Seoul searching in a 24/7 city
Tim Clauson moved to Seoul and loves life in a city that’s always buzzing.
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?
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.