Here in Korea, we're in the throes of (a rather mild) winter, but since I despise the cold, I've been doing everything I can to make sure I make it through my least favorite season with my spirit in tact. Part One of my "How-To: Survive the Winter in Korea" guide focused on five bits of advice that I've learned in my past two winters in Korea. Now I'll round it out to an even ten with the other half of the advice...
Crank up the humidifier.
While your ondol has some wonderful benefits, it unfortunately also contributes to the dryness that's in the air during wintertime in Korea. After waking up with a sore throat day after day, I realized that I needed to put some humidity back into the air.
Humidifiers can be found at any supermarket chain in Korea, often for as cheap as $20-30.
Indulge in Korean soups and stews!
One thing (of many) that Korea does really, really well is hot soups. And what better time to eat all the soups and stews than when it's below freezing outside.
Some of my favorites include tteokguk (rice cake soup), sundubu jjigae (tofu soup), and haejangguk ("hangover" soup, which is also just delicious anytime). I recommend heading to a neighborhood spot and seeing what they have to offer -- most traditional Korean restaurants will have at least some of these, as well as a wide selection of other soups and stews.
Find some strap-on ice cleats.
My first winter in Korea, I was dismayed to find that they don't really clear the sidewalks. This definitely varies depending on the city or even the amount of foot traffic a particular stretch of sidewalk receives, but my walk to work is basically the equivalent of ice skating. But without ice skates.
Enter strap-on ice cleats. They look ridiculous, yes, but I for one will not be risking wiping out on the icy sidewalks. I have yet to fall on the ice in Korea, and I am not about to start now.
My cleats came from home -- my parents had them from a previous ice storm, so they were passed on to me. You can buy you own on sites like Amazon and Gmarket, or you can look around in the sporting goods stores in Korea. If you're into hiking, these are a good investment anyway as the paths and stairs up the mountains are somewhat treacherous this time of year.
Settle in with Netflix and/or Hulu.
It's sure taken me long enough to figure out how to make Netflix and Hulu work in this country, but I have finally done it. Hibernation this winter has suddenly become a lot more convenient.
Setting up Netflix is easy: install Google Chrome as the browser on your computer and then download the extenstion called Media Hint. Then you're good to go! Thank me later when you're marathoning TV shows instead of going out into the cold.
Make a checklist of indoor activities for the weekends.
Korea is full of indoor activities to keep you busy this winter. Here's a quick run down of popular and fun things to check out, with links to those previously covered by Aclipse bloggers, when you're exploring and want to stay out of the weather:
Museums - War Memorial, National Museum of Korea, the Trick Art Museum, or even the new National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul. There's plenty to keep you busy, indoors, and warm, while also getting you out of the house and checking off some of your "Korea To-Do" items.
That's all I have for my winter survival tips! Leave a comment below if you've got any additional advice for powering through the last weeks of winter. Good luck with staying warm!
Between studying Japanese and Asian culture in university and setting her sights on a teaching career, it came as no surprise when Zannah Smreker announced that she was moving to South Korea to teach for Chungdahm Learning. In November 2011, Zannah accepted a position through Aclipse with the Yeonsu branch in Incheon, just southwest of Seoul. When she's not teaching, she keeps herself busy with exploring Korea, eating all the street food, and hunting down strange Engrish shirts. Check out her blog here for more of her adventures!