A great place to start for virtually any need is the Seoul Global Center. Visit them on the third floor of the Korea Press Center, near City Hall (City Hall station, line 1, exit 4, walk 50 meters and see it on your right). Too far? Check out their other locations in Itaewon / Hannam, Ichon, Seorae, and Yeoksam (near Gangnam station).
Phone numbers for the Seoul Global Center (updated 17 Feb 2010):
02-2075-XXXX (fill in the last four numbers for the direct line you want)
General consultations: 4130, 4131, 4138
Consumer consulting: 4129
Tourism information: 4120
Bank service: 4146
Korean class: 4140
Labor consulting: 4124
Legal consulting: 4125
Tax consulting: 4145
Real estate consulting: 4126
Note: the free labor, legal, tax and real estate consultations are only available every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 2-5pm.
If it’s time to look for a new job, check out the HiExpat.com boards. Post your resume if you want, or just scour the boards for a better deal than you currently have.
The Korea Travel Information line – 1330 (great for finding a specific place, figuring out how to get somewhere, or breaking through the language barrier). If they’re busy, call 120, then press 9 to get an English-speaking operator.
Speaking of traveling, look up times and prices for trains across the country can be found at Korail’s website. Buses in Seoul can be tracked down here (PDF), while you can figure out which buses to take from point A to point B over here.
If you want some ideas on places to check out, Visit Korea can you get started – just choose a region or category you want to see. To join a group trip, Adventure Korea does everything from hiking to DMZ trips to camping.
Regarding Korean news, you may already know about the Korea Times and Korea Herald – Korean news in English. Did you also know about the Hankyoreh, the Chosun Ilbo, Yonhap News, The Seoul Times, the Donga, and the Joongang Daily?
As for learning Korean, one resource is available at http://fsi-language-courses.org/Content.php?page=Korean – the same resources used to train U.S. diplomats in a foreign language. The Korean Wiki Project is a wonderful resource for learning hangeul and adding to your Korean vocabulary.
Recommended by Lonely Planet, World Nomads travel insurance is available to people from over 150 countries and is designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. (Sponsored link)
Speaking of studying in Korea, check out this website sponsored by the Korean government about Korean universities. Good information about scholarships as well.
The Korea Immigration Service hotline – 1345 – great for answering those pesky visa or immigration questions. Open from 9am – 6pm, but you can also look at hikorea.go.kr or immigration.go.kr. There’s even a specific page on staying in Korea after your teaching visa runs out (called “Temporary extension of stay for departure of registered foreigners“, it lets you stay in-country for 30 days extra after proving you’ve bought a plane ticket)
The National Pension Service – 1355 – to learn about the status of your pension – has your employer been paying into it? Can you expect a refund of it? and so on. http://www.nps.or.kr/
The Korean Labor Board can be reached at 1350, while the National Labor Relations Commission can be reached at 02-3273-0226. Bear in mind that the latter is a general number, and may not have an English speaker available. Another way to file a complaint is through the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) at www.epeople.co.kr.
More information about medical insurance can be found at the NHIC (National Health Insurance Corporation) at their website – http://www.nhic.or.kr/english/index.html
The National Tax Service – 02-397-1440 – ensure taxes that have been taken out of your paycheck have been paid, or to report an employer that doesn’t.
Concierge K offers a number of services to expats in Korea – travel suggestions, ticket booking, and moving assistance are just a few things they can help with. They charge a percentage of the service / product fee, starting at 2,000 won. Call Mason Sim at 02-720-0022 or e-mail enquiries AT conciergek.com.
The Perfect Face International Dental Clinic – Need a dentist that speaks English? Call Dr. John Shaginyan for English at 02-558-2275, or his mobile at 010-7254-2875. You can also e-mail at email@example.com. Reservations are required; located 2 blocks from Yeoksam station (line 2, exit 6).
The Create Wellness Center – Need chiropractic service, massage therapy, or having pain? These may well be the guys to contact, and with a free first consultation it can’t hurt to try. Go to http://www.createwellnesscenter.com/, call 02-798-1446, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Be aware that private practices do not necessarily accept Korean insurance, but it can’t hurt to ask.
Ladies needing an OB/GYN doctor: Dr. Sung’s Clinic in Hannam-dong. Take the Seoul subway to Hangangjin Station (line 6, exit 2). Head straight out exit 2, hop on bus 110B and get off three stops later (just after the bus makes a left). The bus stops in front of the KEB building – go up to the third floor, then look right. Call 02-790-0802 or 010-3760-0802 if you need more help.
Support groups for sexual violence:
Dasi Hamkke Center
An agency that helps victims/survivors of sex trafficking.
Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center (KSVRC)
Korea’s first specialized sexual violence counseling center.
Korean Women’s Association United (KWAU)
Body & Seoul (Kyeongnidan)
Counseling (in English, Korean, and Japanese): If you need emotional counseling, are having relationship difficulties, or suffering from abuse / addiction, check out http://counselingcenter.or.kr/serv02/serv02_02-eng.htm. Call them at (02) 790-5910 or e-mail at email@example.com. Located in Ichon-dong, Yongsan-gu, closest to the Ichon subway station on line 4. Take exit 3-1, walk for about 80 meters, then look to your right for a building called Dongin Sang-ga, and go up to the 2nd floor.
Last but certainly not least, the American embassy offers a number of services – as does the Canadian embassy, the British embassy, the Irish embassy, the Australian embassy, the New Zealand embassy, and the South African embassy.
Magazines for expats / English speakers in Korea include:
The Groove - available at bars, restaurants, and clubs in the Hongdae or Itaewon areas of Seoul
10 Magazine – available at bars, restaurants, and hotels around Seoul.
Seoul Selection – produced by the Seoul city government, the print version is of excellent quality and found for free in some tourist information centers. Readable online in a fancy Flash format – don’t be too surprised if your computer is slowed down somewhat.
Busan Haps – a magazine dedicated to those expats in Korea’s second largest city.
Daegu Pockets – brought to you by the team at Galbijim. Bi-lingual, readable online, and all about what’s happening in Daegu.
Anything else worth putting up here? Let me know by e-mail: chrisinsouthkorea AT gmail DOT com.
Provided as a courtesy and service to readers.
Updated 6 Feb 2013