Seoul - South Korea

DemographicsNearly all of Seoul's residents are Korean, with some small Chinese and Japanese minorities. A rapidly growing population of international residents now represent about 2% of the total population . Seoul’s population surpassed 10,421,000 as of the end of 2007 and the number of foreigners was 229,000, constituting 2.2 percent of the population. The crime rate in Seoul is very low. Two major religions in Seoul are Buddhism and Christianity. Other religions include Shamanism and Confucianism, the latter seen more as a pervasive social philosophy rather than a religion. EconomyAs h

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Chachee :

I just read that Seoul is the third most expensive city in the world. !. Moscow. 2. London 3. Seoul. i live in Seoul and I don't find it should be ranked this high. Besides purchasing a home, I found Canada to be more expensive than Seoul for most things.>

Kaber :
"Yea I don't agree. Not to be ethnocentric about my city, but I feel NYC is damned expensive, I do not know about Seoul but I guess the statistics do not lie"
Gaya :
"I guess things have changed recently and many people do complain about the costs of high standard of living."
dk :
"are the houses in Korea overvalued? I think so."
Love Shepherd :
"Keep in mind that you have to pay 10s of thousands of dollars as an apartment deposit. Houses are outrageous and food and most other consumer goods are either imported or just domestic and overpriced. You can live cheaply in Korea as a foreigner if you try, but need bucks to live reasonably well as a Korean."
KoreanxGirl :
"Not entirely. These are just estimates. For instance, in Tokyo, it is 2.5 dollars for a can of coke, whereas in Seoul it is 0.5 dollars."
♥~Claudia R.~♥ :
"Yes, it is the third most expensive. It might not seem like it because you live there. Most Expensive Cities: 1) Moscow 2) London 3) Seoul 4) Tokyo 5)Asuncion (located in Paraguay) Hope it helped!"
Tricky :

Going to Seoul for 45 days. For work. First time ever. Dont speak Korean. Will be in Seoul entire 45 days. Need some good tips about Seoul..things that you wouldnt find online or in travel guides.. Some questions I have : -When going to stores in Seoul like 7-Eleven, does the cashier speak enough english to tell you how much you owe when youre buying something? -Is it true you shouldnt wear really tank tops, short shorts, because its considered skanky? even during July-August? -Any specific foods to avoid because theyre "hard to digest" -using international outlet adaptors no prob? etc etc

