Is Seoul a Good City for an Expat to Live?

On the television this morning was a programme about the top ten cities in Asia for expats to live in. It wasn’t a particularly well made programme and I got the impression that it was segments from a collection of programmes pulled together under the rather weak connection that they dealt with  expats in  other Asian cities. Of course, there’s plenty of problems with this kind of competition, namely that the majority of those described as expats were Caucasian and in well paid positions, and in several cases the people were merely English teachers.

Anyway, the hit list goes like this:

  1. Georgetown, Malaysia*
  2. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  3. Bangkok, Thailand*
  4. Taipei, Taiwan
  5. Macau, China
  6. Hong Kong, China*
  7. Osaka, Japan*
  8. Tokyo, Japan
  9. Kobe, Japan
  10. Singapore, Republic of Singapore

(*Just a little side note to point out that I’ve visited these cities)

It being a Korean programme I was assuming that sooner or later Seoul or Songdo would end up. Now, I’ve never lived in Taiwan but seeing as Bangkok and Taipei were so high up the list, which I don’t really know much about, but I’m pretty sure Seoul is way better (of course this is editorial bias). My doubts on the quality of the list really started to rise when Hong Kong was in fifth place, and then there were two Japanese cities, Tokyo and Osaka, in third and fourth. Of course there could only be one winner but seeing Kobe in second was a shock, not to the point of anger or anything, just an ‘oh’ kind of shock.

The programme gave plenty of reasons for Seoul to be included – many of the cities in the top ten did things such as welcoming foreigners, teaching them to speak the language, cultural lessons, great public transport, all of which Seoul does. And, you should really take into consideration that the programme didn’t really offer a rubric for rating these cities

Watching this raised the question, is Seoul a good place for expats to live?

Well, it depends on which way you look at it. Allow me to give you both sides of the argument based on my own experience.

The ‘yes’ side of the coin

When I first moved to Seoul in 2005, I was young, single and earning too much money. I lived the life, going out several nights a week, eating in good restaurants, travelling around the country, and after my first contract I managed to afford a three month trip around Asia, return flights to Ireland and then spent two months sitting on my arse. It was great. I felt like king of the world. When I came back I wasn’t single but still managed pretty well, and I still do after living, working, and coping here for the past few years.

Based on six years of living in Korea, life is, all and all, very convenient. I’ve had my ups and downs, but there has been nothing necessarily overly negative which could be described as only an expat problem – like in work, if there was a problem I soon got the idea that whatever my problems were my Korean co-workers had it a lot worse.

As a place to live, Seoul does have everything you could need. The public transport is exceptional and very affordable and there is little need to own a car. Taxis also provide a very reliable service, there being exceptions on a driver-by-driver basis of course.

There is great food and an uncountable number of restaurants serving all kinds of food. This is not limited to only Korean food; Japanese restaurants are everywhere, as are Italian, Chinese, and there is an increasing number of decent fast food places and other ethnic restaurants gaining popularity. And, if you go to any of the popular social spots around the city you will find the variety extensive and satisfying to not only your pocket, but also your wallet.

You can get anything delivered to your door and often within a few days. You can get what you’re delivering collected and delivered to the door hassle free.  I’ve never heard of any other western country provide any form of comparable service and I would wager that a relatively large portion of the economy relies on this industry on a day-to-day basis. If you have ever had to use any major courier service you will know the frustrations that are involved with these.

As for take-away, the service is prompt and hassle free. Even if you can’t speak Korean all you need to know is your address and what you want to eat, and before you sit down to pick your nose as you wait there will be a knock at your door and your food will have arrived hot and tasty.

Supermarkets sell all kinds of food, and while the prices have been increasing over the past year, many neighbourhoods have local fruit and veg markets where prices are still very low, and the same can be said for meat and fish. The vast majority of food has a picture on it so you know what it is you are buying. There is bread, dairy, herbs, spices, beer and wine all available in varying degrees of quality.

There are newspapers, magazines, television, and films all in English. There is a wealth of sports teams functioning at all levels of enthusiasm for any visitor. There are professional organisations, clubs, societies and volunteering opportunities. There is a fantastic and diverse countryside waiting for you to explore. Korea has, for want of a better word, everything.

Like any country or place, when you move here you have to learn how to do things such as how to pay bills, how to pay taxes (and how to claim them back), how to sort things out in the bank, and a whole list of other things. Sure, understanding the language helps but often you can get by relatively easily. A tried and tested strategy is to go in and act desperate and stupid and the decency and sense of duty most people have takes over, and things get worked out in the end. This isn’t something specific to Korea, I’ve used it in the UK and the US with very satisfactory results, namely I survived to tell the tale.

