, cinnamon-y drink made from persimmons served cold

Smoking[edit]

Whilst not as popular as in Japan or China, many Korean men and an increasing number of Korean women smoke, and it's fairly cheap compared to much of Europe and America. A 20-pack costs around ₩4,500 (domestic cigarettes) or ₩4,700 (foreign cigarettes), and cigarettes can be bought from all convenience stores. Koreans favour mild cigarettes (around 6mg tar) so Korean-made cigarettes may taste bland and flavourless compared to those from America or Europe, and even the Korean-produced Western cigarettes are much lighter than the originals (e.g. Full-strength Marlboro Reds in Korea have only 8mg tar, the same as Marlboro Lights in the US). If you prefer stronger cigarettes it's wise to bring some duty-free cigarettes with you. However, there are a few vendors in Itaewon and Gunsan that do sell American cigarettes, although you will probably need to look around a bit to get the brand you like. Fortunately, the ubiquitous American military personnel in both cities can usually point you in the right direction.

Smoking is forbidden in most public buildings, public transport and restaurants, although it's permitted in most bars. araoke parlours, DVD-bangs, hotels etc give you a choice of smoking or no-smoking rooms. Effective since July 2013, most Internet cafes (except with completely sealed smoking room) are non-smoking areas legally.

Also, make sure you familiarize yourself with the local ordinances on smoking. Smoking in public is prohibited in certain places of Korea, and although police will generally let foreigners off with a warning, you still run the risk of getting fined.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

There's plenty of accommodation in all price brackets in South Korea. Note that prices in Seoul are typically about twice that of anywhere else in the country. For making a hotel, motel, hostel or guest-house reservation simply consult the place's or your favourite website.

Some higher-end hotels offer a choice of both Western-style and Korean-style rooms. The main feature of Korean rooms is an elaborate Korean-invented floor-heating system known as ondol (온돌), where hot steam (or, these days, water or electricity) heats stone slabs under a layer of clay and oiled paper. There are no beds; instead, mattresses are laid directly on the floor. Other furniture is typically limited to some low tables (you're also expected to sit on the floor) and maybe a TV.

Motels[edit]

Some of the cheapest accommodation in South Korea are in what are locally termed motels (모텔 motel) or yeogwan (여관), but these are rather different from motels in the West and closer to Japan's "love hotels". Motels in South Korea are generally very cheap hotels targeted at young couples aiming to spend 'time' together away from their elders, complete with plastic beds, occasionally vibrating, with strategically placed mirrors on the ceiling, with a TV and sometimes a computer. However for the budget traveller, they can simply be inexpensive lodging, with rates as low as KRW30,000/night.

The easiest way to find a motel is to just look for the symbol "♨" and gaudy architecture, particularly near stations or highway exits. They're harder to find online, as they rarely if ever show up in English-language booking sites, but Hotel365 [12] (Korean only) has comprehensive listings for the entire country. Pretty much every train station or bus terminal in the country has a selection of motels within a 5 minute walk.

When you walk in there will be a frosted window with someone behind it. If it's late at night they might be sleeping, but you can wake them up. You pay for your room in advance (KRW30,000-50,000, cash only) when you enter, and will be given a room key and a kind of 'welcome pack', consisting of a toothbrush, other toiletries and condoms. When you leave, just leave the key at the window. There are no receipts or records of names, the system is designed to be discreet and anonymous.

Hotels[edit]

Full-service hotels can be found in all larger towns in Korea. Cheaper hotels blend into motels with rooms from ₩40,000, while three and four star hotels are closer to ₩100,000-200,000 and five-star luxury hotels can easily top ₩300,000. Outside peak season you can often get steep discounts from the rack rates, so be sure to ask when reserving.

Hostels/Guesthouses[edit]

While not as common in South Korea as in other parts of Asia or the world, hostels and guesthouses can be found. Major cities, such as Seoul, will have a few dozen, while smaller cities may have a handful. Prices can vary widely, even within one hostel. In Seoul, mixed dorms average ₩15,000 to ₩25,000 per person; private rooms with a shared toilet and shower average ₩20,000 to ₩30,000 per person; and private ensuite rooms average ₩25,000 to ₩40,000 per person. Many hostels will have a common room with free TV, games, computers, and internet; some will have a public full kitchen and other amenities.

