The story of one student about studying and living in Seoul, Korea

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My day has come! I want to share with you the story of my move.

I entered the State University of Foreign Languages at the Department of Korean and after the second year went to Seoul for a month's internship. When I finished her bachelor's degree, I immediately applied for a master's degree at Seoul State University. That was four years ago. I now live in Seoul, writing my thesis and teaching at a private Russian language Academy.


While studying for a master's degree in Korea, I issued a d - 2 study visa, which allows me to earn a few hours a day. To do this, you need a passport, an application, two photos, a Bank statement, an invitation from the University and permission from the University to apply for a visa — it says that the work will not interfere with the educational process. Visa fee is $ 60. The study visa can be extended, and you do not need to leave the country.

A year ago I changed my visa to E-2: it allows me to work as a teacher in private language academies. It can be issued by those who graduated from the university in Uzbekistan and received a bachelor's degree. To change the visa, I brought to the immigration center a contract with the employer, an employer's license, a diploma of the University of Foreign Languages with an apostle, a certificate of medical examination, a certificate of absence of criminal record. The visa fee is $60.

The visa was issued for one year — this is the duration of my work contract. If the employer extends the contract with me, I will also extend the visa.

To work full time, you need to get a residence permit - F-2 visa. It is given for 3 years, after which it can be extended. Each applicant for a visa is evaluated according to a point system: you need to score at least 80 out of 120. Evaluated is age, education, knowledge of the Korean language, income, experience of volunteering. It is also usually required to take the Korean integration program - a special course for foreigners about life in the country.

Now I just passed the exam to determine the level of the Korean language - I have the sixth, the highest one. It remains to listen to 50 hours of integration program - and I can submit documents.

It is difficult for those who do not know Korean well to obtain a residence permit.

Public services

Every foreigner who plans to stay in Korea for more than 90 days must issue a registration card or a foreigner's card. For a non-resident, this is the main document.

To get a registration card, you need to come to the immigration center and pass the documents: I brought an invitation from the University, an order to enroll in the University, a completed questionnaire and a photo. Three weeks later, I picked up the completed card.

The card contains the home address - if it changes, you must inform the immigration center about this within two weeks. Once I forgot about this rule and I was fined $ 70.

There are two large offices of immigration centers in Seoul. I came across only polite and friendly specialists, never rude. Inspectors do not know much English, so without knowledge of the Korean language it will be difficult. In the immigration center you can find volunteer translators - they may be able to help, but it will not be fast.

Documents are accepted here only by prior electronic recording. This is not always convenient: you can't get an appointment during peak months. Last time I waited for my turn for a month, because the new academic term started and there was an influx of students. Urgent questions should be taken out of turn: for example, if I run out of visa, I will be extended on the same day. I haven't checked how it works in practice.

Wages and employment

 The Korean currency is called "won". 1000 ₩ is approximately 8220 Uzbek sums.

The minimum wage in Korea is 7530 ₩ per hour and 1 573 770 ₩ per month. The amount is set each year by the Ministry of labor. This amount is received by people working in the service sector. My friend worked in a mobile phone Department and after 2 years of work, he received 1,700,000 ₩ a month.

Young educated Koreans tend to work in large national corporations.

The salary of a young specialist in such a company starts from 2 500 000 ₩ per month.

Students start looking for work in their fourth year. At the beginning of the half-year, Korean corporations publish vacancies, students choose the ones they like and send their portfolios. Next, applicants will be invited to take tests — psychological and intelligence level. Those who passed will be called for a series of interviews, usually three. I also have to go through all this: when I finish my master's degree, I will look for a full-time job.

Young Koreans who have received a good education complain that it is difficult for them to find work, and are angry at the system. They have equally good education, experience of internships in local and foreign companies, but there are not so many high-paying jobs on the market. Less prestigious the work is complete. The official unemployment rate in South Korea is 3.3%.

Koreans work hard. In a standard job, they write that the working day is from 9: 00 to 18: 00. In fact, all are delayed, the employee cannot leave before his immediate supervisor. The normal situation is when a beginner works until two in the morning, comes cheerfully to 9: 00 in the morning, and then still works on weekends.

In South Korea, there is a hierarchical system: if you are older in age or position, you can manage the younger ones. This is especially noticeable in local companies where all employees are Korean. Usually the leaders, people of the old school, chase the young: if they do not like something, they will yell or even slap the face.