Of course, every place has problems but like any the headphones treatment works wonders. If things on the street bother me I give it the old Richard Ashcroft treatment, minus the shouldering and jumping over cars, by plugging in my headphones, turning up the volume and just walking by it all. It’s not my problem and it won’t make my life any better or worse if I do involve myself.

I could say more but will only offer a brief summary. I am happy here to a certain extent. I have a good job that I enjoy a lot and which offers new opportunities on a daily basis. I live in a very comfortable home which I enjoy returning to every night and don’t mind spending long hours in (this wasn’t the case over a year ago). My neighbourhood is quiet, pleasant and within walking distance of everything we ask for. I have a wonderful wife who cares for me and looks after me far too much.

I, like many people, have made my home here happily in Korea.


The ‘no’ side of the coin.

When I first moved to Seoul in 2005 I was oblivious to much of what was going on around me. Wide eyed from the wonders around me and the generally positive experience I had enjoyed in Korea, much passed over me for about three years. It wasn’t until I was married that I started to understand more about Korea and whether or not it would serve as a place that I could live in and raise a family.

When I came back to Korea several friends of mine had recently started young families, and within a year most of them have left Korea and moved back to their home country. The reasons for this can essentially be boiled down to the fact that many expats in Korea do not see Korea as a healthy place to raise a family.

Of course, it might be considered that I am automatically talking about the high levels of pollution. But that’s easily avoided by moving out of the city. What I am talking about is what I see as things that just shouldn’t be the way they are and for them to be considered normal is wrong. For Koreans, who are generally proud of whom they are, their history, their food, their language, and many other aspects of their culture, it is the society which has created a very negative impression on me.

This is not a cultural debate. The issues I am going to mention here are social issues that have affected people very close to me, pointing to hypocrisy on a national level that has sunk into the national consciousness causing people to think that, generally speaking, it’s ok for these problems to fester.

There are several things that frustrate me about how social issues are dealt with here, and most obvious one is the complete lack of awareness raised in the public sphere. For example,iIf you explain to many Korean people, as I have, that Korea has the highest suicide rate in the OECD, many are unaware of this. I’ve even been offered reasoning along the lines that it’s because many celebrities have committed suicide. Regularly, the international press covers the issue Korea’s rising suicide rate however I know of only one person, Tom Coyner, who has raised this issue in the media in Korea. If there are more, then please let me know.

Without awareness, without people talking about it, without pressure on the government to do something about it, it will only get worse. Suicide is probably the biggest example of this and while it doesn’t affect many expats directly, it is a strong example of the lack of awareness raised on a serious social issue. If you can think of any other social issues which need to be addressed, it probably fails in comparison to this.

Personal safety is another thing that bothers me. Or I should say, the complete lack of respect for other people’s right to life, and even, I could say, a complete lack of recognition of the dangers people are coming close to on a daily basis. I get the feeling that most are willing to learn from their mistakes.

You can see this mostly on the roads. For example, on a daily basis I see scooters zig-zag between cars, its rider with no helmet, and then it flies through a red light. I don’t want to lecture on why this is wrong, I want to lecture on why do people not stand up and say stop? Why do the police only drive out on the roads and apprehend motorists after an accident has occurred? Are people afraid to step on someone’s toes to upset the status quo or do they not care? Because that’s what it seems like.

It’s my life I’m worried about because I don’t want to have to go to hospital because of someone else’s carelessness. Ffortunately I have never been sick , and I mean really sick, in Korea. Because the national health insurance does not provide for you, it only helps you get a prescription on the cheap which actually turns out to be Tylenol and a multi-vitamin.

But what enrages me, what really pisses me off, and what cannot be considered in anyway a cultural misunderstanding, is the outright discrimination of over 50% of the population. Women in Korea are essentially second class citizens who are judged firstly by their gender, and then by their age, and then by their appearance.

Idolised for the sexuality or worshipped for the care they deliver, all over Korea women are struggling to deal with men. Of all the people I meet in Korea it is women who leave the longest and most lasting impression on me. Not only are they strong willed, open-minded, intelligent, they are  over 50% of the population and discriminated on in a really petty and old-fashioned manner – essentially, men are better and stronger so you should do what you’re told. I get the impression that women have no other role in society than to feed the men and spread their legs, and then tidy up the mess.