Minbak[edit]

In rural areas in and near national parks, you can find a minbak (민박). Most of these are just a room or two in someone's home - others are quite fancy and may be similar to yeogwans (motels) or hotels. Generally, they have ondol rooms with maybe a TV and that's about it. You don't usually get your own bathroom in your room, although some of the fancier ones do have an en suite. Minbaks usually run around KRW20,000 off-season though the price may go up quite a bit during high season.

Homestay[edit]

Very similar in concept to a Minbak, these aren't limited to just rural areas or near national parks. Since the World Cup in 2002, many families around the country have opened their doors and hearts to foreigners looking for a good place to sleep and a breakfast included in the price. These can run between KRW30,000 and KRW35,000 per night. Try eg. Homestaykorea [13] or LABO [14].

Jjimjilbang[edit]

For the budget traveller public bath houses known as Jjimjilbang (찜질방) offer a great and very relaxing way to sleep, bathe and take a sauna. The entrance is ₩5,000-15,000 and includes a short pajamas or robe to wear. The facilities can be expansive, including showers, public baths, restaurants, computer/video game rooms, a room with DVD movies, and a warm hall to sleep, mostly with mattresses and soft head rests available. These places are generally for families or couples coming in for the day, but traveller are still very welcome. They are also used by Korean men from the country side working in the city for resting over night. There is no secure place to leave your things except for the mostly two lockers, one for the shoes (at the entrance) and one for your cloths (near the mirrors and bath entrance). Sleeping hall and mixed facilities are entered with pajama, the baths are garment-free. A Jjimjilbang is no more awkward than any western public bath - so go ahead. Ask whether overnight stay is possible if needed, because some Korean Spas don't offer this option, e.g. like the "Spa Land Centum City" in Busan, which however is no Jjimjilbang. When you leave you have to take everything with you, and pay to get back in.

Temples[edit]

Jogye (조계사), Korea's largest Buddhist sect, runs a popular Temple Stay program where visitors get to spend 24 hours living at a Buddhist temple. Korean ability helps but is not necessary at some temples, but you will be expected to work at the temple and get up at 3 or 4AM to participate in morning prayer. In exchange for three meals and a basic bed for the night, a "donation" of KRW50,000-80,000 is expected. Reservations are necessary and can be made at the Temple Stay site [15] or via Korea Travel Phone, tel. +82-2-1330

Learn[edit]

Education is taken very seriously in South Korea, and the country is home to several world class universities, many of which have exchange agreements with various foreign universities, and are a good way for foreigners to experience life in the country. The most prestigious comprehensive universities are Seoul National University, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Yonsei University, Korea University, and Pohang University of Science and Technology(POSTECH).

Others[edit]

  • Taekwondo — If you're interested in martial arts, you should learn Taekwondo. Taekwondo is originally from Korea, and you can study at any of the numerous schools all over the country. Taekwondo is a very courteous sport.
  • Chang or Pansori — If you like music, this will be good for you. It's a unique traditional Korean form of singing. If you want to learn about Pansori through film, "Seo Pyen Je" would be an excellent choice.
  • Korean — Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University (in Seoul) provide Korean language programs. You can meet people from all over the world while studying Korean.
  • Korean Traditional Dance — You can go to a dance studio and learn Korean traditional dance. You will wear "Han Bok" - Korean traditional clothes.
  • Baduk — Korean name for the ancient board game called Go in English. Many Koreans play the game, and among them are some of the world's finest players. There are even schools that specialize in Baduk.
  • Janggi — Also known as Korean chess, a board game similar to Chinese chess, with which it shares its origins, though the rules have diverged significantly from Chinese chess.
  • Learn how to make Kimchi — Many tourist packages nowadays include learning how to make a Korean staple dish, Kimchi.

Work[edit]

Work as an English teacher is available through various companies, with the desired minimum level of education being a Bachelor's degree. Schools prefer native English speakers, and many prefer North American accents. In most instances, native English speakers from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, and the UK are the only applicants that can be considered because the South Korean government usually (information has been inconsistent) just accepts those from the aforementioned pre-approved English-speaking countries.

