Top tips for moving to Seoul

10 Aug 2011

Though Seoul has great economic and financial clout, it is a difficult city to move to because of the language and culture. Our guide this week covers basic services that will hopefully equip you with enough information to make settling in easier. 



Most passport holders can apply for a tourist visa for up to 90 days. To stay 91 days or more, visitors must apply for the "foreign registration", which is valid for one year and can be renewed. The application must be submitted within 90 days of arrival. Work visa can be applied for at embassies or consulates outside of South Korea and the process takes two to four weeks. For more information, visit



  • Seoul Call Centre

The call centre, “Dasan 120”, offers services for expatriates in Chinese, English and Japanese, providing detailed information about Seoul. Dial 120 (02-120 from cell phones and outside Seoul) and press 9 for foreign language services. The service is applicable during business hours only, 0900-1800, Monday to Friday.

Alternatively, the Korea Tourism Organisation's hotline runs around the clock for information on the city (+82 2 1330) and dial 2 for English. The Seoul Global Centre also provides helpful information on almost anything specifically for foreigners moving to Seoul. Users can either call +82 2 2075 4130 or visit their website,

Relocation and moving companies

  • Asian Tigers Korea

Asian Tigers Korea is a one-stop shop for worldwide moving, settling-in and departure, and home-finding services. The firm is a branch of the Asian Tigers Group, which has an extensive network of relocation service providers in 13 countries across Asia. For more information, visit

  • Pumex International Movers

Pumex was established in 1986 and today the company has expanded to 1,800 branches and agents around the world. Designated staff will monitor the status of the household goods during the move and, upon completion of work, call the customer to check the degree of satisfaction and arrange necessary repair. For more information, visit


Supermarkets with imported foodstuff 

  • The Foreign Food Mart

Located near the Itaewon Station, the Foreign Food Mart sells a wide range of foreign food stuff, from all kinds of spices and seasonings to meat and pasta. Online shopping capability and delivery service are provided. For more information, visit

Location: 137-8, Itaewon Dong, Jungeun Building, Yongsan Gu, Seoul

Tel: 02 793 0082

  • Haddon Supermarket

Located at Oksu-dong, Haddon Supermarket also offers a range of imported food items, from canned varieties to Thanksgiving turkeys, as well as a selection of wines.

Location: Hannam Heights Apt. B1, 220-1 Oksu-dong, Songdong-gu, Seoul

Tel: 02 794 0511

  • Costco

The American general warehouse store chain has a branch in Seoul, selling almost anything in bulk and for cheap, from clothing to fresh meat. For more information, visit

Location: 65, 3-ga, Yangpyung-dong, Youngdeungpo-gu, Seoul

Tel: 02 2679 1234



Medical Centres

  • ASAN International Clinic 

TThe international clinic at ASAN Medical Centre provides extensive medical services to foreign patients only, including inpatient, outpatient and emergency care. For more information, visit

  • Yonsei University Health System (Yonsei)

Yonsei is renowned among locals and consists of two international health care centres, Severance and Gangnam Severance. The Severance Hospital offers a primary-care clinic and a women's clinic for obstetrics and gynecology. The Gangnam Severance Hospital provides psychiatric care, inpatient services, immunisation, insurance claims and emergency service. In total, there are 23 clinical departments and eight specialized centres with staff members fluent in English, Japanese, Chinese and French. For more information, visit

  • Emergency Medical Information Center

Dial 1339 connects users to an English-speaking doctor for medical information in emergency situations, round the clock. Dial 02-1339 if you call from a mobile phone or other parts of South Korea.


Educational facilities

  • Seoul International School (SIS)

SIS is an international school with an American-based curriculum. It was founded in 1973 and became the first foreign school to be fully recognised by the country's Ministry of Education. There are currently 1,100 students enrolled for programmes ranging from elementary to high school. The school's well equipped with facilities for technology, fine arts, music and sports. For more information, visit

  • Seoul Foreign School (SFS)

SFS is also based on the American curriculum from kindergarten to high schools, but it provides a British division that follows the English National Primary Strategy and National Curriculum from primary to early secondary school. International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and the International Baccalaureate diploma (IB programme) courses are also offered. For more information, visit



 Domestic help is expensive in South Korea. Nonetheless, information about English-speaking maids can be obtained from Dasan 120 or from the Seoul Global Centre.


Driving license

South Korea recognises international licences from other nations, but validity is limited to one year and upon expiration, the document cannot be renewed locally. Instead, the driver must apply for a Korean licence by presenting a residence card or foreign registration card with the old licence at the Drivers' License Agency in the Seoul Global Centre.

Location: Seoul Global Centre, 3F, Seoul Press Centre, 124 Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul

Tel: 02-2075-4127

Hazel Ho

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