Facts about South Korea: First time at Seoul
January 1, 1970
by Balam Benitez
- Do the bow when saluting or thanking anyone, they will appreciate it
- When receiving things, as money, some products, cards, etc, you should receive them with both hands
- When giving money, cards, etc, you should give it either with both hands or your left hand holding your wrist
- When using public transportation, DON’T sit on the red seats, those are reserved for elderly
- People in public transportation don’t ask for a chance to pass through, they will push you, so don’t get mad if you get pushed, better watch out
- And this one is very important too: when entering a house, apartment or some buildings is a must to take off your shoes and go barefoot, so be sure to wear clean socks and put some talcum powder so you avoid smelling foot
What you should get almost immediately
If you are staying for more than a week, it is recommended to buy a sim card, maybe your home country chip is lack of signal here and you may struggle if you depend on the internet, but do not worry too much, Seoul has one of the biggest Wi-Fi networks and most of the public hotspots are free, but for the good ones you need a local sim card, so be sure to get one.
Also if you are planning to use public transportation you should buy a T-card, which is a prepaid card for using at the subway and bus networks, and remember about the red seats, just for elder, not you naughty boy jaja. If you are a huge fan of K-pop or another Korean cartoons characters, you will be interested in getting a T-card with your favorite character printed on it.
Subway and Bus are easy to use, everything is in Korean with its translation into English in small letters so you can understand where are you heading to, there are maps every station and if you ask for help, people will assist you, as I wrote before, they will do everything they can to make you feel comfortable . Something important when going on the subway if you are not used to how the dynamic is, pay attention to this:
- When going on electric stairs, the left side is for the people who are in a hurry or walk while the stairs move forward, if you are late to miss the next train you should walk in the left side, but if you are plenty of time just stay on the right side and don’t be an obstacle
- When waiting for the train and it arrives, you must first wait on the sides of the doors for people to go outside the wagon and then you can go in
Facts about Korea
Part of the culture shock is to adapt to the new environment, so you may be impressed by some things as I was when I first arrived, here are some of those things:
Note (if you live in a small city in your home country you may struggle or love these things)
- Korean people are extremely warm and patient with foreigners, the will help you whenever you need it
- I was not able to see small buildings along the way from Incheon Airport to my apartment in Seoul, so the city is full of big buildings
- All buildings and bedrooms either have a code lock at the entrance or a card detector so you can access the building and/or the dorm.
- Wi-Fi is everywhere and there are too many hotspots which are free, but it is better if you have a local sim card
- Starbucks are all around the city, too many of them
- Pollution is an issue here, so be sure to wear a mask if necessary in the worst days, there are some phone apps that advice you about the pollution status
- Kakao Talk is the Korean Whatsapp/ messenger, so if you want to make friends, be sure to download it and create an account
And the last and most important thing is to dare to do explore and get lost in the city, there are so many tours with special prices for tourists and foreigners so be sure to take advantage of them. Do not be afraid and free yourself, although Korea is very safe don’t be confident at all, and be safe through your stay.
If you want more tourist information you should check the official site