Expat South Korea

South Korea is one of the most impressive countries in Asia. While it is not know as an Expatriate haven, it has become more popular than in the past. South Korea has a strong culture that is said to be relatively closed off to foreigners. One reason for this thinking is the obvious, the language barrier and another reason is that the society seems to elicit the feeling of being cold to foreigners. While it may feel that way at first to many travelers or expats, the South Korean people can be extremely warm and friendly and your stay can be extremely inspirational.


The climate of South Korea has no bright spots. It can be warm, but very muggy during the summer months of June to September; winter on the other hand can be bitterly cold with temperatures below freezing. South Korea does have a monsoon season; however the best time to visit South Korea is during the fall time when the weather is mild and dry.

Since South Korea can have extremes in temperature, make sure you pack accordingly. If you are planning on being in South Korea year round, pack light t shirts and a heavy jacket for the disparities in temperature. Make sure to pack an umbrella and raincoat to protect yourself against the monsoon season.


South Korea is a republic. South Korea has prospered from its stable, mostly transparent government. The government has many influences in American style government, European style government and Chinese thought such as Confucianism. While the economy is very strong and stable, it can be difficult for foreigners to open up a business in South Korea. Most people choose the less tedious root of starting a business in the states and then doing business with South Koreans.

If you are interested in teaching English in South Korea, there are many opportunities available and for the most part, pay is very good. There is much demand for South Koreans to learn English, as well as excel at it.

You can learn more about life in South Korea by visiting the United States Embassy in Seoul.

You can find a list of South Korean consulates and embassies in the United States at AsianInfo.

Tax System

The tax system in South Korea is usually rated high; however for those seeking careers as teachers or English language consultants, a lower tax rate is available. Income tax rate in South Korea for individuals is 35% with a 10% resident surcharge. The corporate tax rate is a little lower with 27% with a 10% resident surcharge. For most teachers and English consultants, expect an income tax rate of about 7 to 10%. Besides income taxes, there is also property tax, a VAT tax and excise taxes.

If you are an expatriate from the United States, you can learn more about filing and taxes at the IRS website. You can also find tax information at the U.S. Embassy in South Korea.

Medical Care

Medical care in South Korea is modern, clean and accessible. Before you come to South Korea, make sure that your health insurance plan in the states is accepted in South Korea. If not, you will be required to pay in advance.

Pharmaceutical drugs, dentists and other health care products are also easily accessible and for the most part moderately priced. While many doctors speak English, if you are planning to go to a doctor or hospital, bring a long a friend that speaks Korean. If you are working for a company in South Korea that pays taxes on behalf of you, you should be able to acquire health insurance through your employer.

Real Estate

While it is fairly easy and for the most part affordable to rent a nice, clean apartment in the center of Seoul, investing in real estate can be difficult with many obstacles. Renting an apartment is the way to go if you are interested in living in South Korea for the short term. You might need to go through lots of red tape in order to purchase property as a foreigner.

Apartments are affordable to moderate and can be extremely cheap in rural areas. For many people, an apartment for $500 to $700 US dollars can be easily had. For more modern apartments with great features expect to pay more. $1500 will give you multiple bedrooms, an excellent location and all the amenities.


In South Korea there are plenty of modern shopping malls, small boutique shops and markets to bargain hunt. While thee are many goods that are extremely affordable, sometimes hard to find goods that Americans are familiar with are both difficult to locate and expensive.

For the most part, shopping is a definite plus in South Korea and those that live in the main cities can find all the shopping they desire. If you are located in rural sections of South Korea, you will find it a little more difficult to get the things you need or like the most, but there are many cultural craft markets that may be lost to those that only frequent Seoul.

There is plenty of nightlife in South Korea; however it can be expensive, even to Americans. With some browsing, you can find a few great places that offer specials and a good ambiance.

Cost of Living

South Korea was known decades ago as being super cheap. Unfortunately those days are long gone. While still affordable, South Korea is moderately priced. If you are looking to teach and make a salary of about $2,000, expect about $800 to $1,200 to live comfortably and the rest to save. While food and shelter cost the most, other things such as transportation is relatively cheap. For instance, public transportation is very cheap and owning a car, license and insurance is much more affordable than in the states.

Web Sites for Expats Living in South Korea


A guide to life in Pusan.

Extradition from South Korea

Extradition treaty between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Republic of Korea was signed in 1998.

Map of South Korea