Moving to South Korea
This picturesque country of sweeping green hills and rugged mountains lies in East Asia. The past and future collide in South Korea with modern skyscrapers sitting next to old temples and palaces. Despite its ancient roots, South Korea is a forward-looking nation on the forefront of the technology industry and home to successful companies like Samsung and LG Electronics.
Culturally, the overwhelming majority of people living in the country share the same Korean ethnic background. Family plays a significant role in the South Korean lifestyle. Likewise, many traditional roles are still commonplace as is an emphasis on respecting elders.
From the bustling capital of Seoul to its nine provinces, there are plenty of popular cities to choose from when moving to South Korea. Low crime rates, excellent healthcare facilities and fantastic transport networks are just a few of the selling points South Korea has to offer.
Expats moving to South Korea may not find an abundance of readily available accommodation. With a population of approximately 50 million people, housing options are often limited, and due to the relatively high cost of living, they can also be expensive.
The most common types of accommodation are villas (five storeys high and containing up to 10 units) and high-rise apartments. When renting, the South Korean equivalent of a deposit is called ‘key money’. The greater the deposit provided, the cheaper the monthly rent will be. Real estate agent fees are regulated by the government.
With a highly educated and skilled work force, schooling in South Korea is excellent. There is a large focus in South Korean society on academia, particularly in maths and science, where the country outperforms those in the Western world.
Schooling takes place from the ages of four to eighteen with compulsory primary, middle and high school education. Private schools are common in South Korea, making up one-fifth of all schools. There is also a good range of international schools, including English, American and French.
Language can be a barrier to foreigners moving to South Korea. The official language is Korean, and although English is spoken in larger cities, it is not widely used.
Food tends to be spicy in South Korea. Most dishes will contain meat or seafood; vegetarians will need to make their preferences very clear.
Bowing as a mark of respect is common and can be used to say thank you, to acknowledge someone or something or to say hello.
Good to know
It is not possible to obtain an international driving licence upon arrival in South Korea. Therefore, foreigners must either bring one with them or take the Korean test in order to legally drive.
The weather in South Korea has four seasons, including long, cool and dry winters and short, warm and humid summers.
When accepting money, or anything seen as valuable, it is polite to use both hands to receive it.
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