The Quick Facts of USFK Personnel living in South Korea

Quick Facts for USFK members and their families who are moving to South Korea

  •  Automobiles are driven on the right side of the road, just like America.
  • POV’s are not allowed unless a soldier has a command sponsored family – Non-command sponsored families can request an exception to policy.
  •  Prices are in cardinal numbers (1, 2, 3, 4) so it’s easy to shop without speaking Korean.
  • South Korea is 13 hours ahead of NYC, 14 hours ahead during Daylight Savings Time. Ex. 8pm Friday night  in NYC is 9am Saturday morning in Korea. It’s fun flying back to the states because in reality it’s time traveling! Wibbly Wobbly, Timey, Whimey…
  • The currency used is won. The quickest way to convert it is to move the decimal to the thousands place. For example: $1=1,000w. Of course that’s not accurate but it’s a good approximation. Go to my front page to see the current exchange rate. You want to see the won above 1,110, that number seems to make people happy.

    Korea v America

    South Korea fits inside New Mexico!

  • South Korea has a population of 50million compared to 322million in the US. This may seem small but worldwide it ranks 23 in population density with 1300 people per square mile whereas the US ranks 76 with 86 people per square mile. Check out the map to see how tiny it is! It fits inside of New Mexico.
  •  North Korea has only conducted 4 underground Nuclear missile tests while the US has completed over 1000. North Korea is really bad at making war, the biggest fear for the South Koreans is the inevitable coup within the country that will create millions of refugees fleeing to the south. Wiki
  • South Korea is known for its technological innovations, intellectual properties, K-Pop, high university graduation rates, Fashion Industry, incredible Cosmetics and their Chabols 재벌, huge corporate families that are known around the world like Samsung, LG and Hyundai.
  • South Korea recycles everything, including food waste. Offpost dwellers will be surprised how little trash they create, I put out a gallon ziploc bag of trash each week.
  • South Korea has the cleanest, cheapest and fastest public transportation in the world. They even have a MagLev train! News Article
  • Guns are illegal in South Korea – this includes paintball guns and airsoft. Any brought to the country during a PCS will be confiscated.
  • Pornography is illegal in South Korea. *sad face*
  • South Korea does not have a jury system and their anti-defamation laws are very strict. Badmouthing businesses or persons on social media can lead to persons getting for slander.
  • South Korea does not allow Google mapping services due to old, outdated laws a grudge. Read here. It is best to get a map app like Waze or Naver for driving directions.
  • There is Yellow Dust – A cloud of dust from the the deserts of China and Mongolia travels to South Korea mostly during the spring month and causes the sky to be hazy and for some to have an allergic reaction. My family is only suffering from the pollen but I have heard of some people who struggle with their allergies here, possibly because of the dust. The Korea4Expats blog has a nice write up on Yellow Dust.
  • Cats are considered vermin and dogs are for work or meat – Because of western influences, the views on animals as pets is a new concept in South Korea. Because the country consists of new pet owners without much experience with animals, the stray dog and cat populations are very high. There are many puppy mill pet shops and Koreans and Americans alike will buy a new pet and then abandon it. It pains me to say that pets are abandoned by Americans during PCS season because of the exorbitant costs to ship them back to the states. There are more options for dog parks in South Korea than there used to be but owning a pet here can still be difficult.
  • For natural disasters there are Typhoons, Landslides, Flooding and Earthquakes. Earthquakes are far and few between and come in below a 5.0. Typhoons are another word for hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean. List of Typhoons that have made landfall in South Korea: It’s a short list.


See anything need fixing? Am I missing something really important for first time visitors to Korea?

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Last Updated: July 1, 2016

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