Quick Notes on Korea

August 27, 2010

Health Insurance

Just like the Japanese, Koreans enjoy two types of insurance and pension plans: the national plan, which covers all citizens by default, and the employee plan, which is only available for companies that employ five or more workers. As an employee of a small hagwon (학원), I only qualify for the national plan. Unfortunately, since December 2008, foreigners are now required to be residents for at least three months before qualifying for health insurance. This means I’m not covered until mid-November. Not good. If you’d like more information, there’s an English language help line: 02-390-2000.

Seat Belts

Apparently only the front seat passengers are legally obligated to fasten their seat belts. Those in the rear, including young children who should be in car seats, are free to bounce around all they like.

Tap Water

I’ve been curious about this for a while. The teacher I replaced just filled up a few water jugs from the water purifier at the school to cut down costs. A 1-liter bottle only costs about 1USD here, but what about the tap water? I’m on the east coast, after all; shouldn’t that make a difference in the purification process? Everyone really raves about just how clean the water is here, from the transparency of the ocean to the water in the pipes.

Lonely Planet and Moon Handbooks suggest that travelers buy bottled water. Even though I’m in the countryside and nothing will probably ever come from drinking tap water, I’m going to play on the safe side. Just a personal decision. I’ve talked with other residents, including my boss, and it’s a sizable splint; many are afraid of the bacteria in tap water, but they admit they drink it occasionally.


Uljin is famous for four things: the snow crab festival, its unique mushrooms, the Energy Farm (otherwise known as the nuclear power plant), and Deokgu hot springs. Good news! If you’re a resident of Uljin, you get a discount at the springs; those suckers can go ahead and pay 6000 Won/soak, I’m going to stick with 4500.

On Teaching English

I’ll report on the particulars here later. My boss is a ping-pong fiend, and proud of it, spending about 300,000 Won (~300USD) on a paddle imported from Japan.

The People of Uljin

They’re a good group. Certainly no racists, as far as I can see. I did have a bit of a confrontation the other day that left me confused. Turns out, I was taking the last bus south for the day, and the ticket taker and store attendant both tried to warn me I wouldn’t be able to get back to Bugu that night. I know they were just trying to help, but they doubted my abilities, and made us all uncomfortable.

Ordering Online

I haven’t had any problems getting Amazon.com packages delivered. Do people in Seoul rely a lot on online purchases as well? Because from where I stand, it seems that is the major form of shopping in Korea. Check these sites out:




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