Guide to South Korea: Information for Expats |

Guide to South Korea: Information for Expats

Everything that you need to know about South Korea before moving there

Posted on

1 April 2018

Last updated on 13 November 2018
by Rebecca Roberts
A Guide to South Korea for Expats

South Korea is located on the east of Asia and occupies the southern portion of the Korean peninsula. The country is a splendid collision of both ancient traditions, and hyper-modern cities, which has ultimately made it one of Asia's best hot-spots to both travel to and expatriate to.

Public Holidays in South Korea

South Korea's timezone is 9 hours ahead of GMT, and the country uses both the solar and lunar calendar. Holidays in the country are based on both calendars. Public holidays that are celebrated in South Korea include:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Seollal (or Lunar New Year’s Day, celebrated for 3 days)
  • Chuseok (Mid-autumn Festival on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, celebrated for 3 days)
  • Buddha’s Birthday (on the 8th day of the 4th lunar month)
  • Children’s Day (May 5)
  • Memorial Day (June 6)
  • Christmas Day

The national costume of South Korea is the “Hanbok” and is especially worn during national day celebrations. The Hanbok literally means “Korean clothing” and is characterized by vibrant colours and simple lines without pockets.

A Complete Guide to South Korea

South Korea’s flag was first created in 1882 but had numerous different designs. The white background in the flag represents peace and purity and the circle in the middle refers to the um-yang symbol, or better known as yin-yang in Chinese. This symbol represents the balance in the universe.

The red part of the circle represents the positive cosmic forces while the blue half represents the opposing negative cosmic forces. Furthermore, the trigrams represent movement and harmony as fundamental principles.

Currency in South Korea

Won (W) is the official currency in South Korea but you are however able to exchange U.S. dollars and Japanese yen at some of the tourist destinations. You should however be prepared to pay much worse rates than the actual available rates.

Languages in South Korea

The official language in South Korea is Korean but they also speak English, Turkish and Mongolian. South Korea has four major religions that are currently being practiced in the country, namely Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, and Shamanism.

Food in South Korea

Most dishes in South Korea will contain rice as this is the staple of the Korean diet. A meal will typically also include soup, various side dishes and sometimes a main dish of meat, pork or poultry. South Korea’s meals are especially known for the large number of side dishes that are served.

Religion in South Korea

You may be surprised to learn that a majority of South Koreas have no formal affiliation with a religion. Among those that are members of a religious organisation, there is a dominance of Protestantism, then Buddhism and Catholicism respectively.

A small percentage of South Koreans are members of other religions; including Won Buddhism, Confucianism, Cheondoism, Daesun Jinrihoe, Daejongism and Jeungsanism.

An Expat Guide to South Korea

Fun Facts and Useful Information About South Korea

Here are some interesting, and handy tips for you about South Korea:

  • Location: Asia
  • Capital City: Seoul
  • Other Important Cities: Busan
  • Currency: South Korean won
  • Language: Korean
  • Calling Code: +82
  • Internet TLD: .kr
  • Electricity: South Korea runs on 220V 60Hz.

Utilities in South Korea

There are several companies who provide electricity in South Korea:
Posco Energy

Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power KHNP

Korea Electric Power Corporation KEPC

South Korea Emergency Numbers

If ever you require emergency services to attend to an accident, or report a fire or a crime, save the following numbers or store them somewhere the whole family has access to:

  • Ambulance: 119
  • Fire: 119
  • Police: 112
    • For more information about the ambulance and emergency services in South Korea, visit our complete guide to health in South Korea.