Living in Korea

Groceries

Here’s an idea of the availability and prices of your everyday groceries.

Softdrinks

Availability: Everywhere

Price: 500 won (can) to 1,400 won (1.5 litre bottle)

Bread

Availability: At most supermarkets and specialty bakeries

Price: From 1,000 won. A half-loaf of sliced white bread will cost about 1,500 won. Be warned – the bread here tends to be sweeter than back home, and wholewheat can be difficult to find.

Bottled water

Availability: Everywhere

Price: 300 won for a small bottle. Up to 1,000 won for a 2 litre bottle.

Yoghurt

Availability: At most mid-sized and large supermarkets. But you’ll struggle to find anything larger than a 125ml cup.

Price: From 1,800 won for a four-pack of 125ml cups.

Coffee

Availability: Everywhere. However, coffee here tends to milder than back in SA. This makes it harder to get a decent caffeine fix. You can find instant coffee granules, single-serve sachets, filter coffee and coffee beans. Be prepared to pay quite a bit for decent coffee, though. Coffee shops are all over the place, but these can be pricey.

Price: From 2,500 won for a box of 25 single-serve sachets. 8,000 won for a 175gram bottle of instant coffee. At a coffee shop, prices start at around 2,500 won for a cup of filter coffee.

Milk

Availability: Everywhere.

Price: From 1,300 won for a 1 litre box. Average price is about 2,000 won for 1 litre. The boxes are hell to open.

Breakfast cereals

Availability: At most mid-to large-sized supermarkets.

Price: Varies depending on what you want. I eat cornflakes, and these cost from 4,500 won for a 600g box. You can find pretty much any cereal you want, though be prepared to pay.

Fruit

Availability: Everywhere.

Price: Expensive. The price varies a great deal depending on what you want, and where you are shopping. But in general fruit is very expensive in Korea. Recently I purchased a bunch of bananas for 3,000 won, and a pack of nectarines for 5,000 won. Fresh fruit can be a bit of a luxury.

Pasta

Availability: At most supermarkets

Price: From 1,300 won for 500grams. There is a limited range of pasta available in Korea. Most Koreans equate pasta with spaghetti, so I’ve gone to a couple of “Italian” restaurants here where they say pasta on the menu, but all you ever get is spaghetti. In the supermarkets, all I’ve been able to find so far is spaghetti (of course) and elbow pasta.

Note: I’ll be adding more items. I haven’t noted the prices of all the items I normally purchase.

Electricity and plugs

The electrical voltage in Korea is 220v/230v, which is in the same range as South Africa. What this means is that you can plug your South African electrical items directly into a Korean electrical outlet without an adapter/transformer.

The electrical plugs in Korea are usually Type C or Type F, also known as European-style plugs. So the two-pin plugs that we usually use in South Africa fit into Korean electrical outlets with no problem whatsoever.

Below are some pictures of the electrical outlets in my Korean apartment, as well as the plugs that I use in these outlets.

Two of the plug types used in Korea. The black one is exactly like the two-pin plugs we use in South Africa.

Two of the plug types used in Korea. The black one is exactly like the two-pin plugs we use in South Africa.

Two plugs I use in Korea. The white one comes from South Africa. The other was bought in Korea. They are exactly the same.

Two plugs I use in Korea. The white one comes from South Africa. The other was bought in Korea. They are exactly the same.

Korean electrical outlet. It accepts European-style plugs, like the two-pin plugs we get in South Africa.

A Korean electrical outlet. It accepts European-style plugs, like the two-pin plugs we get in South Africa.

29 responses to “Living in Korea

  1. Thanks Thomas! Check out http://samkorea.blogspot.com/

  2. Pingback: Everyday living « SafKorea - For South Africans in Korea

  3. Lots and lots of cookies – very very limited on range of chocolates – I’m suffering severely in this aspect – I love to suffer to choose which chocy it will be – bu here you must take what you get! aaaaa – give me a pepermint aero for now!!!!!!!!

    o yes – and bread – my other passion – paper is the word for bread in korea – even the french pastry franchises – paper paper paper … O how I long for a cloudy government white bread from South Africa!!!!!!!! Just like that – with butter – and a crispy crust !!!

  4. hi, just wondering if anyone has done any dental work in seoul. just got back from the dentist and i feel like i was ripped off. also need a second opinion so if you do know of any professional english speaking dentists pls let me know, thanking you in advance .

  5. Hi TB, hope all s well on your side of the country. Was just wondering if you know about the visa scenario for South Africans here who want to visit Japan? Is it complicated to get, price etc? Anything would be greatly appreciated! Many many thanks as always!

  6. Hi Michelle

    I’m actually busy arranging visas for Japan at the moment. I’ll be making a trip there in January. I managed to get a super cheap flight on Northwest Airlines to Tokyo. 400,000 won return, all inclusive!

    The Japan visa is a bit of a mission. Apparently you need to apply for it in person – no exceptions. I phoned them to confirm. But I’ve heard that you can possibly do the whole thing in one day, if you have all the documents and you get there first thing in the morning.

    Here’s what you’ll need (verbatim from an email from the embassy):

    REQUIREMENT for JAPAN VISA

    You are kindly required to submit the following documents

    1.Visa application form( attached ) with one photo and a passport

    2.Certificate of employment original or Copy of contract

    3.Re-entry permit issued by Korea immigration office

    4.Copy of alien registration card

    5.Copy of bankbook(Updated and deposited the salary and more 2million KRW)

    6.The reason of entry and the detailed schedule(written freely)

    7.A flight booking(not a ticket) and hotel reservation

    Application time is from 9:30~11:30am, 1:30~4:00pm. (mon~friday)

    After reviewed REQUIREMENTS by a Japanese consul , some extra documents may require so that to going on visa examination. The processing time needs about 1 or 2days. Visa fee is 25,000won.

