5 Amazing Things About Living in Seoul, South Korea

Seoul, South Korea is a city with one foot in the past and the other in the future. Stone castles, medieval fortifications, and ancient shrines exist side-by-side with 21st century infrastructure. Even as Seoul honors its roots, its lifestyle is thoroughly modern. Residents enjoy an advanced, fast-paced culture that works hard and plays hard, where good food is easy to find and everyone enjoys clean, efficient public services. Living in Seoul is an incredible adventure, a chance to experience a city that’s both exotic and familiar.

Comfortable and Convenient Lifestyle

Seoul is a large, densely populated urban environment, with more people per square mile than Brooklyn, New York. But whereas other cities have struggled to accommodate such a large population, Seoul has excelled. Its public services are affordable, responsive, and efficient. Requests are answered quickly. Goods and services are delivered on time. And businesses work hard to minimize delays, so few residents stand around waiting in line. This culture of comfort and convenience extends to nearly every aspect of society, including:

  • Housing. Seoul has perfected the art of apartment living. Cozy and compact, they come with refrigerators, gas ranges, and air conditioners. Rather than furnaces, Seoul homes have heated floors. In addition, most apartment complexes are equipped with underground car parks, playgrounds, fountains, and gardens. Some even have kindergartens onsite!
  • Internet. At 28.6 Mbit/s, South Korea has one of the fastest internet networks in the world. The situation is even better in major cities like Seoul, where most homes currently have internet speeds around 100 Mbit/s. Things are likely to improve further over the next few years, thanks to a government push to install 1Gbit/s connections. It’s one of the reasons Seoul has embraced online culture so strongly. Practically anything you need can be purchased through your phone and brought straight to your door.
  • Healthcare. South Korea has universal healthcare, available to foreigners who have lived in the country for over six months. Patients can book appointments online and there are translation services to help visitors navigate the system and find the help they need.
  • Public Transportation. Seoul's train system is clean, fast, and comfortable. Made up of 23 rapid transit and commuter lines, it not only services the entire metropolitan area, but connects to regional lines that can take you anywhere in the country in less than three hours.

Rich and Savory Street Food

Eating out is so affordable that some people living in Seoul rarely cook at home. Besides the city’s numerous restaurants, most neighborhoods enjoy access to a wide variety of food trucks, food bikes, and street stalls serving traditional Korean dishes, such as:

  • Tteokbokki. Made from small, cylindrical rice cakes simmered in spicy red chili paste called gochujang, often served with fish cakes, boiled eggs, and scallions.
  • Hotteok. Sweet pancakes filled with dark brown sugar, cinnamon powder, and ground nuts. Savory style pancakes stuffed with noodles and chopped vegetables are becoming increasingly popular as well.
  • Gimbap. A roll of cooked rice, vegetables, fish, and meat wrapped in seaweed and served in bite-sized chunks, similar to sushi.
  • Mandu. Steamed, boiled, pan-fried, or deep-fried dumplings stuffed with meat, shrimp, vegetables, or kimchi.
  • Soondae. Korean soondae is made from pork blood, glass noodles, and glutinous rice, often mixed with scallions, garlic, ginger, pepper, sesame seeds, or Korean toasted sesame oil for flavor.
  • Dakkochi. Chicken skewers grilled over an open flame and served with sweet and spicy sauces made from garlic, soy sauce, and red chili paste. Other varieties are made with fish cakes, sausages, and short rib patties.

Competition among chefs has kept prices low while simultaneously raising the quality of their food. Even pop-up stalls pride themselves on their high-quality ingredients. Because Koreans typically work long hours, street vendors emphasize speed. While upscale restaurants may make you wait, food trucks normally prepare their meals within 2-3 minutes.

