Monday, June 2, 2014

Lifestyle in Seoul, South Korea by Phylissia Allmond

Welcome to Seoul, South Korea

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to live in Korea? Well…I am here to share with you (very briefly) what it is like to live here in Korea. I have been in Seoul, South Korea for almost six years. My husband, son and I came here from Virginia back in July 2008. This was due to my husband serving our great nation in the U.S. Army. We thought we were only going to be here for two years but two turned into three and now, here we are. Since 2008, a lot has happen in our lives. We were blessed to have our daughter, Desiree’ here in a Korean hospital. That was a very pleasant experience! Another wonderful thing to happen was my husband retiring after serving 22 years in the Army. Outside of our secular jobs, we pastor a small but growing church in a local Korean community.

Living Arrangements in Seoul

Seoul is considered to be the third largest city in the world and it does show. Due to so many people living here, there are very, very few places here in the city where you can live in a house with a front and backyard. You have to live in a high rise. There are many apartment buildings here with 20 floors or higher. Where we live, we are on the 15th floor. We park our cars in an underground parking garage and when we have groceries, we use a shopping cart to help us transport our groceries to the house via an elevator. Once we are finished, we take the cart back downstairs in case someone else may need it. We don’t have Central Air/Heat. Our air conditioners are built in the ceiling. They are very good. Most Koreans do not use their air conditioner because it can be very expensive so, they either keep their windows open or use a high powered fan to cool off. As for how to heat the floors in the winter time, we have heated floors. This comes from a Korean tradition. The control panel for this is on the wall of every room and you can use this to set the temperature in each room. Another difference is the way Koreans do laundry. Most of the time, they will either wash their clothes in a very small wash machine or wash their clothes by hand and hang them up on a clothes line that is in the laundry room. Very seldom do they use a dryer to dry clothes. This is due to them thinking it being expensive to do so. Another difference is the stove/oven. When you visualize this, you think of it being either gas or electric with a big oven to cook cakes and turkeys for Thanksgiving. Well…they don’t cook items like this all the time so, their ovens are very small (compared to what ours look like). At Thanksgiving or special events, we have to keep the size of our ovens in mind because if it is too big, we will not be able to cook what we need. If you live outside of Seoul, a person may be able to get a house but they have to keep in mind that some Koreans do not sleep in beds; they prefer to sleep on the floor. This is especially true in the winter time because the floors are nice and warm from the heat.

Driving in Korea 

Driving in Korea is very different than driving in the states. As a matter of fact, some of my friends are scared to drive off of the military base. It took me three years to drive to really have the courage to do this myself. Although there are rules in place, sometimes they are not followed. I remember the first time I drove off base and I stopped at the red-light because the light was red. The person behind me blew their horn because they wanted me to go. I didn’t move and they went around me and drove off. You may ask why they did that. They did this because even though the light was red, no one was coming and in their mind, it was okay to “run the red light.” So…you have to be very attentive while driving here (at least in Seoul). If you are driving in other parts of Korea, it is almost like driving in the states. People follow rules and it is not as hectic.


Prior to us coming here, my husband took me to a Korean restaurant. The purpose of this was to prepare me for the food. Although they eat pork, chicken and beef, Koreans eat rice with everything and put a red spicy paste on their rice. They also eat kimchi which is fermented cabbage and other vegetables like cucumbers. Although some people don’t care for the smell, it is very healthy. They also eat a lot of vegetables and noodles like chop chae. They normally make this spicy as well.


South Korea is changing. Although you still have some here who are Buddhist, there are many Koreans here who are Christians. They want to know about God so much that some churches here have services every morning prior to work or prayer and Bible Study throughout the week. They also have multiple services on Sundays. The largest church in the world is here with almost 1,000,000 members. I have attended this church more than once and the people literally “run” to church. And as one Elder told me: “When coming to this church, if you are 15 minutes early, you are 15 minutes late!” So, it is very important to get there more than enough time. They have a special section for foreigners. While in the service, you can get the sermon translated into your language.


Education is VERY important to Koreans. They believe it is vital for their children to study so they can get accepted into a good college in the United States. They strongly believe in studying, reading and always staying ahead of what is taught in class. I remember one of my students asking me for every ISBN number for all of our textbooks. When I asked him why, he said his grandmother wanted to purchase all of the books and have him to read every page of all the books and do every Math problem. This can be stressful for them but because they highly esteem adults and the elderly, they respect their wishes and do as they are told.


This is a very brief description of what it is like to live in Korea. I truly thank God for allowing us to live here in this wonderful country. South Korea has “come a long way” because they have gone through so much historically. Because of what occurred with fights between other nations in times past, Koreans work extremely hard and believe education is “a way out.” They make their children study extra-long hours and stress the importance of making good grades. Most Koreans consider it a high honor to attend college in the United States. If accepted, they attend college in the United States and later return home to “give back” to their nation. Americans have a great partnership with Koreans and they are very friendly. Part of this partnership is to invite Koreans over for an American meal and vice versa. I have learned that if you have a Korean friend, you have a friend for life. They will treat you like family and will always “look out for you” no matter what.

Phylissia Allmond
1. (Yoido Full Gospel Church)
2. (Seoul National University Hospital – my daughter was born here)
3. (Where we are station – Yongsan Garrison)
4. (South Korean Education)
5. (Korean Food)
6. (Sample of Apartment in Seoul)

Written by Phylissia Allmond - All rights Reserved (c) 2014 Inward Core, THE FIX


Post a Comment