Native speakers of English who have four-year university degrees may find it easy to obtain employment in one of Korea's many private academies (hagwon). These schools have proliferated in response to perceived failings of the public education system, although there are also hagwons aimed at adult instruction. Often, people interested in these teaching positions find them via professional recruiters. There are pros and cons to teaching ESL in the hagwon system. On the plus side, the money can be quite good. As of late 2005, the average monthly salary is approximately 2 million KRW, and housing is usually provided. It's possible to live comfortably on half of one's salary, and to save the rest. However, it is important to evaluate each prospective employer before accepting an offer; tales of unscrupulous academy owners and incompetent directors abound.

University employment is also possible. Those who have a graduate-level degree, preferably in TESOL (Teaching English as a Second or Other Language) may find professional opportunities at the postsecondary level preferable to teaching in private academies.

Caution: Discrimination based on race is legal in Korea, and there are few protections against any types of discrimination. Korean employers tend to be more discriminatory towards people with darker skin, and especially people of African and south Asian ancestry. Korean job applications usually require you to attach a photo of yourself, along with other information usually considered private in the Western world, such as height, weight and marital status; if you are a person of color, your application will be more likely to be denied. Please be advised when looking for jobs. However, the public schools typically are more colorblind in regards to accepting applicants compared to hagwons.

Year-long public school positions are avaialble though the government-funded EPIK Program [16] in most provinces (now including Seoul as a subsidiary) and the rapidly contracting GEPIK Program in Gyeonggi, with a small number also handled by recruiter companies. Alternately, the TALK Program runs 6-month and 1-year rural public school positions for those who have completed a 2-year university degree or have completed 2 years of study for a 3-4 year degree.

Stay safe[edit]

Crime[edit]

South Korea is a very safe country, with reported crime rates much lower than in Western countries, and it is mostly limited to nuisance crimes and harrassment which are often associated with alcohol. The threat of violent crimes is relatively low. It is safe to walk around at night even in the major cities, but one should, nonetheless, be wary. There are documented cases of foreign women being stalked, followed and raped. While it is not a common occurrence, it is not unheard of either. Please exercise caution. The police in Korea usually have a laid back approach to fixing problems related to crime. If you are a victim of a crime you may have trouble obtaining justice. Complaints by foreigners are not taken seriously as complaints by Koreans.

Local South Korean organized crime groups, collectively known as the Kkangpae, which have been featured in countless Korean as well as Western movies. They operate in all major cities in South Korea, but pose little risk to tourists or the general population. They tend to be easy to spot, so simply use a little extra caution in such situations. In general, if don't provoke or harass them and they won't bother you.

Racism[edit]

Racism is rampant in Korea and will be on every corner. Whether it is using racial slurs, or not allowing you to enter an establishment racism is a major problem in the republic of Korea. In a survey that was given to Korean citizens a majority stated they would not want to live next to a foreigner. Koreans are known to address foreigners as "Waygookin" (외국인) Which means foreigner in Korean. Koreans are known to call people foreigners in Korean rather than in English. Korea is one of the world's most homogeneous countries and for many Koreans, this is a point of pride. As a result, children of mixed ethnicity are sometimes subject to discrimination and bullying in local schools. If you can afford it, sending your child to an international school will reduce the risk of bullying. This too, however, has become a social issue and today there is far less discrimination and bullying.

While the average visitor to Korea is extremely unlikely to encounter any problems at all, the odds of trouble slightly go up if you are dark-skinned or taken as an American near military bases (a major bone of contention given the poor behavior of some American soldiers). Harassment is usually only verbal and can be ignored, but there are rare cases of violence, usually fueled by alcohol. Nevertheless, verbal harassment or violence almost never happens. The worst that will happen to you if you are dark-skinned is some staring.

Non-Korean Asians can also be subject to particular types of discrimination and/or harassment. This is rare in areas where tourists are common, but in particular hostility toward Japan is very common and, while less commonly voiced, so is hostility toward China.

