South Korea, being a small and rather quiet country, is rarely at the top of anyone’s list of ‘must-see places’. The reason for this is that it’s hardly ever heard of. When you think of big cities in Asia, you probably think of Tokyo or Hong Kong; Thailand conjures up images of paradise, while Cambodia would probably be high on your list if ancient temples that interest you. Don’t be fooled though, Korea has all of these, and more.
However, if you want to see what the other countries have to offer, Korea is an excellent base to travel from because of its central location. All the beauty of South East Asia, Japan and China are a few hours away. So close, in fact, that you can easily slip away to Thailand, Japan or Taiwan for a long weekend breakaway.
Traveling inside Korea will not cost you an arm and a leg and you can easily explore everything Korea has to offer on weekend trips or longer vacations. Bus fares are very reasonably priced and can take you nearly anywhere, any time. Lodgings, like motels are cheap and comfortable.
Korean food may take some getting used to for foreigners, but is generally delicious and inexpensive.
Korea is an excellent place to work if your goal is to save money. Living costs are relatively low, compared to places like Japan and fixed salaries are higher than in many other Asian countries. Starting salaries are usually 2 100 000 won, with a thirteenth salary at the completion of your contract. Return airfares are paid by the school (some schools require you to pay the ticket, but reimburse you once you arrive). Apartments come fully furnished and the school pays your rent, so the only costs left for you are your bills, a minimal maintenance fee and food.
If the thought of going off to the unknown scares you and you are tormented by images of spider, snake and scorpion treats, relax! Of course, this is the general idea most of us have of Asia as a whole, but it cannot be further from the truth. Indeed, the odd steamed bug or chicken foot may come your way, but that’s not all there is. In fact, people looking forward to such an experience may be a little disappointed to find that South Korea is in many ways more western than you ever imagined. Koreans are extremely fashion-conscious – girls trot around in tiny stiletto’s and mini-skirts in the freezing winter, constantly checking their hair and makeup or taking photos of themselves. Guys are not much different.
Slave to the mega corporations? Don’t worry. So are the Koreans! Korea has Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts Baskin Robbin’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King, Krispy Kreams, KFC and McDonalds – everywhere! And if those aren’t enough, there are even more Korean versions of the same thing, so you’ll have no problem filling up on legal stimulants like caffeine, MSG and dangerous fats!
Jokes aside, though, Korea is such a diverse country, that you can take from it what you want. If you want a cultural experience, you can. On the other hand, if you want it to be an extension of home, you can have that, too. As with all things in life, it’s completely up to you.