5 Things to Know About Moving to Korea

I am writing this post because when one googles and wonders,

Oh! What should I bring to South Korea? Or,

My! Is there anything anyone should tell me about adapting?

There are the posts and articles out there listing the obvious

  • Bring towels and deodorant
  • You may miss cheese
  • The Korean alphabet is easy to learn
  • There’s this thing called “desk warming”
  • You are going to see a lot of kimchi
  • Be prepared to be flexible

Or more importantly,

  • The KFC here does not have mash potatoes, cole slaw, bowls – all of the things you love!

I miss you. Call me soon! –Anna Actually the last one on that list is just from me.

However, I am here to write about the not-so-obvious.


1. Buy some kind of tablet or Ebook reader BEFORE arriving

Depending on where you become stationed, finding books in English will be extremely difficult. (Surprise!) If you are an avid reader who prefers to read more than the latest big release (varieties which tend to be of a “Twilight” nature), then you will definitely want some kind of device.
Once in Korea, you can just order your e-books on-line. I have someone in the U.S. who can just e-mail me e-books for me to transfer to my tablet, so I never have to worry about #4.
You could wait until you arrive in Korea to buy your device, but here is a warning:
I bought my Samsung Galaxy II Tablet in the USA for ~260 USD.
When I first came to Korea with my tablet whipped out all of the time, everyone around me acted like I had some kind of hot shot commodity even though Samsung isn’t even “in” right now. (Apple is “in” in Korea right now, FYI.)
I found out from my [now former] co-teacher, my same device in Korea costed, da da daaaaa…..
~800 000 to 900 000 won. That’s a range of ~720 USD to 810 USD
Then it made sense to me why my [Korean] Samsung Galaxy II smartphone costed roughly 549 000 won. Sigh.
2. Services like Netflix and Pandora do not work (errr, are not supposed to work) outside of the United States
This has to do with a lot of legality issues – it is easier to enforce copyright laws within the main United States than worry about legality issues in other countries. When you attempt to access these sites, you will get a screen similar to these:

Click Image to Enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

However, there is a way around this. There are services that allow you to access these websites that work by “hiding” your IP address and making it look like you have an IP address from somewhere else. Like, say… the United States.
Some are free, like HotSpot Shield. However, as usual, “free” comes at the cost of sanity. I tried HotSpot Shield – it shows ads.
What’s the big deal, you say? A little bit of advertisement hurt no one, you say?
Well, it’s a huge deal, I say.
And a little bit of advertisement has hurt people, says some billboard graffiti artists.
The reason why I hated HotSpotShield was because the advertisements had sound. If you remember, this post was about finding out how enjoy Netflix and Pandora.
Anyway, I currently use and recommend HMA! Pro VPN. I pay $78.66 for a year’s subscription. I settled on this one after Jesse and I did tons of research as to the best VPN service for me. Here is what the “dashboard” for HMA! looks like:
If you are curious as to what other VPN services are out there (and what they have to offer), here is a useful website to help start your search:


3. Porn websites may not work (Censorship in South Korea)

This is actually a controversial issue. Nine people, who serve three year terms, are appointed by the Korean government to regulate Internet content. These members look through thousands of internet URLs a month. Website owners have no chance of appeal for a censorship decision. Some interesting notes about the censorship issue:
A.) One of the board’s own members, Professor K.S. Park found his own blog on the roster for sites to be considered for censorship. His blog dealt with educating internet users as to the types of websites that were being censored.
B.) Many people have found their sites and/or accounts blocked due to critical remarks of the government.
C.) A university English teacher was fired because he questioned South Korea’s claim of Dokdo on the Internet.
D.) The purpose of all of this is to help stop the spread of illegal North Korean propoganda. Because South Korea does not want to turn into North Korea in any way.
E.) I just now realized that asking Jesse to bring the latest Grand Theft Auto to me from the States is actually illegal. (See link in D.)
4. Your “home” credit/debit cards may not work depending on how touch-y your bank is on security
Sure, you can tell your bank/credit union that you will be moving overseas. However, if your bank/credit union is like mine, it flags anything that looks peculiar. In so, every purchase I will ever make will look peculiar with my card that is from the U.S. since I am rarely ever going to use it.
For example, even when I was in the U.S. my account was constantly flagged since my partner and I share the same account – I would buy women’s work clothing and then he would attempt to buy body building/protein supplements. You can see where this is going. Needless to say, on-line shopping was always hit or miss. 
5. A lot of of your worksheets and lesson plans will be in this mysterious *.hwp format
HWP = Hangul Word Processor. It is like Microsoft Word, but with *.hwp. Many expats see it as an unnecessary nuisance. You can download and use a Hangul [word processor] viewer (which is a pain). Or, you can be cool like me and either:
A.) Print out your needed *.hwp documents at your school’s computer. Or,
B.) Save the *.hwp documents on your school’s computer in a format that is readable in your word processor (e.g. *.pdf, *.doc) and then e-mail yourself the documents.
Keep in mind that you should test drive any school related files that you save, download, or transfer.
That concludes my list, for now. However, as soon as I find out for sure whether it is legal to bring Parmesan cheese in a suit case, a whole new flood gate of blog entries will open regarding, What Random Non-Perishable Items of Food You Should Put in Your Suitase.

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