"mm i'm going to korea tomorrow pretty excited :) When going to stores in Seoul like 7-Eleven, does the cashier speak enough english to tell you how much you owe when youre buying something? --well, most of koreans speak english. just have hard time understanding it because they're not used to native talkers, but i assure you there wont be that much of difficulties. Is it true you shouldnt wear really tank tops, short shorts, because its considered skanky? even during July-August? --well, you can.. but yes, they'll think of you as a slut/low class. i'm a student in america so I'm used to wearing tank tops, shorts, but in korea, i packed big shirts and jeans. Any specific foods to avoid because theyre "hard to digest" --haha that depends. have you ever tried kimchi? some of my friends LOVE it and some HATE it. so idk.. but thats all i can think of. =.= using international outlet adaptors no prob? --I'm bringing my straightner, and it isnt the best thing to use the outlet adaptors, but you wont have any problems using it. hope i helped :) and have fun, you'll love it there. but be aware of the traffic. oh boy... :("
potblackettle :
"The cashiers (and other shop keepers) generally speak at least very very basic English. Also, chain stores will have a display on the register just like in the U.S. If you can't understand how much money someone is asking for motion for them to write it down. Since Korea uses the same numerical system this works every time. When I first got here I carried a pad and pen everywhere for this very reason. As for the clothing, I see Korean girls in mini-skirts and tanktops all the time. However as a Westerner and a business person I would suggest dressing in a more modest fashion. It will decrease "negative" attention. Just wear regular shorts and short sleeve blouses. Frankly, even back home I find "short shorts" and tank tops skanky unless you're on a beach or at a barbeque. Keep in mind that a lot of Korean food is quite spicy. So if you don't like spicy food you'll need to stick to things like mando (dumplings), bulgogi and galbi. Korean food is really delicious so make sure you try lots of things. After 8 months in Korea I've yet to come across anything I consider "gross". I especially love soon du boo (a spicy red soup with tofu), gogi mando, be-bim-bap (mixed rice bowl) and galbi (kind of like bbq). Dunkass is pretty much like a fried pork chop if you're unsure. I had no problem using international adaptors. It was pretty easy. Also, make sure you check out the National Museum in Seoul and take the Seoul City Bus tour. For 10,000 won ( about $10) it'll take you all around the city and you can get on and off as many times as you want. Have fun! Also is pretty handy for finding info about Seoul."
Dawn V :
"1. You do not need to speak Korean in a 7-11.. you can seee the amount on the cash register. The largest bill here is a 10,000.. just about $11.00. So you will never look foolish handing over a big note if you are uncertain or cannot see the register. 2. SAve yourself the embarassment of wearing shorts and tank tops here. Yes, foreigners do it and young 20-ish college students can get away with it in university areas, (Yonsei, Ewha, etc). But a tourist or professional will feel embarassed. I have worn full coverage tank tops this summer, btu I make sure they are high necked and tight in the arms. (no bra straps please) and shorts should be by your knees.. same with skirts. 3. 2 foods that Koreans traditionally eat to beat the heat: a chicken/rice soup adn dog meat. The dog is presented in specific dog meat restaurants, so there is no worry of you eaing it by "accident".. they believe in fighting hte heat with more heat so the chicken in the soup pot is boing hot. Stay away from "sea cucumber", (this is a large slug), and kimchi, if you are not accustomed yet. In the summer, you will often find the white version of kimchi, which is absent the red pepper paste, making it a cool, fermented cabbage side dish. This is quite nice but will give you bathroom problems if you not used to eating a lot of cabbage. 4. the outlet adaptors are not a problem. and depending on which hotel you are in, they may have western plugs. (The Hyatt, & both Hiltons have these in the rooms) Are you coming soon? You need RAIN GEAR through august. I cannot possibly stress this enough."
baldbonce :
"1) stores like 7 eleven have electronic displays that tell you how much you owe. 2) korea is much more liberal nowadays, yes you can wear tank tops and shorts. 3) avoid dog soup! 4) korea uses 250v so a power transformer may be required otherwise an adapter will work fine."
killy gonso :
"I am korean. 1.korean don't speak english. why do you speak english in korea. I don't understand american trying to speak enlgish in other countries. I spoke korean in american store before, american clerk there was angry saying speak English!!!! same reaction would be from korean. 2. no that's no true. you are welcome to wear tank top and short shorts. I would love it. 3.Do not avoid any food in korea. every foods in korea is fantastic. especially 보신탕(dog soup),you will realise the best meat in this planet is a dog meat. No kidding mate."
W_bluemoon :

Hi, I'm a university student and a lifelong Seoul resident. I'm going to Chicago as an international student next year and I'll be staying there for a year. Before going there, I want to know general information about Chicago. These are the things that I would like to hear about Chicago: 1. Safety and Crime rate 2. Environment and Pollution(esp. air pollution) 3. Public Transportation System 4. Living Expenses (except for housing) 5. Friendliness of People(Residents) 6. Weather and Climate 7. Cultural Activities (Clubbing, Parties, Gay Culture) Is there anyone who has lived in both Seoul and Chicago? Since I am from Seoul, it would be great if you compare Chicago with Seoul.