After work, men usually have a drink with colleagues. On the eve of the weekend, these companies will have fun all night: they will eat in one cafe, drink in another, then go to karaoke, then go to drink coffee. Men drink a lot, drinking on weekdays is considered normal. It's even surprising that Koreans consider Russians a more drinking nation. Korean vodka is called soju, its strength is 20%.

The increase depends on how many years you have worked in the company. When applying for a job, the applicant is told when they can be promoted and what they need to do: for example, pass a qualification exam. Usually increase after 3-4 years of work.

Holidays in Korea are small: a maximum of 10 days, so everyone tries to relax on national holidays. On the Korean New year, in February, rest 4-5 days. At the end of October-November, three dates are celebrated at once: thanksgiving Day, Korean writing day, and the day of the Foundation of the Korean state. Last year, these three holidays stood side by side and the whole country rested for 11 days.


The tax is calculated and deducted from the salary by the employer. For employees working in Korean companies, the tax rate varies from 8% to 35%, depending on the amount of income.

Our Academy holds 3.3% of foreigners. But if the annual salary is less than 24 million won per year, you can apply for a tax deduction.

Value added tax — 10%. It is indicated directly on the receipt.


There are about 10 major banks in Seoul, and their offices can be found near any metro station. There are also local banks, such as Busan Bank, but they are not particularly visible in Seoul.

Opening an account is easy. I didn't choose a Bank on purpose — I went to the first branch I found, located on the campus of my University. I filled out the form, then I was issued a card. You can choose the card design in advance on the Bank's website.

I use a so-called check card — an advanced debit card. Unlike the usual Korean debit card, it can be used at any time, not only during the Bank's opening hours. The check card is accepted in all stores, and you do not need to enter a password when paying. Service is free.

You can control your spending using the mobile app. In Korea, banks are obsessed with security: to pay for a purchase online, you need to confirm your identity four times.

This is how I pay my rent. I open the app, access to the account - by fingerprint. I enter the account number and amount, then confirm it with my fingerprint again. Then I enter the card pin and password from a special card. It is issued at the Bank together with a debit card, this is a mandatory requirement for all banks in South Korea.

Buying something online in South Korea is terribly inconvenient, but you can not be afraid of scammers. I've never heard of anyone having their card money stolen.

It is easy to pay with a card in the store: in large cities, there is a cashless payment everywhere. Unless the market may not accept the card if the seller is a Korean grandmother. Sometimes sellers ask to pay in cash, but they can be refused.


It is easy for a foreigner to rent an apartment in Seoul, but decent housing is not cheap. As a rule, apartments are rented through real estate agencies-the metro is full of their offices. The Agency will charge a Commission for its services.

The rental price depends on the amount of the Deposit: the larger it is, the less you pay per month. Therefore, in Korea, there are two ways to rent housing: "volse", with a small Deposit and regular monthly payments, and "jeonse", with a huge Deposit, about 90% of the cost of housing, but without monthly rent payments. In this case, you only pay for utilities. For apartment owners, this is beneficial, because they will put a huge amount of collateral into circulation.

I lived in my university dorm for a year and a half, I had a double room with shower and toilet. The monthly rent was 216,000 ₩. Separately made a deposit - the amount of monthly rent. It was returned when I was leaving the dorm, but they deducted a small amount for lost keys.

Students who didn't have enough room in the dormitory take off "koshivon" or "hasukchib". Koshivon is a room in an apartment building, arranged on the principle of a dormitory. Hasukchib is a room in a private house, where the hostess also cooks food.

Now I'm renting a studio apartment near the university. In Korea, they call such housing rooms. There are several kinds of them: one room, two rooms and officestelle are studio apartments that can also be used as offices.

I live in one room. Usually single people, such as men who came to Seoul to earn money or a student from another city live in such room.

Prices depend on the area. In my neighborhood, near Seoul University and public service academies, there are many rental housing offers, so the prices are lower. I pay 400,000 a month for "uanrum" ₩. I pay separately for gas - 20 000 ₩ and electricity - 15 000 ₩. I don't pay for water and internet. There is no central heating in Korea, the apartments are heated with underfloor heating or air conditioning.

