Can anyone tell me anything about Korea?

(14 Posts)
louisea Thu 16-Feb-12 22:09:20

DH has potentially been offered a job for a couple of years in Korea (don't yet know where) followed by a few years in Perth, Aus. DTs are in Year 8 and DD in Year 4. The move would probably be in September 2012.

This is a job that DH really wants but we've just come back to the UK (July 2011) having spent 3 years in Qatar so I need to be sure that moving is the right thing to do as we would be committing to something in the order of 8 years away in total.

I should add that DH is currently employed and his job is not in jeopardy. The job on offer is one that was not available at the time we returned to the UK otherwise we would probably now be in Paris followed by Korea.

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Planetofthegrapes Fri 17-Feb-12 05:19:48

Shipbuilding for oil industry company by any chance?

In Korea and DH has mentioned Perth in future!!

twolittlebundles Fri 17-Feb-12 06:41:12

sounds as though you will be in one of the larger cities then.

I lived there 10 years ago. It is a very safe country, very little crime, with great public transport and it is fairly cheap. Books are expensive, and western food can be expensive to buy fresh. You often have to buy it in department stores.

It is a patriarchal society; girls look after their parents and the home and aim to be fashion designers(!) dentists, teachers, nurses. The US army has a highly visible presence and there is a level of simmering discontent as the soldiers are generally young and known for their drinking.

In Korean schools, kids study from 8.30 - 3.30 and then go study schools for further classes until (depending on age) 9pm at night. They also study until mid afternoon on Saturdays. There is a lot of pressure to succeed from a very young age.

There is a double standard with regard to employment- Koreans often get fired with no notice and cannot protest, whereas International employees get great benefits- better money, more holidays etc etc.

People are private- you would tend to make few Korean friends, and in the year I was there none of my colleagues were invited to a Korean house, so it pays to build good ex-pat friendships.

Population density is very high, (50 million people in a small country) but there are some lovely places to get away if you can arrange transport.
Family is very important and in many families (though many women work), it is a bit 1950's in division of labour, and certainly 1950's in terms of social and sex education - if a girl kisses a boy, she would expect a very serious relationship. Sex=marriage.

Korea is a great place to live well, and it is incredibly easy to learn to read Korean (much harder to understand it and speak it fluently), so if you know what a few key words are you can manage quite well. English is widely spoken.

Hope this is useful and good luck with your decision smile

Planetofthegrapes Fri 17-Feb-12 07:37:13

Back from school.

I would agree with most of twolittlebundles points - except where I live in the South, at the moment, there is little US army presence.

Many expats have good support from their companies via an agent who can arrange housing, help with paying utility bills, getting a driving license and visa documentation sorted. Medical care is of a high standard (apart from mental health care, Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the industrial world). Some expats are on good packages and have a high standard of living with several holidays a year.

Most expat children would go to an international school which would have normal western school hours. Some bus for long distances (I have heard the case of an Aussie 3 year old put on a 45 minute-long school bus journey). In some areas there may be an 'foreigners' compound near the 'international school'.

Korean people are polite and crime is low. Driving standards poor. Public transport is cheap (about 70p for an adult bus fare across the city with free bus change-over within 1 hour). Taxis are cheap and plentiful. Making yourself understood to a taxi driver may be problematic. Finding addresses is difficult as buildings are numbered in the order they are built, in an area and not on the road they are on. Many rely on Sat Navs to get around.

Some western food is available in local supermarkets such as Homeplus (Tesco) and Emart. Many make trips to the nearest Costco to stock up on meat, cheese and other bits and bobs.

Koreans are proud of their heritage and culture. They like socialising in restaurants and bars - eating out (Korean food) and alcohol (beer and soju) are cheap. Western restaurants such as TFI Fridays and Outback are expensive. Italian food is popular but may not be authentic (sweet garlic bread!).

Weather is more extreme than in UK say, with cold dry winters and hot humid summers. Pollution can be bad, and there is a "yellow dust" season in the early spring (dust blown in from Gobi desert).

The majority of Koreans are thin and fit (hiking is a very popular recreational activity). You'll see lots of outdoor exercise stations in the town and country parks. It's difficult to buy ladies clothes if you are above a size 12 and size 6 feet, and Korean "stylee" clothes and shoes may not be to your taste. There are some western stores such as Gap and M&S in the big cities but their clothes are generally more expensive then the UK. Bring a supply of bras and antiperspirant (apparently 50% Koreans don't have sweat glands).

Being able to read Korean helps. There are free Government Korean classes for foreigners.

Hope this helps.

twolittlebundles Fri 17-Feb-12 08:05:34

Planet I had forgotten about the clothing issue and deodorant! yes- if you have hips at all, come prepared with clothes- jeans in particular as they are very hard to find in sizes 12 and up! Shoes are generally not great either.

Bring tampons/mooncup too unless you are happy with pads only, as tampons are hard to come by.

Planetofthegrapes Fri 17-Feb-12 08:21:59

Jeans...skinny jeans (the skinnier the better), stripy tops and tottering heels are the current "look". I could only just fit into the largest jeans that Gap had - and I'm a 10/12 in jeans!

Childrens' clothes are also a bit odd for western tastes. Plenty of 'Hello Kitty" stuff though.

louisea Sun 19-Feb-12 00:50:10

Planetoftherapes is it that obvious? Actually it would be for the Oil company, not the contractor. Seems now as though the move to Perth is no longer on the cards and the job in Geoje would be for 3 years.

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SeoraeMaeul Sun 19-Feb-12 02:38:59

Lived in Seoul for 2 years (no guesses for where based on my nickname!)and as a family we still miss it. I would agree with everything here but would also like to throw in the hair cut issue - if you are blonde and have highlights assume you will go "yellow" and get a good haircut before you go because for the next few years you will only ever get "same stylee"

We did make a lot of Korean friends but they were people who had studied in the States or Europe and then moved back. We found that people were really friendly especially with the kids, and in many cases would go out of there way to help when our appalling Korean failed us.

Good luck with the decision - and practise your Karaoke singing

Planetofthegrapes Sun 19-Feb-12 04:22:17

.......not same project OP, we are on the other side of Busan.

I've heard things about Goeje having a good expat community. I'm guessing your DCs would go to Okpo International School. I don't know if children bus to Busan for school from Goeje.

SeoraeMaeul, we have Toni and Guy hairdressing at very reasonable prices! However, some ladies prefer to bring supplies of their hair colour with them and get their hair done locally.

SeoraeMaeul Sun 19-Feb-12 11:55:53

Planetofthegrapes - Toni and Guy were awful in Seoul! But glad to hear they are better elsewhere
Busan is lovely - we use to take the fast train down for long weekends. Thats another good thing louisea the traffic jams can be legendary but the train is great and as a country there are so many places to go visit - from beaches, countryside, mountains to temples and cities.

louisea Sun 19-Feb-12 23:35:32

I think that we've pretty much decided that DH is going to take the job providing his current line manager releases him. We still need to check on availability of school places. That's about the only thing holding us back at the moment.

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Planetofthegrapes Mon 20-Feb-12 05:04:31

I understand that the International Schools have links to the big companies and are aware of projects coming up, so there should not be any difficulty in school places.

louisea Mon 20-Feb-12 07:40:42

Thanks for that. That is exactly how it worked in our previous posting. Some companies pre-paid for places in a couple of the schools in order to ensure their families could get their kids in.

So, does anyone have any specific knowledge about Busan Foreign International School?

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Planetofthegrapes Thu 23-Feb-12 06:18:12

Relocated school, new buildings with great facilities. Encourages independant thought. Provides lunch. Fees and sports uniform considered expensive.

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