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South Korea

Introduction

A nation at the forefront of modern technology yet embracing heritage and culture, South Korea has been an exciting destination for travellers for decades – and thanks to loosening policies for foreigners in the past decade, also an increasingly popular destination for expats.

As one of the world’s leading producers of technology products, telecommunications and automotive, it is a great place for expats looking for career opportunities in this domain.

While it is a perfect destination for many reasons, do note there might be a language barrier as majority of South Koreans only speak Korean. Do not be discouraged! Take this as an opportunity to brush up on your language skills!

Area: 100,363 km2 (38,750 sq miles)

Population: 51.7 million (2019 estimate)

Capital: Seoul

Seoul City Stephan Valentin, Unsplash

National anthem: 애국가 (“Patriotic Song”)

Government type: Unitary presidential constitutional republic

Languages: Korean

Religion: Predominantly do not subscribe to any religion (56.1%), followed by Christianity (27.6%), Korean Buddhism (15.5%) and others.

Ethnic Groups: Predominantly Korean

Climate: Experiences four seasons – typically with winters from November to March (-6oC- 2oC) and warm and summers from May to September (23oC- 30oC)

Currency: Korean Republic won (KRW)

Expat Population: 1.8 million

Taboos: South Korea is a relative conservative society in Asia, so there are relevant etiquettes and taboos to take note of. For instance, it is impolite to call someone by their given name unless permission is given. Also, physical touch like patting or hugging is uncommon between unfamiliar strangers and can be constituted as an insult.

Gwanghwamun Gate, Seoul Timothy Ries, Unsplash

Cultural behaviour

South Korea, also commonly known as “Republic of Korea”, not to be confused with its neighbouring North Korea, “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, had a long history with its neighbour since the 7th century. It was only after World War 2 that the country was split into two independent nations – and South Korea continued to experience strong economic growth as one of Asia’s economic tigers!

Traditionally a conservative and ethnically homogenous society, South Korea has not been the most open to immigrants. However, in the past decade, due to challenges of an aging population and low fertility, South Korea have since gradually relaxed controls and began looking outwards to attract foreign workers.

Human Development Index (HDI): Ranked 23 in the world tied with Luxembourg

Cost of Living: Ranked 11th in the world, Seoul is also another expensive city to live in due to the housing situation. However basic day to day expenses is reasonably affordable.

 

 

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