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flag South Korea South Korea: Living

In this page: Communities of Expatriates | Ranking of Cities | Renting an Apartment | School System | Health System | Tourism and Culture | Individual and Civic Freedoms | Religion


Communities of Expatriates

The Number of Expatriates
The number of foreigners in Korea (more than 90 days of stay) is greater than 1,000,000.
Blogs For Expats
For Further Information
Korea Foreign Company Association
Immigration Authority
Seoul Help Center for Foreigners
Transportation Companies For Moving/Removals
Hyundai Shipping
Contact the Embassy
Contact the Embassy of South Korea in the United States.
Contact Your Embassy
Contact the Embassy of the United States in South Korea.

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Ranking of Cities

Cost of Living
Seoul is the 15th city in the world with the highest cost of living according to Mercer Consulting in 2016.
Quality of Life
Seoul is ranked 76th among cities in the world with the best quality of life according to Mercer Consulting.
Sanitary Conditions
Seoul is ranked 95th among cities in the world in sanitary conditions according to MHRC.
For Further Information
Quality of Living Worldwide City Rankings - Survey - Mercer
Cost of Living Worldwide City Rankings - Survey - Mercer

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Renting an Apartment

Description of apartments
Usually the description of accommodations are limited to the space (notified in pyong – around 3.3 m2 - and also in square meters since 2008), and if they are offered for rental or purchase. Sometimes elevator, stairways and parking are included in the space. Some real estates agency can speak English in Itaewon's area (Seoul).
Normal Lease Term
2 years
Rental Costs
The renter is required to pay a large deposit after signing for one or two years. Renter should pay 10 percent of the deposit upon signing the contract. The deposit will be refunded upon termination of the contract.

For monthly payment: the renter is required to make monthly payments after providing a deposit.

Agencies or Private Rentals
It is recommended to sign the rental contract via real estate agencies as they offer information on the financial state and risk of the house, which prevents any loss of the deposit. Finding a private rental directly is difficult because of the language barrier.
Rental Agency Websites
Seoulife: Seoul Apartments
Global Midas Realty & Relocation
Century 21 Seoul Realty
Private Rentals Announcements Online
Peter Pan: Apartment Rentals (in Korean)
Other Possibilities For Accommodation
The home stay or guesthouses reserved for foreigners. They offer low cost accommodation but are based on a principle of community life similar to that in university residences.
For Further Information
Daily living information

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School System

School Level
Korea has a 6 year period (primary school), 3 (middle school), 3 (high school), and 2~4 (college or university) education system. Education at the primary and middle school level is compulsory, but  there is partial government support for kindergartens.
International Schools
Major Foreign Schools in Seoul & Other Areas
For Further Information
The Ministry of Education Human Resources Development

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Health System

Quality of Healthcare
Hospitals in Korea are generally well equipped. High quality general and specialty dental care is available in Seoul. However, the famous big hospitals are always crowded with patients and you have to wait your turn for a long time even if you made reservation before.
International Hospitals
There is not an international hospital in Korea; however, emergency treatment hospitals, general hospitals and private hospitals are operating international clinics for foreigners. For more information, consult the Hospitals and Clinics in Seoul.
Health Insurance
The National Health Insurance Corporation (NHIC) is the only public insurer managing National Health Insurance under the supervision of the Ministry of Health & Welfare.
Accessibility of the Health Insurance Network to Foreigners
Foreigners employed by a company that hires more than 5 employees are entitled to Workplace Medical Insurance. Community Medical Insurance is only for the people who are not entitled to Workplace Medical Insurance.
Health System Insurance Body
The National Health Insurance Corporation (NHIC)
Health Ministry
Ministry of Health & Welfare (MOHW)

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Tourism and Culture

Different Forms of Tourism

Korean history dates back over 5,000 years. Despite colonial policy in the early 20th century and the Korean War, historical sites and remains can be found throughout the country. Some of the most famous tour destinations include: Seoul (royal palaces, gates and walls, shrines), Gyeongju (the former capital of the Silla Kingdom), Kanghwa (temples and fortresses), Suwon (home to the Hwaseong Fortress) and Buyo (the former capital of the Paekche Kingdom).

List of Historic remains and sites.

The National Museum and War Memorial, both in Seoul, are considered must see destinations for visitors. The Folk Museum, also in Seoul, is a great place to learn about the history and transformation of the country. The collection at the Gyeongju National Museum is focused on relics from the Silla Kingdom and holds many important items of national cultural heritage.
Mountains, islands and Jeju's volcanoes are natural treasures of South Korea. The most beautiful places are protected by the government and there are 20 national parks.
Although the country is a Buddhist country by tradition, Christianity has become increasingly popular since the end of the 19th century (with nearly 25% of the population of Catholic or Protestant faith). Buddhist temples are typically more popular among tourists, as they are older and located in more natural areas. Churches are less visited, but are typically very modern and located in urban areas.

Hot springs and spas are quite popular among Koreans. Facilities offered are very modern and safe.

South Korea offers a large range of beaches. The most famous are located on the south coast (around or inside Busan) or on the east coast. Beaches located on the northeastern coasts are only open during summertime. The country also includes various islands, including the sub-tropical island of Jeju, which is home to a natural World Heritage Site (Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes).
Winter Sports
With cold and snowy winter and various mountains, South Korea is a great place for winter sports.
Outdoor Activities
Outdoor activities include walking, diving, cycling, bungee jumping and hiking. Korean mountains are beautiful, but even more so in autumn, providing a beautiful environment for many outdoor activities. Golf if also quite popular in Korea, with more than 2 million individuals playing the sport.
South Korea offers a wide variety of shopping outlets, ranging from very large shopping malls to traditional markets. Prices in department stores tend to be higher than in Europe, but it is possible to negotiate prices in markets. Seoul has some of the largest markets in the world (Namdeamum and Dongdeamum).
Tourism Organisations
Korea National Tourism Organisation (KNTO)
Seoul City Tourism
Cultural Organizations
Ministry of Culture & Tourism
For Further Information

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Individual and Civic Freedoms

Political Freedom
Widespread. Despite the overall health of the South Korean political system, bribery, influence peddling, and extortion by officials have not been eradicated from political, business, and everyday life.
Civil Liberty
World Ranking of Freedom of the Press According to "Reporters sans Frontières", 2021 report : 42/180
For Further Information, Consult World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders
Free Access to the Internet
Rule of Law
Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights
Relatively widespread.
Women's Condition
Women in South Korea possess de jure equality, but there is de facto discrimination in employment opportunities and salary.
For Further Information
Freedom House Country Report
US Department of State Human Rights Report

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Degree of Freedom
Widespread. The constitution in South Korea provides for freedom of religion and the government does not enforce any state religion.
Population with religion: 53.1%. Among those who are religious: Buddhism (43.0%), Christianity (34.5)%, Catholicism (20.6%), other (1.9%).
Role of Religion in Society
Religions play an important role in contemporary social life (ceremonies like marriage and various festivals) and sometimes they lead the social movement on several issues (like North Korea's human right, anticorruption in politics or economy, Help the poor and the old, etc.).

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Latest Update: June 2022