Legendary Nightlife

Koreans are notorious partiers. There are karaoke bars, all-night dance clubs, and hole-in-the-wall drinking spots throughout the city. On the weekends, some places don’t close their doors until eight in the morning! If you’re looking for serious fun, check out:

  • Hongdae. Located near Hongik University, this area caters mostly to students. There are 24-hour arcades, a three story chicken pub, a Halloween restaurant with costumes for patrons, and a metaverse play garden where visitors can immerse themselves in wondrous, virtual environments. But the neighborhood hip-hop clubs are the real draw. Places like Club Mansion, Noise Basement, and GOGOS 2 have long lines of people waiting outside every night, eager to hear the latest tracks from their favorite DJs and rappers.
  • Itaewon. A little more stylish than Hongdae, this neighborhood is a popular hangout for young and established professionals. Cocktail lounges and pop-up craft beer bars, as well as the city’s top jazz talent have also made it a favorite for tourists and out-of-towners. People come here to experience Billboard hits, world-famous musicians, and EDM so loud it shakes the floor.
  • Gangnam. Sometimes referred to as the Beverly Hills of Seoul, Gangnam was made famous by the 2012 song “Gangnam Style,” which racked up over a billion views on YouTube. The district’s luxurious, multi-story dance halls draw some of the biggest talent in the city. Expect to see famous DJs headlining the clubs here, which are some of the biggest in Asia. A few have indoor swimming pools and entire floors devoted to VIPs. It’s one of the most exciting spots in the city, but also one of the most expensive. Don’t visit unless you’re comfortable spending a lot of money.

Living History

Seoul has been a political, cultural, and military hub for over 600 years. Much of its Medieval architecture has been preserved or rebuilt in order to create a vibrant city that celebrates its past while working towards a brighter future. There are a wealth of historic structures to explore: castles, markets, watchtowers, even whole villages. New residents could spend weeks visiting the city’s landmarks, but for the best look at Korean history and traditions, start with:

  • Deoksugung Palace. Built in the 15th century, the Deoksugung Palace was home to the kings of the Joseon Dynasty. Though most of the palace complex was destroyed during the Japanese invasion, its buildings have been carefully restored. Visitors are plunged into a lavish recreation of royal life, including a guard ceremony carried out in complete imperial regalia.
  • Insa-dong. Its winding streets and alleyways offer visitors a curious mix of past and present. Wander through traditional arts, crafts, and stationary shops, which hold daily calligraphy demonstrations. There are pansori performances as well ‒ a unique Korean theatrical genre that mixes music, singing, and storytelling. This is also where you’ll find Jogyesa, Korea’s oldest and grandest Buddhist temple, where visitors can sign up to participate in the life of the monks watching over the grounds.
  • Dongdaemun. One of the eight gates of the Fortress Walls of Seoul, Dongdaemun is the central landmark in an extensive urban development that includes the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, which regularly hosts trade shows, fashion shows, exhibitions, conventions, and concerts, and the Dongdaemun Market, a massive shopping complex covering over 10 city blocks.

Spectacular Mountains

Despite the city’s urbanized environment, Seoul exists remarkably close to nature. There are over 22 national parks in South Korea, all within easy reach thanks to the country’s integrated rail network. With mountains covering more than 70 percent of the country, perhaps it’s no surprise that hiking is an extremely popular pastime. Head out into the countryside and you’ll find crowds of people out enjoying spectacular views of the nation's hills, wetlands, and lush, conifer forests. However, some of the most exciting trails can be found in and around Seoul, including:

  • Bukhansan Mountain. Situated along the northern border, Bukhansan is one of the city’s most prominent landmarks. Made up of three peaks (Baegundae, Insubong, and Mangyeongdae), it’s one of the best spots for hiking, rock climbing, and bird watching, with fantastic trails for both beginners and experts. It's particularly beautiful in April, when the azaleas are in bloom.
  • Gwanaksan Mountain. Steep and rocky, Gwanaksan is a challenging climb, but staircases and ropes have been added to make it more accessible for novice hikers. The mountain’s color changes dramatically throughout the year: green in summer, orange in fall, and pink in spring, when the cherry trees start to blossom.
  • Inwangsan Mountain. Located in the heart of the city, Inwangsan offers unobstructed views of almost every major landmark in Seoul. The short and relatively easy trail to the peak follows the old city wall and passes through the historic Changuimun Gate.

Moving to Seoul

For over 90 years, North American Moving Services has helped families and households relocate overseas. Whether you’re heading to Seoul or parts beyond, our agents have the resources, knowledge, and experience to get you there safely. From packing to logistics to customs and final delivery, our teams take every detail into account, with personalized moving plans designed for your needs. Make the transition to your new home as smooth as possible. Contact us today for a free quote!

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