Seoul search­ing in a 24/7 city

Tim Clau­son moved to Seoul and loves life in a city that’s al­ways buzzing.

Sunday Star-Times - Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

What is your full name and where are you from?

Tim Clau­son, from Pukekohe

What in­spired your move, and how long have you been there?

Ini­tially, it was just an op­por­tu­nity to work and travel for a year. Now I’m go­ing on four years.

What do you do there?

I teach English at the Bri­tish Coun­cil, a branch of the UK gov­ern­ment. In my spare time, I study Korean.

What are the great­est ad­van­tages to liv­ing there?

Korea is a 24/7 coun­try. For that rea­son, ev­ery­thing is very con­ve­nient and of­ten right on your doorstep. Com­pared to New Zealand, the cost of liv­ing is a lit­tle bit cheaper; a ride across Seoul on one of the 16 sub­way lines will cost you lit­tle more than a dol­lar. Once you get off, it is pos­si­ble to trans­fer to a bus for a sub­stan­tial dis­count on the same fare.


The pop­u­la­tion den­sity is much higher than that of New Zealand, and so it takes some time to get used to hav­ing less green space and more peo­ple around you all the time.

How ex­pen­sive is it com­pared to New Zealand? How much is a beer?

Lo­cally pro­duced beer can be much cheaper when com­pared with New Zealand. Most con­ve­nience stores (24/7) sell four large cans of beer for about $10. Imported beer can be a lit­tle more ex­pen­sive, though.

What do you do in your spare time?

I like to ride my bi­cy­cle along the Han river.

What’s the lo­cal del­i­cacy and would you rec­om­mend eat­ing it?

There are so many op­tions to choose from, de­pend­ing on which area you visit. Like live oc­to­pus, for ex­am­ple. Try any­thing once, and live to tell the tale!

Eas­i­est way to get around?

Sub­way/bus/taxi in­te­grated via the traf­fic card sys­tem. For longer jour­neys, ex­press buses de­part ev­ery 5-15 min­utes to all cor­ners of Korea.

What’s the shop­ping like?

A+. Shop un­til you drop at tra­di­tional mar­kets or high-end malls, and any­thing in be­tween.

Best after-dark ac­tiv­ity?

Dur­ing the sum­mer, dine or drink out­side.

Best time of year to visit?

Septem­ber to Oc­to­ber. Avoid the sum­mer heat and hu­mid­ity, but en­joy the warmth be­fore win­ter sets in.

What are the top three things you rec­om­mend for vis­i­tors?

1) The DMZ, the bor­der shared be­tween North and South Korea. Truly unique. 2) Fly into Seoul, take a train or bus to Bu­san, the se­cond largest and coastal city in the south. 3) Take a day trip to hike one of the many moun­tains sur­round­ing the cities.

Be­sides fam­ily and friends, what do you miss most about home?

The food.

How easy is it for you to get back to NZ?

Very easy. I live near nu­mer­ous sub­way lines, which take me to In­cheon air­port. From there, it’s a di­rect 11-or-so hour flight to Auck­land.

For Ki­wis look­ing to move there, which in­dus­tries are seek­ing fresh tal­ent?

Teach­ing English is al­ways at­tract­ing new peo­ple. Engineers, busi­ness peo­ple, and diplo­mats can also be found in good num­bers.

If you know an ex­pat who wants to share in­side knowl­edge of their home away from home, email es­cape@star­ with Ex­pat in the sub­ject line.


In Korea, you’re never far from a moun­tain.


A trip to the bor­der be­tween North and South Korea is highly rec­om­mended.


There are many his­tor­i­cal sites and at­trac­tions to visit in Seoul.

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