- Published: October 14, 2022
- Updated: October 14, 2022
- Language: English
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As for foreign housing, rental payments are extremely high, one might even say, excessively high, for western-style amenities either in houses or apartments, especially given their quality and size. Foreign residents can expect to pay significantly more than a Korean would regardless of the type of housing. That said, an expat whose accommodations are not paid for by a corporation can find affordable and attractive, albeit usually small, accommodations in various areas of the city.
Education: In Korea, the literacy rate is 97. 9%. In the Korean culture, education is the key to success in life. The school one graduates from can determine whether one will be a success or failure. To many Korean parents, the education of their children outweighs all other considerations, and they will make tremendous sacrifices to let their children get the best education possible.
The Korean education system consists of six years of primary school, three years of middle school, then three years of high school. Those who pass the national exam go on to 4-year colleges or universities. Others go to 2-year junior colleges, while the rest enter the work force. Until recently, most middle and high schools were segregated by sex. However, because of complaints about differences in education levels between the boys and girls schools and socialization problems later in life, most schools have gone co-ed.
Weather: As all the tourist books will tell you, Korea has four distinct seasons. The summers are very hot and humid, and the winters are cold and dry. The springs and autumns, which finish much too quickly, provide a welcome relief from the extremes of summer and winter. Peak summer, from late June to late August, starts off with the monsoon season, when the country receives some 60% of its annual rainfall. It is followed by unpleasantly hot and humid weather. Although air-conditioning makes summers much more bearable these days, many locals flee the muggy cities for the mountains, beaches and islands, which become crowded, and accommodation prices double. There is also the chance of a typhoon or two. It also gets below freezing in December.
Safety: The South Korean authorities normally hold nationwide civil emergency exercises on the 15th day of the month, eight times a year (not January, February, July or December). Sirens are sounded, transport stopped and some people are asked to take shelter in metro stations or basements.
Although the crime rate in the Republic of Korea is low, there is a higher incidence of pick pocketing, purse snatching, assault, burglary (in hotel rooms and private residences), and other crime in major metropolitan areas, such as Seoul and Busan, than elsewhere in Korea. Exercise normal safety precautions and ensure valuables are secure especially in known tourist areas, such as Itaewon and other large market areas.
Entry Requirements: You must have a valid passport to enter the Republic of Korea. As long as you have a valid U. S. passport, you can enter the Republic of Korea without a visa for a stay of up to 90 days if you are a tourist or if you are in the Republic of Korea on business. If you are staying for more than 90 days, or for any reason other than tourism or a temporary non-profit business trip, you must have a visa before you enter. If you are visiting the Republic of Korea for employment, for any profit-making reason, to teach English, or for stays longer than 90 days, you must get a visa at an ROK embassy or consulate. Once you enter the Republic of Korea, if you are staying in the Republic of Korea for longer than 90 days, you must also apply for an Alien Registration Card.
U. S. citizens entering the Republic of Korea will have their two index fingerprints electronically scanned at the same time a digital photograph is taken of their face by a Korea Immigration Service inspector. This process will take place while the traveler’s passport is being inspected at an immigration booth. Children under the age of 17 and foreign government and international organization officials and their accompanying immediate family members are exempt from this requirement.
Insurance: You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before departure. Ensure that your insurance covers the costs of medical repatriation if you need complex hospital treatment. Check for any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Medical and dental care in South Korea is usually of a good standard but can be expensive; staff often do not speak English.
Money: The local currency in South Korea is called the Won. In some tourist areas, merchants may be willing to accept U. S. dollars or Japanese yen, but the exchange rate will be worse than the official rate. Most banks and hotels can exchange money, and most will also take travelers checks. Cash advances on non-Korean credit cards can be made in most subway stations and banks. Many international banks have offices in Seoul, and a few have branches in Pusan. Credit cards are not always accepted outside major cities. ATMs, whilst widely available do not always accept foreign cards. ATM’s with a sign saying ‘Global’ will normally accept foreign cards.
Local Travel: South Korea is fairly compact and you can get anywhere very fast if you fly, and reasonably fast even if you don’t. Subways are available in most of the cities including metropolitan Seoul. Larger cities currently have service or are developing subways.
-Seoul Station is a major railway station in Seoul, South Korea. The station is served by the Gyeongbu Line, its high-speed counterpart and the Gyeongui Line, with frequent high-speed, express, and local services to various points in South Korea. -The Seoul Metropolitan Subway or Metropolitan Subway in Seoul, in Seoul, South Korea, is one of the most heavily used rapid transit systems in the world, which services 7 million passengers by the metropolitan system alone and well over 8 million trips daily.
All directional signs in the Seoul Subway are written in both Korean and English. -Seoul has a unified public transportation system with Incheon and Gyeonggi, allowing passengers to transfer freely from either subway or bus using the T-money smart card(T-money is a rechargeable series of cards and other ” smart” devices used for paying transportation fares in and around Seoul and other areas of South Korea. T-money can also be used in lieu of cash or credit cards in some convenience stores and other businesses ) and is connected via AREX (is a South Korean railway line that links Seoul with Gimpo Airport) to Incheon International Airport, rated the best airport worldwide since 2005 by Airports Council International.
-Travel by bus or taxi is easily available, though bus service is more economical. Taxi drivers tend to speak little or no English. Have your destination written in Korean, with a map for private addresses or a hotel business card to show them.
-An International Driving Permit (IDP) may be used to drive around South Korea. In general, road conditions are good in South Korea and directional signs are in both Korean and English. Car rental rates start from ₩54400 a day for the smallest car for about a week. Traffic moves on the right in South Korea. However, if traveling in the big cities, especially Seoul, driving is not recommended as the roads are plagued with traffic jams. Note that road courtesy is almost non-existent in Korean cities and it is best to read up on Korean road culture before attempting to drive.
-Seoul’s bus system is operated by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, with four primary bus configurations available servicing most of the city. Seoul has many large intercity/express bus terminals. These buses connect Seoul with cities throughout South Korea. The Seoul Express Bus Terminal, Central City Terminal and Seoul Nambu Terminal are located in the district of Seocho-gu. In addition, East Seoul Bus Terminal in Gwangjin-gu and Sangbong Terminal in Jungnang-gu operate in the east of the city. To reduce air pollution in the metropolitan area, the municipal government is planning to convert over seven thousand of Seoul’s diesel engine buses to natural gas by 2010. Buses remain the main mode of national transport, connecting all cities and towns. They’re frequent, punctual and fast.
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