Umbrellas backwards, sopping wet pants and muggy gumboots...are what you can expect from Korea's Monsoon season. Monsoon season has begun in Korea, and the sudden downpour of an insane amount of rain, can have anyone swimming home. Although monsoon may not be my favorite season in Korea, it doesn't me you need to stay inside your apartment all day waiting for the sun to come out. In this blog I will talk about not only ways to make sure you are prepared for monsoon season, but also some activities you can do during your time teaching in Korea.
Monsoon season usually occurs between the months of June and July and weeks can go by where the forecast is rainy everyday. This can put a damper on your summer holiday, so be prepared to plan accordingly. If you enjoy going to the beach during the summer, try to plan your visits during the months of August to mid September, as the weather is a lot better during that time.
Monsoon is the term given to Asian weather patterns that bring heavy rain fall to the continent annually. There are also typhoons that make their way across the Korean peninsula, before veering of to Japan. Japan is usually more affected by Typhoon season than Korea is, due to Korea’s location. Seoul usually experiences heavy rainfall and strong winds but, is hardly ever affected by the eye of the storm. The Southern must parts of the peninsula are affected such a regions that fall into Gyeonsangbuk-do or Jeollanam-do. These cities could include Busan, Jeju Island and Pohang.
What items Do I need?
Umbrellas, gumboots and plastic raincoats. That is all I think of, when Monsoon season comes to mind.
Having a sturdy umbrella is vital. Buy an umbrella that has a stick and does not push down. This is because the wind can be pretty strong and a weak umbrella will leave you soaking wet. When a gust of wind blows, your umbrella will pull back and you will be left defenseless against the Monsoon winds.
Gumboots are part of the Monsoon fashion trend. There are all sorts of really good gumboot brands you can buy in Korea. As an English teacher you will most probably be walking to school or catching a bus. Having a pair of gumboots will keep your feet dry during a downpour and you can carry your shoes in your bag.
You also need a travel friendly plastic raincoat. Having one of these in your bag is a lifesaver when you are biking or walking to work. Koreans usually buy the travel friendly ones that can fold and be stored conveniently. Plastic raincoats are also great for hiking and can be used as a waterproof tarp to cover yourself and your backpack.
What Activities Can I Do?
Rainy season does not mean you should be stuck indoors, it means that you should be prepared. When leaving the house make sure to check the weather daily. Also, have umbrellas both at home and work.
There are plenty of activities to do during Monsoon season, as it is hot and muggy out. If you feel like the outdoors you can go hiking, water-skiing and walking. Just keep in mind that if it is expected to rain a lot, it is probably not safe to hike as there might be mudslides or rock falls. However, if the day is filled with light showers, it actually is refreshing to do an outdoor activity in the showers.
Koreans don’t like the rain, so they usually shop or lounge at cafes on rainy days. Shopping malls are usually super hectic on rainy days and if you don’t like crowds then it might be a little overwhelming to shop. However, if you search Mangoplate, you might be able to find an awesome café nearby.
On the weekends, try to get to the Café before 12pm, to get a good seat and avoid the afternoon bustle. A great place to lounge would be Samcheondong district to experience the traditional tea houses in the Hanok village.
Korea also has various interactive museums to enjoy. The trick-eye museum is particularly fun and also the latest D-museum in Jongno-gu is worth a visit. There are also tourist spots like visiting different palaces or trying a silly photo booth for the day. At the photo booth shops you can try on an array of wigs and outfits and add funny emoticons to your images.
You could also visit the Lotte World Aquarium or experience a 4D Movie.
Should I Travel?
Yes, you can travel during this time; however the trick is to plan trips only a week in advance. I usually watch the weather and if the weekend looks sunny, I quickly scramble a bus and train ticket to my destination.
If I am trying to book a beach weekend in the summer, I wait until a week before, as many people often cancel their trips due to a weekend filled with lots of rain.
If you have to book in advance I would advise using Booking.com so that you can get a refund or at least change your dates. If you book transportation, you will need to change the dates of your tickets as soon as possible to avoid any cancellations charges. Call the Tourism hot line if you need help as they are really great as a source of immediate help in Korea.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email [email protected] to request more information on teaching in Korea!