SOUTH KOREA

  • Seoul
  • With a history of over 5000 years, Korea is located in the north east portion of Asia. Although positioned between China and Japan, Korea has developed and maintained its own language and culture through the centuries. Once referred to as the “Hermit Kingdom” what is now South Korea has experienced a period of globalization and remarkable economic development over the last 50 years. Major modern cities with matching infrastructure and amenities mixed with historical and cultural centres are found throughout the country of South Korea. Most important is the sincere friendliness and pride of the Korean people themselves.
  • Population: 50.24 million with the population in the immediate area of the capital city Seoul being 12 million (population of non-Koreans is 1 million; 2% of the population)
  • Languages : Korean. In most large cities, a growing number of Koreans speak English to a reasonable degree of fluency, as well as other Asian and European languages.
  • Time zone: Standard Time +0900 UTC
  • Electricity : 220v; 50-60Hz with a reliable power supply. (Some properties have both 220v & 110v supply either throughout the entire property or in select locations such as kitchens and living room.)
  • Housing: There are a number of locations throughout Seoul in which expats choose to live based on their work location, access to schools, prevalent property types, etc. There is nothing preventing an expat from living in any part of the city. The most predominant type of housing in the areas preferred by expats is the “villa” type which is similar to a condominium-style property, followed by luxury high-rise units and finally free-standing homes.
    For those properties of a type and located in areas preferred by expats the standard lease term is 24 months with a 12 month early termination (diplomatic) clause. The rent for the entire term of the lease based on a monthly rate is paid in advance. Shorter lease terms and alternative payment schedules are possible but this may reduce the number and type of properties available in a specific location.
  • Temporary accommodation: Most expats choose to reside in serviced residences for purposes of temporary housing (2-4 weeks) until such time as shipments can be delivered and/or properties prepared for their occupancy.
  • Schools: Seoul has a number of international schools providing classes in English and based on both the American and British national curriculums. Both IB and AP courses are available depending upon the school. There are schools dedicated to providing classes in German, French, Chinese and Japanese. (It is important to note that there is limited space in the preferred schools so parents are strongly urged to confirm space availability and begin the application process as early as possible.)
  • Transportation: Most major cities have an extensive public transportation system of buses and subways as well as access to taxis. However, many expats choose to drive in Korea and most are not provided drivers. Vehicles drive on the right side of the road and the driver on the left side of the vehicle. In order to legally drive in Korea a person must have a current international driver’s license or a Korean license. (It is possible to apply for a Korean license once the Alien Residence Card is obtained.)
  • Healthcare: South Korea has excellent medical and dental care with modern major hospitals and clinics as well as a number of international clinics co-located in major hospitals. Many expats choose to visit the international clinics primarily due to the English fluency of the doctors and the ability to schedule appointments although there is no distinctive difference in the medical care. Foreign insurance, however, is not recognized in Korea.
  • Climate: Korea has four distinct seasons. Spring and fall are the most mild with temperatures ranging from 12-18°Celsius; winter are cold and dry with average temperatures ranging between -5° and 5°Celsius and summers are hot and humid with 25-32°Celsius temperatures. There is a two week rainy season in July-August.
  • Government: South Korea is a republic with an elected representative national assembly and president as well as locally elected area and city officials.
  • Work permits and visas: The most common work visas in South Korea are the D-7 (employee of a Korean firm) and the D-8 (employee of a foreign invested company). D-7 visas typically require more time with an application and issuance period of 3-4 weeks, whereas the D-8 can be applied for and received within country and has a processing and issuance time of approximately 2 weeks. The F-3 (dependent) visa is also issued in approximately 2 weeks.
  • Banking and currency: The local currency is Korean Won and is not yet traded on the international currency exchange. Most expats choose to open local bank accounts to facilitate payment of local bills such as utility and management fees costs associated with their home as well as other services. Foreign currency accounts are also possible via local banks as well as internet and international banking is easily accessible. Local credit cards can also be obtained if needed although most businesses honour foreign credit cards. In order to open a local account an expat must first obtain their Alien Residence Card (ARC) in most cases, although some bank branches do cater to the foreign community and allow expats to open accounts with limited access without the ARC.
  • How do I set up my bank account?

    In order to set up your bank account, you will need a passport with current visa and Alien Residence Card. There is no minimum deposit required for opening the account. There are no joint accounts, although you may secure more than one card per account for a couple.

  • Is it safe to drink the water?

    Tap water is safe for drinking, but many people prefer the taste of bottled water.

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