    Consulate of Japan in Seoul

    146-1 7F LeeMa B/D Susong-dong Jongno-gu Seoul
    Tel:739-7400 Fax:739-7410 visa@japanem.or.kr

  7. I solved my bread problems after my first trip back home to SA. I bought an obscene amount of crushed wheat, bran and oats (all from good old Pick ‘n Pay), doctored my Granny’s wholewheat recipe a little (active dry yeast readily available) and baked my own. If anybody wants the recipe, I’m more than willing to share. 🙂 It only has to rise once and from start to finish takes two hours, and bakes like a dream in a gas oven. (wendyvw@hotmail.com)

  8. To the chocoholic: Rumour has it (reliable rumour 😉 ) there’s an underground shop in Seoul that stocks Ozzie Cadburys. Homeplus has also stocked double packs of the mini bars from time to time.

  9. Hi Wendy

    Thanks for all the comments and advice.

    Just to add to what you said, I also found some Australian Cadbury choccies at a foreign food shop in Coex Mall. Definitely worth checking out!

    TB

  10. Hi
    Is anyone out there I need to connect with South Africans in Icheon.
    Dawn

  11. Hi Dawn.
    I will be arriving on the 31st March in Icheon.

    So I will also be looking to meet some people and make this transition easier.

    😉

  12. Hi Dawn

    I will also be arriving in Icheon around the 12th of April. Any useful comments on living an teaching in Icheon? Thanks

    😉

  13. Hello everyone, I will be arriving in Icheon at the end of May, most likely. I’m from the U.S., but looking to meet some English speaking folks there. I’ve never been to Korea. Feel free to contact me.

  14. Howzit fellow South Africans This is my first week in Korea and boy its darn hard hey? The hardest is being away from loved ones and all that is familiar. The relaxed atmosphere of home where it alright for a lady to sip on some wine and light up eish! Well i guess adaptations the name of the game.Speaking of adaptors anyone know where i can get my hands on a universal adaptor for my laptop??

    Anyway enjoy the whole experience and when u”r very blue do what i do tell yourself this is NOT forever – so chill! mway everyone till nxt tym.

  15. Hi Amelia I too am looking for an adaptor.
    Have not found one yet.

    Getting aound power point can be hard when it is all in korean and you need to prepare lessons.

    Let me know if you need help.

    Jonathan based in ganghwa(incheon)

  16. Hey beautiful ppl im arriving in chungnam province the 18th of august and was hoping to meet up with sum of my fellow south africans bt generally just any english speaking folk that wud b able 2 guide me around etc! And o does any1 knw approx hw much money in rands i wud need in order to survive my 1st mnth and hey its madibas bday 2day lotsa love tanya frm sunny cape town!

    • Hi

      Good luck with all your preparations for Korea. I’m sure you’ll find lots of South Africans around. I had three in my town!

      For the first month, you’d need between R3,000 and R5,000 to survive. This is about 500,000 to 700,000 korean won. You’ll find more details on this page: https://safkorea.wordpress.com/money/

      Hope that helps!

      TB

  17. It’s funny how I stumbled on this website – I was googling for Korean supermarkets in Cape Town as I’ve just moved here for an internship. I gotta say I’m impressed by the meat section of the supermarkets in SA. It completely overshadows the veggie section (I think the reverse is true in Asia)! Rice being the staple, it’s hard to find decent non-spongy bread in Asia. Well, wines here are super cheap, braais are awesome – I’m definitely loving it here! Hope you enjoy your stay in Korea!

    • Hi Kay!

      Thanks for the message!

      Did you find a Korean supermarket in Cape Town? There’s one on Main Road in Observatory, opposite the MacDonald’s. There’s also a great Korean restaurant called Naksaeng in Seapoint.

  18. Hey I’m deciding on coming to South-Korea end Jan/Feb!!! Is there any South-Africans in,Kangnam-gu, Seoul? want to find out a few things please let me know!!!

    • Hi Somari! I’m sure there are plenty of South Africans around in Kangnam (aka Gangnam). Try on the Facebook group as well here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=2309967428

      What do you want to find out about Kangnam? It’s a pretty snazzy part of Seoul. Definitely one of the better parts of the city to live in.

      I’ve been there a few times, so let me know what you’re interested in finding out, and maybe I can help.

      TB

  19. Hi Everyone,

    I am going to teach English at the ILS in Icheon at the beginning of May. Feels very daunting as I know nothing of the City. If there are fellow expats (South African or other) in Icheon that I can get into contact with before I leave that would be great!

    Megs

  20. Hi there.

    I am coming to Daejeon in February 2012. Never been in Korea and doing this trip on my own.. If anybody is interested in connecting please let me know..

    juanri.topham@gmail.com

  21. Hi. I am in Busan South Korea and need to buy an adapter for my Laptop. It’s a 3 pin south african plug and I need an adapter ASAP for Korea. Where can I buy one urgently? I also need it to work in Jeonnam. Thanks! Please email me on k.lazarus@me.com

  22. Hi Kyleigh,

    I just wanted to know what your solution was to the three prong plug situation?? I also urgently need one!!

  23. Hey I just moved to korea pretty recently too and I was living in a goshiwon before but I wanted my own place and was having a pretty hard time with my house search 😦 but i happened to stumble upon korestate.com and they were really helpful! I think they’re a pretty new company (?) because not everything was perfect and it took some time to find the perfect place but in the end i found something pretty close to my school and within my budget! I would totally recommend using them if you’re looking for a place in korea.

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