Things To Know When Settling In Korea

We’re happy that you have taken the decision to come back to Korea. It’s a huge step for any adoptee to try and reconnect with their motherland. There are a lot of things to consider before taking the final leap. A lot of it can seem a bit overwhelming and scary even. We have listed the most important things to know about before moving to Korea.

How To Find A Place To Live

Finding a place to live in Korea is not very difficult but there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Rental contracts usually start from 1 year but don’t be surprised to see 2-year contracts. Another huge thing to be aware of is the key deposit. In Korea, the key deposit might be higher than what you are used to. Typically, key deposit starts from 5,000,000won depending on size and area. Keep in mind that the higher key deposit you pay the lower the rent. You can choose to pay monthly with a key deposit, this is called wolse (월세), this should be familiar to you since it’s very similar to how things work back home. The other option is to pay everything in advance, a so-called jeonse (전세). This is a lot of money to come up with and typically Koreans take out a bank loan for this. On the upside, there’s no monthly rent and you will get this money back when you move out.

The easiest way to find an apartment is to go to a realtor (부동산). There are plenty of realtors in every neighborhood so choose the area or areas you want to live in and have a realtor in that area show you around. Bear in mind that the realtors often do not speak any English so you probably going to need someone who can speak Korean to come with you. Contact us if you need interpretation services.

There are also a few free apps like dabang (다방) and jikbang (직방), these apps allow you to check apartments and prices in a specific area without having to visit them. However, you can’t rent directly through the app, instead, you have to contact the realtor listed in charge of the apartment.

The most common form of apartments are wonrooms (원롬) this is a Korean-style studio apartment, they are usually furnished with a bed and a fridge/freezer but double-check what utilities are included before choosing.

If you have any questions or need help finding a place to stay or if you are planning to move to Korea and don’t know where to start don’t hesitate to contact us.

Work in Korea

Finding a job in Korea can be a very difficult task if you don’t speak much Korean (check out our Korean language program to boost your skills) but, it’s not impossible especially if you can teach a foreign language. Teaching a language is the most common job for foreigners living in Korea, especially if you are a native English speaker. However, it is possible to find a job teaching English even if your first language is not English. Other common types of jobs are various restaurant jobs such as chef, server, barista, or dishwasher. To get these jobs your Korean language skills are not as important as other types of jobs.

There are a lot of international companies in Korea that are looking to hire foreigners, especially if you can speak Korean fluently. It’s important to note that most office jobs require fluency in Korean and if Korean is not your first language you might have to prove that you can speak Korean by either providing a Korean language school certificate or a TOPIK score.

The last type of job we will cover here is blue-collar jobs such as factory work, cleaning, and farm work. These kinds of jobs are not as dependent on your Korean language skills as the previous jobs covered here. Most of these companies have experience working with foreigners and this might be the easiest way to get a job if you don’t want to teach.

As an adoptee, you can and should apply for an F4 visa which will give you almost the same rights as Korean citizens, but, make sure you are eligible for the type of work before applying.

If you need help, make sure to reach out to us also, keep an eye on our event page for our jobs program where we help adoptees with job preparing courses such as barista or chef courses.

Social etiquette

There are many aspects of Korean culture that can be new and confusing for someone who is trying to settle in Korea for the first time. We are going to cover a few of the most important things to know to make your social interactions and life, in general, a bit easier.

One of the most important things to remember is that all social interactions are based on position and seniority. That means the most senior Korean decides on what to do and everybody else follows. For example, at dinners, the most senior Korean gets seated first, served first, and starts eating first. A rule of thumb if you’re not sure what to do is to wait and see what your friends are doing and follow their lead.

Another rule to remember is to pour drinks for each other, in Korea it’s rude to pour to yourself, always pour to other people and let other people pour to you.

The final rule you need to remember is that Koreans don’t address each other by their given names unless permission has been given. If you are close friends or family members you can address them with their given names otherwise use titles.

In general, you need to remember that being modest and not too loud in public settings will prevent you from making any mistakes and upset people.

Korean Food

The food in Korea can be very spicy since they like to use hot peppers and hot pepper paste in their food. A usual Korean meal consists of a bowl of rice, which is the staple food in Korea, together with a main dish such as a stew or a soup and a lot of side dishes usually kimchi.

Korean food is very region-based which means some regions are famous for chicken but other regions are more famous for seafood. Kimchi is served with every meal and there are many different kinds of kimchi such as cabbage kimchi, radish kimchi, cucumber kimchi, and spring onion kimchi. Kimchi is one of the most famous foods in Korea and is very healthy since it contains a lot of vitamins and minerals.

The most famous dishes are bibimbap (mixed vegetables), budae jjigae (spicy stew), kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew), and samgyeopsal (grilled pork).

At dinner time, it’s common for people to eat out with friends or coworkers and one of the most popular dishes is samgyeopsal together with beer or soju. Soju is the most popular alcoholic beverage in Korea. There are many different kinds of soju but the most popular ones are Chamisul (참이슬) and Cheoeum-Cheoreom (처음처럼).

If you are interested in more Korean culture such as food, music, dance and festivals make sure to check out our various culture tours and especially our Let’s Go to Korea cultural tour.

There are many more things to think about but these are the most important ones to consider when moving to Korea. Living in Korea as an adoptee can be an amazing experience but there will be times when you are going to feel confused and frustrated. These feelings are completely normal and most adoptees have experienced the same feelings. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or need any help.