Our Year in Korea Reviewed

This is it!  We were stationed here in Korea for a one-year assignment and that year has now come to an end.  It is time to move on to an amazing new location and an exciting new chapter in our lives.  For the most part, I loved living in Korea and I will always cherish the great times we had, the amazing things we've seen and places we've been, the wonderful new friends we've met, and the memories that we've made.  We have no doubt that someday we will return to visit, to shop, to tour, and hopefully to adopt :)

I wanted this final Korea post to sum up our year, let you know our perspective of the good and bad aspects of living here, and offer some useful things to know if you plan on coming here yourself.

Highlights from our year:

Things about Korea that we loved:

Things about Korea that we didn't love:
  • Weather (brutally cold winters, excruciatingly hot summers, monsoon season, yellow dust)
  • In restaurants, everyone's food comes out at different times
  • Restaurants have TINY napkins
  • Korea in general is a dirty place with lots of litter and garbage because...
  • There is a complete lack of public garbage cans
  • Hotels supply towels and bath mats but no wash rags
  • The language barrier is frustrating
  • Squatty potties (there is a technique to this that is worth learning!)
  • Washing machine and dryer combo machines (everything is often left damp and wrinkled)
  • Speed bumps and bad roads
  • Many areas smell really bad, especially in the summer
  • Driving (you must constantly watch for others not following the traffic rules)
  • Lack of beer variety
  • Many older Koreans (though not all) are often pushy and rude
  • Apartment living can get claustrophobic after a while
  • Korean's un-rational fear of dogs
  • Blatant racism toward different people of different races (not always, but it is there)
  • Commonly seen Juicy Girls and prostitution
  • Air pollution, especially the Yellow Dust in the spring
  • Parking spaces that are only the exact width of your car
  • Having to use plug adapters and voltage transformers

Good things to know if you are moving to or visiting here:
  • An iPhone or other smart phone is invaluable because of the maps, city guides, and translation apps
  • Don't drink the water (not that it's dirty, it just has tons of chemicals in it to make it clean)
  • Plugs are different and so is the voltage, adapters and converters are required
  • Be prepared for ALL types of weather - seriously
  • Some things are cheaper than in the United States and some are way more expensive
  • You can find most anything you need in Korea, but not always the brands you know
  • Clothing and shoe sizes are limited (larger sizes are not available everywhere)
  • Tipping is not customary or expected
  • Do not ask "yes or no" questions because Koreans will always say yes no matter what
  • It is acceptable to bargain in the markets
  • Pay for things with Korean Won or credit cards to avoid getting overcharged
  • A T-Money Card is a reloadable card you can use to pay for buses, subways, and some taxis
  • Military base taxis expect payment in US Dollars
  • It's worth it to travel first class on the bullet train
  • Hiking is one of Korea's favorite pastimes so the hiking trails are amazing and well-maintained
  • It is acceptable to show a lot of leg but not acceptable to show your shoulders and back.
  • Koreans don't like sunshine - pale skin is considered healthier and more beautiful
  • Always look for toilet paper before using the toilet - sometimes it is outside the stalls
  • There is a technique to using the squatty potties correctly
  • Korean is a difficult language to learn but learning to pronounce the Korean alphabet is not difficult and is very helpful when traveling
  • Keep an open mind and embrace the new culture you are immersed in :)

"Embracing diversity is one adventure after another, 
opening new paths of discovery that connect an understanding to
caring, listening, and sharing with others who are different than ourselves." 
~April Holland


  1. hi there, i truly enjoy reading all ur posts! and i particularly love dulce! so adorable and intelligent! very obedient, so much so for a canine tts always on the move across multiple countries. ~love from sgp!

  2. Thanks for your posts. I was born there and despite having been back many times, I am learning a lot from your blog. I especially find your likes and dislikes to be absolutely dead on. It is refreshingly honest and basically true..

    I have been planning to take my 8 year old daughter to Korea for the first time. And your site has been very helpful planning the trip.

    thanks again...

    1. Thank you! I'm so glad you found my blog helpful. I hope that you have a great trip back to Korea and that your daughter experiences and appreciates all the wonderful things that the country has to offer.

  3. Love your blog! We might be PCSing there next Spring and all your photos, tips, etc., are super helpful! I am really excited!

    1. Thank you, I'm glad to hear the blog is helpful! Enjoy your time in Korea and try to experience as much as you can! You will have so much fun but if/when it seems hard at times, remember that it's only temporary and that you will look back on everything and smile with fond memories :) Send me an email if you ever have questions!