Your Guide to "The Korean Winter".
Whether you're visiting or planning to live and work in Korea you should prepare yourself for the icy "Korean Winter". If you're like me and come from a place where the temperature and weather aren't too extreme, I'm here to help you! This one's for the cold folks!
Here are some tips on how to survive the Korean Winter and how I got through! Let's begin!
So you’re probably thinking “It’s just winter” and “No big deal”, “it will be fine” and it will be, optimism is key but you do need to be prepared especially if you don’t do too well in cold temperatures and/or get sick easily. Mentally prepare yourself to layer up, take off those layers when you get inside, walk around in the snow/rain/wind, and also potentially bear resemblance to a super filled 김밥 (kimbap). If you’re not used to layering up and like to dress cute for the winter, (this can also be a battle, I can speak to this), I think the main thing to focus on is being healthy, comfortable, and warm! So I say be cute and healthy! It’s really important to know your physical tolerances and mentally prepare yourself before arriving! So plan, plan, plan, and just be warm!
As I said before on some occasions you may or may not look like a kimbap roll.
Layering is so important when the temperatures drop! The Koreans have their "long padding" which can be a lifesaver! These are also known as puffer jackets, however, I believe the longer variations are more familiar in Korea! Another important clothing item to know is "Heat Tech" layers which can be purchased at shops such as Top10 or UNIQLO. These are also known as thermals and can come in the form of t-shirts, long-sleeve tops, and long leggings to wear under your clothing. I would also really recommend gloves and scarves and if you really need, boots to walk around in the snow.!
Check out "Heat Tech" by UNIQLO here.
Grab a Jjigae or soup!
If you're in Korea or not - I'd recommend you have a nice hot soup for lunch on a cold day! One thing that I like about Korean culture is the way they approach food. Usually, each dish has a significant meaning or time it should be eaten and each generally touches on some sort of positive feeling.
Here is a list of Korean soups to have during the winter season:
Samgyetang - Ginseng chicken soup
Seolleongtang - Beef bone broth
Kimchi Jjigae - Kimchi stew
Sundae Gukbab - Sundae soup with rice
Doenjang Jjigae - Fermented soybean paste stew
Miyeok Guk - Seaweed soup
Sundubu Jjigae - Soft tofu stew
These are just a few off the top of my head! There are many, many more! Just Google "Korean Soups"!
Go to a Healing Cafe
I've talked about healing foods in Korea before! Check it out HERE! Healing cafes are cafes you can visit to feel relaxed and rejuvenated! They usually have foot spas and massage chairs that you can sit in for an hour and then have a nice beverage at the end! I'd recommend a lovely chamomile tea for an extra calm feeling. These are good for the winter, and even after a tough day!
Check out Namsan Tower or take a nice walk somewhere!
If you want a breathtaking, "Crystal Snow" view of Seoul covered in a glimmering blanket of snow check out Namsan Tower and the view from the top! You don't have to go into the tower to enjoy the view. It can be cold but it's also a nice time to breathe some fresh air! Be careful while walking in the snow!
Last but not least...
Stay Indoors and have a Vin Chaud
(with your TV, laptop, or phone playing fireplace sounds on YouTube!)
Something really popular in Korea was the use of fireplace videos on YouTube! So popular and a little problematic in that people often called the fire department thinking that someone's house was on fire after seeing the fire screen through their window! Read more HERE.
Vin chaud is also known as mulled wine! As Christmas approaches you can purchase vin chaud kits to make at home!
If you don't drink fear not the convenience stores in Korea stock hot beverages during the winter, including some that are good for your health!
Extra Pro Tip: "Hot Packs"
The convenience store also has small little hand hot packs you can buy. Usually, all you need to do is shake these and wait for it to heat up! They can get very hot so be careful of your hands and if you leave them in your pocket be careful of them melting or changing the shape of the things in your pocket because it gets very hot! Trust me I've had a few slightly melted bank cards!
If you're coming to Korea in the Winter we'd really love for you to have the best and safest experience! The above are a few things we could think of for you to thrive in the wintertime! The best thing is to stay cute and healthy! Remember cute and healthy! Comment below any other tips you have to survive the winter!