CultureKorea Guide

Want to Move to Korea? Think Again!

Korea Guide
Aug 2, 2024
Moving to Korea requires careful consideration of visa processes, language and cultural fluency, building meaningful relationships, adapting to the Korean way of life, and being aware of the foreigner status. Thorough research, networking, and participation in activities are recommended before making the decision to move.
Newsletter DNK
Newsletter DNK


If you're a fan of Korean dramas, K-Pop, or have had the pleasure of visiting Korea as a tourist or during an exchange semester, you might find yourself instilled with the idea of moving to Korea permanently. However, it's essential to be aware of the realities that come with moving to Korea.

Understanding the Visa Process

One of the first hurdles you will face is the visa issue. Korea does not have many easy options for long-term immigration. There are only a handful of options available, most of them being short or medium term (1-2 years). It's important to realize it's not easy for foreigners to work in Korea unless they have unique skills in new industries and the experience that would make a company hire them over a local Korean candidate.

Language and Cultural Fluency

Another vital aspect to consider is the language and cultural barrier. It's necessary to become fluent in the Korean language and also understand the implicit social cues within their culture. Even though you want to believe that English will be sufficient in a metropolitan city such as Seoul, many places still only offer Korean Menus, and not everyone can understand or speak English. Integration into Korean society requires effort and understanding. It can be challenging to build relationships if you're constantly in need of translation.

Building Meaningful Relationships

Building meaningful relationships is another aspect that can be challenging. While people in Korea are generally polite, being invited into their social circles or being introduced to their friends is an honor that should not be taken lightly. But building these relationships takes time, and one should be proactive, patient, and respectful of the cultural norms and engage in many activities that connect you with Koreans and dive deeper into the culture in building relationships.

Adapting to the Korean Way of Life

Adaptation is key when moving to any new country. Sometimes, the ways things are done in Korea might not make sense to you, especially if they try to apply your home country's logic. It's essential to remember that you are no longer in your home country and things will not be the same. Understanding this will help you adapt better to your new surroundings. You don’t know how many times I have gotten frustrated with how things are with immigration or the banking system. But upon reflecting on how things are in my home country, Germany, where I put myself into some of my foreign friends’ shoes, I understand the complexity of immigration offices in general and that being an immigrant in any country will come with its challenges. You will feel better when you just accept “This is how it is done here!”

You will always be a Foreigner

Finally, it's important to be aware that you will always be perceived as a foreigner in Korea. The country has a very low percentage of immigrants, and beyond areas like Itaewon or Gangnam in Seoul, most foreigners are factory workers outside of Seoul. Despite being fluent in Korean or even if you grew up there, your first impression will likely be that of a foreigner if you don't appear ethnically Korean. People will compliment your Korean language skills and ask you where you are from for a very long time, and you might get frustrated with answering the same questions daily. Which will not change any time soon. Most Koreans will think of foreigners as tourists or guests and not yet part of daily life.


In conclusion, moving to Korea is a significant decision that requires thorough consideration. While it can be an adventure, understanding potential challenges is crucial. Living in Korea offers many benefits, such as safety and a vibrant fast-paced lifestyle. However, you should also be prepared for cultural differences and the unique Korean way of life. Before making the move, conduct extensive research and seek advice from those who have lived there. Expand your network during tourist visits and participate in various activities to be sure to call Korea home.

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About the Author

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Kim Ninja (Huy-Kim Nguyen)
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