Traffic[edit]

Korean motorists will sometimes speed through pedestrian crossings, jump red lights and come within a hair-width distance to pedestrians and other cars alike. Even when the light turns, drivers will not stop. So, beware. Motorcyclists are particularly reckless weaving in and out on crowded sidewalks. It is up to you to avoid them.

Pedestrian crosswalks stay green for a very short period of time. When the walk signal is yellow and you are still at the curb do not cross. Instead, you should wait and be ready for the light to turn green. The moment it turns green, wait for about 3 to 5 seconds and see if other pedestrians start to cross, and if all the traffic has indeed stopped, then walk briskly to cross safely. It is safer to take underground passageways at busy intersections.

Don't expect the cars to stop for you at the zebra crossings and it is important for you to stay alert while crossing the roads.

Civil Unrest[edit]

In the heart of the political centre of Seoul, near Gwanghamun, Yeouido (National Assembly) and City Hall, you may witness political activists of one sort or another in the city center. Rarely, demonstrations may get heated when crowds grow to tens of thousands. You'll have to use discretion as violence during political demonstrations is rare, but large crowds may pose safety issues.

Local Laws[edit]

Ignorance of the law here is no excuse for breaking them and can even be seen as a reason for harsher punishment. Penalties concerning drug offenses may seem particularly harsh to westerners. They include heavy fines, lengthy jail sentences and immediate deportation. Submitting fraudulent documentation for obtaining visas can result in the same and detainment as well. Even giving somebody an English lesson can get you deported (you have to get a special visa to be allowed to teach English, and then only at your place of employment).

Natural Hazards[edit]

The principle disaster risks are earthquakes and typhoons (huricanes). While, South Korea experiences fewer natural disasters than its neighbours, you should note that it's much smaller size makes that a little misleading, and the geology and geography give it a similar risk profile to its neighbours. That said, both earthquake and typhoon risk is not as high as Japan's eastern coast. There is, on average, about one typhoon hitting, are affecting, Korea each year, and these are occasionally severe and can be deadly and cause major property damage. You should also note that Typhoons are seasonal, so the risk is largely limited to the summer months. Minor earthquakes are somewhat common and are most common in the southwest of the country, and larger earthquakes are possible. Those visiting coastal areas should also be aware of tsunami risk. Most beach areas (where the risk is greatest) have tsunami warning systems, so if the alarm is raised, seek higher ground immediately.

Conflict with North Korea[edit]

Though an armistice was established between the two Koreas in the 1950's, the two countries are still, officially, at war. Recent events have made the tension between the two countries very high. A re-ignition of the war between the North and South is potentially calamitous and would result in many casualties, military and civilian alike. Be aware of current events in the region before travelling.

Emergency Numbers[edit]

  • Police: 112 from a phone and region code-112 from a cellular phone
  • Fire and ambulance services: 119 and region code-119 from a cellular.

Emergency-service English interpreters are available 24 hours a day.

Stay healthy[edit]

The quality of healthcare will vary depending on where you are and it is generally very high. The sheer number of hospitals and specialized clinics in the country will also offer you plenty of choice. Treatment is high-quality; Korean healthcare is known worldwide for its excellence in both research and clinical medicine.

  • Most Korean doctors can communicate in English, being the most highly educated in the country.
  • Although health care in South Korea is not free, it is heavily subsidized by the government and is very cheap more so in the clinics compared to the United States. For expatriate workers who have a medical insurance card (this is required), it is even less expensive (although it is still not free).
  • In addition to Western medicine, Oriental medicine is quite popular in Korea. Herbal supplements can be bought in most pharmacies as well as from shops which produce their own. The most popular herbal supplements (such as Ginseng) can even be bought in convenience stores in the form of energy drinks, tea, gum, and alcohol. This is not to be ignored, as Oriental medicine has deep roots and a university degree is a prerequisite to practice, (unlike psuedo-oriental-clinics in western countries where the owner may not have proper qualifications). Though such herbal medicines can be effective, they should not be taken instead of modern medicine.
  • Pharmacies are usually located near hospitals, as hospitals in Korea are not allowed to dispense take-home prescriptions (with the exception of Emergency Rooms). Prescriptions are dispensed in small paper packages.
  • Although there are no official vaccinations that are required or recommended for visitors, Hepatitis A attacks the liver and is transmitted through food and water. Once infected, time is the only cure. The Center for Disease Control [17] designates the prevalence of infection in Korea to be intermediate.
  • A good basic rule to follow when travelling is when it comes to food, do what the locals do especially when it comes to water. Most will have it filtered or boiled before drinking. Although tap water in Korea is perfectly safe to drink, you may want to follow the local habits, if only to get rid of the chlorine smell. However, as Kangwon-do is predominantly rural, it has the safest drinking water in the whole country. There are usually signs around water sources that imply that the water is safe to drink.

