My Korean Life as a Foreigner! What you need to know!

My Korean Life as a Foreigner! What you need to know!

KOREAN LIFE AS A FOREIGNER

Living your home country to chase your dreams on a different place with a whole new culture, customs and food, and waking up everyday far from your loved ones can be hard and difficult for anyone, but once you get out of your comfort zone, your perspective of seeing life changes completely, letting you realize that your dream is on the work and will become a reality.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

I want to share with all you Seoulmates my experience living abroad, precisely in Seoul, South Korea. The first few months are not easy, and more than one time I though about taking the easiest path for my life and return home, thankfully after opening my self and talking with friends back home, they made me realize how going to a whole new country was part of my dream and how this experience will make me grow and create my future.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Letting yourself exposed to new things is awesome! Being on a new country lets you get involved in a new culture, amazing new foods like tteokbokki, Korean fried chicken, kimchi, jajangmyeon and so many others you should at least try once in your lifetime if you decide to visit this lovely country someday. Some things that help me adapt in an “easier” way was to search for expats groups on FB, and it really helps, doing so made me meet amazing people and bond with them creating a new friendship.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

People that have been living in the country is always open to help new expats, they give you tips on how to move around the city, on which supermarkets buy your food at a more reasonable price or simple a nice recommendation of bar and restaurants.

But about housing?

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

It is not always fun to talk about money, but sadly it is important if we want to have what it may be considered a “normal life” and living in Korea, more specifically in Seoul, accommodation can be the biggest cost you might have, living a city like this one or any other big city around the world. The key money deposit for an apartment can go really high depending on the zone you decide to live in. But don’t let this crush your encouragement, if you come to Korea a teacher (the way I came to this country, as an English teacher) you can avoid this cost, some school will actually pay or help you with an allowance for rent.

*Teacher jobs are only available for native English speakers with a teaching degree.

Living in Korea as a Foreigner

Basically you have several options to live in Korea if that is your dream or goal! As I mention before I came to the country as a language professor, which is one of the possible way to stay legally in the country, the others are:

Student

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Studying in Korea is one in a lifetime fantastic experience, one of the most well-liked places for overseas students to study in Asia is now Korea. It is appealing, fashionable, and offers something for a newbie to enjoy in and discover, the country is one of the most innovative nations with a highly Internet-connected citizenry, is the dominant force in the digital technology sector, aside from the pop culture effect.

One requirement for studying in the country, students need to have finished 12 years for schooling (Primary School, Middle School, and High School). As an international student you have the following possibilities: 1-2 study abroad semesters, Korean language programs, Degree programs.

Once you have chosen one option, here are the next steps:

  • Find a school in Korea
  • Apply at least 3 to 4 months before the start date of the course
  • Get a student insurance
  • Apply for a student visa (Schools helps with this process)
  • Book a student housing after receiving your visa

Marrying

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

This option is only available to those who have find their Oppa or Noona. When your soulmate has arrive to your life, love can't be stopped and you just want to be with this person forever!

Since you and your significant other will be getting married under Korean laws, a religious ceremony, while frequently could be more important, does not constitute a legal marriage in Korea because marriage is a civil act.

Requirements: 

  • Documents translated and notarized (at a consulate) from your native language to Korean
  • Evidence of identity and nationality (passport and birth certificate)
  • Affidavit of Eligibility for Marriage
  • Evidence of actual marital status
  • Evidence of consent (in case either of you is underage)

Migrant Worker

As migrant workers there are also possibilities to acquire the permanent residency in South Korea, some might not be applicable for everyone, it the depends on the situation the worker is.

  • A foreigner who has lived in South Korea for at least five years
  • Spouse and child of a Korean national or permanent resident who have lived in Korea for at least two years
  • A foreign investor who makes at least USD 500,000 in investments and hires at least five Korean citizens 
  • People who hold a PhD from abroad, majored in high technology, and are currently working for a Korean company 
  • People with expertise in particular fields, such as science, administration, education, culture, athletics, etc.
  • Those who have held an H-2 visa for at least four years and have worked in the manufacturing sector, for example
  • Those who have a point-based residency visa and have lived in Korea for three years or longer (F-2) or those who have had a visa for ethnic overseas Koreans for at least two years (F-4) 

Work

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Koreans put in absurdly long hours of work, worry about how others see them, are always learning new things or honing their old ones, it a very competitive country in which since early ages they are taught to always aim for the best university in the country, for an amazing job and will never stop to work for their goals, stress will always be present in their life. Thankfully for us, foreigners these standards will not apply, when you are done with work, without a problem you can leave on time and have more freedom to make lifestyle decisions without added stress.

Weather

Weather in Korea tends to be extreme, for example, the country experiences excruciatingly hot and muggy summers, that being outside is uncomfortable. by the other hand we have winter, which is bitterly cold and ice. So, if you prefer being outside, spring and fall are your favorite seasons because they are the only ones when you'll truly want to be in the great outdoors having a nice picnic with friends at a lovely park!

Beautiful Country

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Seoul is a lovely city to live in, I am sure there might be other nice cities around but from experience I can tell you that there are plenty of activities and places to do around with friends, from a lovely picnic near a river or in a beautiful park to night life, shopping, and gastronomy.

Making Korean friends, besides expat friends can be difficult due to cultural barriers they might exist between cultures, but once you find one you find they are really nice to be around them and not everyone looks foreigners in a bad way, yes, you will always be seen as a foreigner but it not something that can affect your life in Korea, or at least on my personal experience.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Hopefully my experience living in this beautiful country will increase your desire to live in Korean, accomplish your dreams and live an experience like no other. Feel free to leave in our comments any doubt you might have; I would love to talk with you Seoulmate!

Author: SUJI SOHN

About the author: Suji was studying in London in the year 2019 and, although being separated from her family, her passion for Korea was growing. She noticed that a lot of her close friends loved Korean culture, food, music, and dramas and gradually started to fall in love with Korea, but there weren't many opportunities to actually "experience" this wonderful nation!

Suji was aware of what she needed to do to introduce Korea to her friends' lives and, conceivably, to those of everyone else who was curious about a piece of Daehan Min-guk.

Back to blog