indyred2005 :
"Check out this site below. Depending on where you live in chicago the answers to your questions can vary. Yes they have public transportation, trains, taxis, and buses. Weather is coldddd in the Winter. Safety, be aware of your surroundings at all times."
marf :
"Chicago is not nearly as safe as Seoul. Be careful and know which areas to stay away from. The air quality is a little better than Seoul. Seoul is surrounded by mountains and has an inversion layer so the air only gets cleaned when it rains. Chicago is known as the windy city for a reason, so there isn't really any stagnant air. You'll see more trash on the grounds in Chicago and Graffiti on trains and such. The public transportation is good but again be careful. Chicago is pretty expensive. But Pizza and Greek foood are good here. If you think Seoul is cold wait till you get to Chicago. People are pretty freindly but it depends on where you are."
Always the Penumbra :
"1) As far as traffic goes, I hate to say this, but I think Chicagoans tend to be slightly more sane than Seoulites when it comes to driving and pedestrian traffic. This is probably due to the fact that Chicago is not as densely populated and does not have the problem of six lanes of traffic. Regarding crime, Seoul is a relatively safer city than Chicago in terms of crime. But as in any major city, you just have to be aware of your surroundings. Neighborhoods that are under greater socioeconomic stress (and therefore typically linked with higher crime rates) are on the south and west sides of Chicago. Even in those specific areas, I don't think it would be a cause for alarm during the day and near main streets; just be more cautious where you are at night. But there's no guarantee even in the "nicest" neighborhoods. If you are going to be a student, you'll have the added security of the campus community. 2) Chicago is a relatively cleaner city than Seoul both in air quality and littering. Again, at least part of this has to do with population density. 3) Chicago does have a subway and bus system. Unfortunately, its subway system is not as extensive as Seoul's or New York City (where I now live). There are some neighborhoods in the Chicago metropolitan area that are more easily accessible by car, e.g., Koreatown, a lot of "young" neighborhoods with hip bars and restaurants north of downtown Chicago, etc. If you can manage the expense of a car, I would recommend it. 4) In a 2005 report, CNN ranked Seoul as the 5th most expensive city in the world whereas Chicago ranked 52. You also have the advantage of a decent exchange rate. 1000 Won = 1.07 USD last I checked. 5) It's hard to generalize about an entire city of people, given its diversity, but I would say that Chicagoans are less frantic in nature than New Yorkers or Seoulites. Obviously, depending on the level of education of the person you meet, their knowledge (and acceptance) of foreign cultures will vary. But overall it is a cosmopolitan city, although it doesn't get as much notoriety as other US cities like LA or New York. However, you will find that Chicagoans are very proud of their city. 6) Chicago has a temperate climate similar to Seoul's except for two major differences. It does not have a monsoon season and it can get much colder in the winter compared to Seoul. The reason is that Chicago is next to Lake Michigan, a freshwater lake, which unlike an ocean or sea, does not provide a warming affect. Wind chill factors make temperatures feel much colder. Incidentally, Chicago's nickname is the "Windy City," although the source of that nickname is under debate, since some say it is a reference to the weather while others say it comes from a historically political context. Bring a hat to protect your ears, and wear layers (coming inside from the cold, some buildings can be very warm). For the summer, don't forget to bring a swimsuit. Chicago's beach front on Lake Michigan is all open to the public and a gorgeous place to exercise or just sun bathe. 7) Chicago has great parks, great museums, a world class symphony orchestra, a public (free!) zoo within Chicago itself, great theater, great restaurants, great sports teams, great bars and clubs (unfortunately, you'd need a car to get to most, especially for the late hours). Chicago also has Oprah! Here's a link to check out: Chicago has an annual gay pride parade day, but I'm not sure what date it falls. As far as gay culture goes, there is one neighborhood enclave that is specifically gay friendly nicknamed "Boystown" located within the formally named neighborhood of Lakeview. I don't know too much about available activities, but I found this website with gay interest themes relating to Boystown and the rest of Chicago As with any place in the world, depending on whom you meet, people's attitude toward gay culture varies, but from my understanding of Seoul, it is STILL quite difficult to be openly gay there. In that regard, Chicago is probably more progressive. Anyway, Chicago is a great city, and I think if you keep an open mind and get over the initial culture shock of being in a new country, you'll have a great time."


Comments on Seoul

Date: 2008-02-05 20:15:33

SEOUL, South Korea -- India has provided food aid to impoverished North Korea, the country's state media said Tuesday, in an apparent move to help ease chronic food shortages.

Date: 2008-02-05 20:15:33

By Jon Herskovitz SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea received a huge boost from Soviet technology to develop its ballistic missiles and still relies on foreign suppliers for key components, a report obtained on the weekend said. North Korea has built...
Date: 2008-02-05 20:15:33

By Jon Herskovitz SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea received a huge boost from Soviet technology to develop its ballistic missiles and still relies on foreign suppliers for key components, a report obtained on the weekend said. North Korea has built...

Date: 2008-02-05 20:15:33

Here is my recollection of what it was like to have to interview 8-year-old students on the phone (in English) while I was teaching English in Seoul.

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