Respect[edit]

Koreans are reserved and well-mannered people.

Korea is a land of Confucian hierarchy and etiquette. As a visitor, you will not be expected to know every nuance, but making an effort will certainly be appreciated. Following these rules will impress the locals:

  • Koreans bow to each other to show their respect when they meet. They may also shake hands. However, with people you know well, quick nod of the head and a simple annyeong haseyo (안녕하세요), meaning "hello," should suffice. The direct translation is "do you have peace".
  • When meeting for the first time, older Koreans will tend to ask about your age, your parents' jobs, your job, and your education level. If you feel uncomfortable about the questions, just provide short answers and discreetly try to change the topic if possible.
  • When picking something up or taking something from somebody older, always use two hands. If you have to use one hand, you can simply support your right arm with your left hand. Likewise, when shaking hands with somebody older support your right arm with your left hand.
  • It is customary to take off your shoes in houses and in many traditional restaurants.
  • Some Koreans may have nationalistic views and would view any criticism of their country with varying degrees of hostility. To avoid getting into the bad books of your hosts, it is advisable to praise the country or, at least, to avoid bringing up anything negative about it.
  • Avoid bringing up the Japanese occupation, Dokdo, the Korean war of the early 1950s and US foreign policy, or engage in other political discussions (unless mentioned to you) as these delicate topics are likely to get you on someone's bad side and can lead to intense debates, use of negative epithets, or even violence.
  • Do not attempt to compliment North Korea in any way. With that in mind, while South Koreans oppose the North Korean government, this does not similarly apply for ordinary North Koreans, who many, especially among the older generation, regard as their oppressed brothers and countrymen. Jokes at their expense will not be appreciated.
  • South Korean households may have strict rules about recycling, for example one bin may be for paper only, as to another in the kitchen for food/drink containers.
  • Do not pour your own drink, but do pour for others. When dining with Koreans, the oldest always eats first. It is common to hear people talking loudly in restaurants, as a sign of being happy and enjoying the food. Also, slurping noodles is actually expected, as it shows that you enjoy the food and you are appreciating the cooking well.
  • Tipping is not part of the culture here, and attempting to do so will only elicit confusion from your intended recipient.

The further you are away from metropolitan areas the more conservative the people are.

Religion[edit]

Reverse swastikas are commonly seen in Buddhist temples. They are a religious symbol and do not represent Nazism or anti-Semitism, so visitors should not feel offended when encountering them. Remember that swastikas are left handed and right handed and that most religious swastikas are the opposite face to those used by the nazi party.

Homosexuality[edit]

Homosexuality is a mixed bag in South Korea. There are no laws against homosexuality in South Korea, and same-sex relationships are neither recognized nor ruled against by the government. Gay clubs and bars exist in the larger cities, though openly displaying your sexual orientation in public is still likely to be met with disapproval. Conversely platonic displays of physical affection between same-sex friends are very common, particularly when alcohol has been consumed, and holding hands with a same-sex romantic partner may be viewed in this light.

Note that it is common to see pairs of same-sex people publicly walking arm-in-arm. Usually, if not nearly always, this is an expression of platonic friendship.

Contact[edit]

By phone[edit]

International dialling prefixes in South Korea vary by operator, and there is no standard prefix. Check with your operator for the respective prefixes. For calls to South Korea, the country code is 82.

Mobile phone coverage is generally excellent, with the exception of some remote mountainous areas. The country has three service providers: KT [18], SK Telecom [19] and LG Telecom [20]. They offer prepaid mobile phone services (pre-paid service, PPS) in South Korea. Incoming calls are free. Phones and prepaid services can be acquired at any retail location found on any street. Second-hand phones are also available at selected stores in Seoul, also you can rent korean phones at the international airports.

