My last blog talked about where to buy food and furnishings while living in Korea. This blog will focus on helping you get your cellular phone in order when you begin teaching in Korea and will also help you find great areas to shop for clothing if you are on a budget.
If you didn’t know, Korea has the highest cellular phone turnover in the world. About every 2 years, Koreans tend to change their cell phones. Knowing this, it can help you get a phone plan with one of Korea's major cell phone providers: SK, SKT, and LG+. My phone uses SK and my plan uses 6GB for data and 300 calling minutes. However, even I know what I have is too much. Most foreigners will use Skype, Facebook, or Gchat on their home computer to talk to their family back home. If you have the Kakao or Viber app on your phone, as long as your family member has the same app back home, your texting and calling will be free.
Before coming to Korea, if you can afford it, purchase an unlocked phone. Surprisingly, cell phones in Korea are expensive, but you can make monthly payments if you buy a phone and plan together. However, I strongly suggest bringing an unlocked phone back from your home country. SIM cards are cheap and all you will need to do is set up a plan with one of the cell phone providers. If you don't bring a cell phone from back home, I suggest going to one of the places when setting up your phone in Korea.
Arrival Store: The Arrival Store is where I got my first cell phone when I got to Korea. I didn’t know how to speak Korean so I just ordered it through this company. If I had known better, I would have gone and gotten a plan by going to an area where there are many foreigners. An area with many foreigners means a greater chance of the staff speaking English (like Gangnam Station in Seoul). If you can't make it to an area where there are many foreigners when you get to Korea, The Arrival Store is still a very good option as they do have some decent plans. Plus, you can purchase many more items through them to furnish your home.
Craigslist: Just like in many other nations, Craigslist works really well in Korea. Many foreign teachers who are leaving the country do not want to pay the cancellation fee with their provider. Through Craigslist, you can actually buy the person’s phone including the contract. The benefit of this is that if you are paying off the phone, it will be yours once the contract is finished. Most people will pay off their cell phone using a 2-year contract, so you can finish off their contract since you yourself will be signed to teach for one year.
Facebook Group: “Welcome to Korea” is a business who can help foreigners adjust quickly to the Korean lifestyle. Headed by expats, for a small charge, they can help you figure out what cell plan is best for you and even help you set up your bank account. If you are having trouble speaking Korean or are not comfortable doing things by yourself, a consultant can definitely help.
Buying clothes in Korea can be tough if you are of a bigger build like most expats are compared to native Koreans. If you are a bigger size guy or girl, I strongly suggest that you bring additional clothes and shoes from home. Finding larger sizes in Korea is ridiculously tough. Sometimes, you may need to use Amazon or GMarket to find your size. Also, difficult sizes to find also means paying a little bit more. Below are some of the places I suggest you try shopping, especially if you are on a budget.
Underground Subway Shopping: Many of the major subways have underground shopping stores that sell all types of clothing and other things. If you are looking for a good deal, make sure to stop by Gangnam Station (Green Line 2) or Express Bus Terminal Station (Orange Line 3). These two are the biggest underground shopping centers in Seoul. Majority of the clothes here are for females, but men can purchase some clothing here too.
AM/PM Mall: Located in Dongdaemun Plaza (Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station Green Line 2). Dongdaemun is a huge shopping area in central Seoul. Make sure to bring a lot of cash because here at AM/PM you can haggle prices as long as you carry Korean won on you. If you don’t carry won, there are many foreign currency exchange shops that will do it for you. Also, if you go out night, there are a lot of people and a lot of deals that can be done. People are shopping there from 10PM-4AM. Definitely a must try if you are living in Seoul.
Moving out into a different country can be extremely scary and difficult. However, I hope these blogs will help you quickly get adjusted to living in Korea. May you have an easy and enjoyable time here!
After working for five years in banking, Marc decided that it was time for a change before he got too old. He left the stress from his 9-5 job to do something new and different. After coming to Korea with a group of buddies, he landed in the Gangdong Branch in Eastern Seoul. When he's not teaching and doing head instructor duties, he is out about traveling Korea, looking for the new, old, and undiscovered places to visit. Follow him on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku for the latest happenings in South Korea.