Renting my studio 3 years ago cost 1,600,000 ₩. I made a deposit - 1 000 000 ₩, paid the first month - 400 000 ₩ and gave 200 000 ₩ commission to the agency.

Renting a full apartment is much more expensive. For example, a 23 m² apartment with an area of 23 m² will cost 700,000 ₩ per month, another 70,000 ₩ will have to pay for utilities. The problem is a huge bailout - 10 000 000 ₩.

There are people living in these apartments who have already got a job, but have not yet started a family.

The apartment is convenient to search through applications, the most popular - "Siegbang" - for iPhones and "Da-bang" - for android. There you can filter offers by distance from the subway, the size of the rent, deposit, and so on.


Korea's Higher education is paid for. At Seoul National University, the cheapest faculties are the Faculty of Arts, Law and Administration. The cost of the annual training is 2 611 000 ₩. The most expensive faculties are veterinary and pharmaceutical, 4 650 000 ₩ per year. Keep in mind that this is a public university, so the cost of education here is several times lower than other universities.

Most universities in South Korea are private. To study for free, you need a scholarship from a foundation or corporation. It is necessary to pass a series of tests and serious interviews, few manage to be among the lucky ones.

Telecommunications and Internet

Communication services in Korea are expensive. For 2 GB of Internet, 100 messages and 200 minutes of calls per month, I pay 43 000 ₩.

Buying a SIM card is the most difficult thing I've ever done while living in Seoul. Although you only need to come to the mobile office and sign a contract.

The difficulty is that you will be asked for a foreigner's card, and its registration takes time. I was able to buy a SIM card only 3 weeks after my arrival — all this time I was hunting for free Wi-Fi.

Foreigners can use prepaid SIM cards — they are easy to buy, but they are very expensive. For example, a SIM card for 5 days costs $ 28 — this amount includes 100 minutes of calls to local numbers and unlimited Internet.

The quality of communication in Korea is good. All operators have mobile apps where you can control the balance, watch the remaining minutes, and connect and disable services.

There are no problems with home Internet: as a rule, it is already held in a rented apartment and is included in the rental price.

In large cities, it is easy to connect to Wi-Fi, open networks are available in all public places, even in hospitals. In the metro, each Telecom operator has its own wifi — only subscribers can connect to it.

Groceries and food

There's a cult of food in Korea. You can't skip meals, you have to have breakfast, lunch and dinner, preferably at the same time. At work, even the busiest employees take a lunch break. Lunch is accepted with colleagues, in dining rooms or cafes.

Korean dishes are based on rice and kimchi, spicy pickled cabbage. All dishes are spicy. Koreans have two main seasonings - pepper in powder and pepper in paste, they are added everywhere. When I moved, it was spicy food that made it harder for me to adapt.

In a traditional Korean restaurant you can order free snacks - kimchi, germinated soybeans, pickled radish, spicy odeen - Japanese snack made of fish flour. Korean carrots, which are popular in Russia, have never been heard of in Korea. They are served only in Russian or Uzbek restaurants.

Language and communication

The Korean language is based on the alphabet - only 44 letters, Chinese characters are very rarely used. The main difficulty is the abundance of sounds that are not in Russian. Even in the Korean alphabet there are two letters "o", "e" and "n" - they are difficult to distinguish.

You can find free Korean language courses in major cities. There are volunteers working there, so I'm not sure this is a good way to learn the language. In addition, Seoul has immigrant adaptation programmes and a multicultural family support centre. In particular, foreigners are taught the Korean language, told them about traditions, explained how to behave in shops, banks and other household issues.

If you speak English, you won't have problems in South Korea's tourist destinations. At the airport, all signs and signs are duplicated in English, in the metro stations announce in four languages. But English will not help in everyday matters: in general, Koreans do not speak this language well because they learn grammar and writing first.

All in all

It's my fourth year in Seoul and I plan to stay here. Seoul has convenient transportation, a well-developed service industry, a good education and a decent job.

If you plan to study in South Korea or move here to live, I advise you to learn the language first. It's better not to go with zero: would be too difficult to adapt to.

Think a hundred times about whether you want to raise your children in stress from an endless struggle - first for a place in kindergarten, and then for a place in the office.

If you are not afraid of all this, you know Korean well, and ideally also English, ready to work hard and easily adapt to the new culture, then welcome.

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