South Korea uses the CDMA/ WCDMA standard and does not have a GSM network, so most 2G mobile phones from elsewhere will not work. Even quad-band GSM phones are useless. However, if you have a 3G phone with a 3G SIM card, you can probably roam onto the UMTS/W-CDMA networks of KT or SK Telecom; check with your home operator before you leave to be sure. 4G has recently been made available in Korea; again, check with your provider.

If you have a phone that supports the 2100Mhz WCDMA frequency, you should be able to buy a prepaid SIM for it using olleh. All newer unlocked GSM iPhones (iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, GSM iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPhone 5) will work. The Verizon iPhone 4 and the original 1st generation iPhone won't work. However, all iPhone 5's regardless of model (both GSM or CDMA) will work if unlocked, and as it's a world phone, any unlocked iPhone 4S will work. Check [[21]] for more details. You must have been in Korea for more than 3 days to buy a SIM card.

All the carriers offer mobile phone rental services, and some handsets also support GSM SIM roaming. They have outlets at the international airports in Incheon, Seoul (Kimpo) and Busan (Kimhae). You can find service centers for KT SHOW and SK Telecom at Jeju airport as well. Charges start from KRW2,000/day if you reserve in advance via the visitkorea website [22] for a discount and guaranteed availability. Also avalible for rent are the 4G WiBro eggs. However 4G WiBro coverage is weak, and almost non existent outside of the bigger cities and motorways.

The 1330 Korea Travel Phone service is a very useful service provided by the Korea Tourism organization. It is a 24 hour service and offered in four different languages (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese). The operator will answer questions on bus schedules, accommodation, museum hours, etc.

Internet[edit]

South Korea is the world's most wired country and Internet cafes, known as PC bang (PC 방, pronounced BAH-ng), are ubiquitous through the country. Many customers are there for gaming but you're free to sit and type e-mails as well, typical charges are about ₩1,000 to ₩2,000/hour. Like anything, it may be more expensive in more "luxurious" places. Also, snacks and drinks are available for purchase in most PC bangs. PC bangs are often divided into smoking and non-smoking areas.

Due to the sensitive situation with North Korea, certain websites or links such as North Korea's twitter account are blocked. Websites and links that contain any form of indecency; un-rated games, illegal pornography, or internet gambling will be redirected to a warning page. Tor is available in South Korea.

  • Internet Privacy
Any connection made with North Korea will be monitored in case of espionage. Praising North Korea, Communism, or doing any espionage with those in North Korea will get you arrested. Posting any anti-government comment(s) will automatically be deleted.
  • Internet Curfew

In order to combat internet gaming addiction, the South Korean government has enacted a curfew law that forbids anyone under the age of 16 to play online from 00:00 to 06.00. However this only affects computers, and public Wi-Fi areas. Consoles and mobile phones remain unaffected.

By mail[edit]

Korea Post [23] is fast, reliable and reasonably priced. Postage for a postcard anywhere in the world is ₩660, while letters and packages start from ₩480. If you want actual traditional stamps, be sure to ask for them, or else you will just get a printed label. On request, fancy "tourist" cancellations (Gwangwang Tongsin Ilbuin) for your stamps are available at selected post offices without additional charge. Korea Post accepts Visa and MasterCard for purchases over ₩1,000.

Most post offices are open weekdays only 09:00-18:00. Larger post offices also open Saturday mornings, and central offices in the main cities stay open late and are open on Sundays as well.

Media[edit]

Korea has several English language media sources for daily news and other information.

News Service

  • Yonhap News Agency [24]

Daily Newspapers

  • Hankyoreh [25]
  • The Korea Times [26]
  • The Korea Herald [27]
  • The Chosun Ilbo [28]

TV

  • Arirang TV [29] available via cable
  • AFN Korea [30] available to US military community or via cable

Radio

  • TBS e-FM 101.3 FM
  • AFN channel 1530 AM and 102.7 FM in Seoul; in other areas, frequencies may be different.
  • Arirang Radio available Korea DMB Service; your car or mobile'




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