I could write for hours about the injustices here, but allow me to give just short take on what the problem is here.  To give you an example of how women can be expected to live in Korea, read this article about a woman’s experience in her place of work when she got pregnant. I don’t believe this to be single case.

I have heard from students of mine that their mother is their hero, but then they turn around and say that their mother should stay in the home because that’s where they want them to be, there for them when they get home to cook them food and tell them they’re a good boy (and probably to scare their wife too). I have never asked them how they feel about their sisters, but surely this displays a complete lack of respect for their mother and a lack of understanding of human beings that the mother should only be there for the sons when they have a hard day.

Again, it’s about respecting other people, but more importantly the people who brought us into the world. I don’t think anyone should give up their life for anyone else. Expecting a mother to just mother is just selfish. Does she not have feelings and dreams herself? Does she not have skills and knowledge worth using to earn her own living? There’s more that I could say here, but I will finish by saying that there is no excuse for treating women as second to men, no excuse.

As a person who is married to a Korean woman I am entitled to be this angry. As a person who has experienced this discrimination with his wife I am entitled to be this angry. As a person who, one day, will hopefully have children who may grow up in this country I am entitled to be angry, because more than anything else, allowing this to be normal is wrong.

There may be plenty of expats who come to Korea and never think they witness this. Well open your eyes. It’s everywhere, from the Room Salons called cafés to the home where the mother cooks the dinner and cleans up all week long while the husband, kids and grandparents sit around watching TV.

Nowhere do you see this in Korea more often than in the capital, Seoul.

And that is why I do not think anywhere in Korea is good for an expat to live.

31 thoughts on “Is Seoul a Good City for an Expat to Live?

  1. one thing about expats marrying Koreans and decide to raise their family back in their home country opposed to Korea… it seems like to me that they’re escaping the reality, as much as bad things perpetuate there, it’s still a part of your children/future children’s heritage. For Korea to be more tolerant of having foreigners living in their countries they need more mixed children or foreigners living the same life as Koreans and experiencing what Koreans experience (for instance, school, social life etc). The main reason why Koreans sometimes don’t look at interracial families as being positive is that they know the families often have somewhere else to go back to and have the financial means to get out of Korean when something bad arises.
    If more people stayed in Korea with these different ideas and raise their children as a more open-minded individual who is able to see things in different perspectives but still experience what Koreans go through, they will be a key in changing Korea’s society in a positive way.
    It still makes me sad when I see so many bright young half-Korean, half-caucasian kids on television, only to find that they’re going to an International school for fear of getting discriminated or getting lower-standard education than the western world, or they’re going back to the US, England, New Zealand, Canada because they don’t feel like Korea will help these children grow up to be good individuals.
    Just think. The more people get out of Korea due to these different reasons, the longer it will take for Koreans to get adjusted and become more tolerant towards Interracial families or foreigners.


    • That’s a very good point you raised DP.

      I wish I knew if there were some statistics to show how many half-Korean kids were in public schools. Those I have met are in public schools, although only elementary. Of course being aware of their Korean heritage is important. I’m from Ireland and know how important my own heritage is but would never supplant it over my wife’s Korean culture. This is something that concerns us both a lot. Neither Ireland or Korea has a strong cultural connection in the other country.

      In terms of sending kids to international schools, that’s a better option than sending them to schools in Ireland, where I’m from, as they have excellent teachers and facilities, or so I’ve been told. But, those who go are the lucky ones – it can be up to and over ₩30,000,000 a year. I don’t know if kids have a better experience in a school abroad or in Korea public schools. Ireland has a similar exam based school curricullum as Korea although nowhere near as competitive and Ireland also has a reputation for discrimination – I think so anyway.

      There is one thing though that you may not have considered; it is my wife who is more adamant about not allowing this to happen than I am, and her parents support our decision. In fact, my own parents don’t see what would be wrong with raising a child here. But I actually don’t think that race based discrimination is that bad in Korea and that you can manage it if you approach it right. Many people are willing to be educated and enjoy being pleasantly surprised by some things.

      But I don’t think it’s safe for a child to walk around with careless construction, driving to fast inside apartment facilities, and a culture which fails to learn from others experiences and waits for problems to happen before any attempt is made to rectify them.

      I know that no country is perfect and would never suggest that any country is better than another.

      Anyway, thanks for your intelligent comment and adding to the discussion.


      • “a culture which fails to learn from others experiences and waits for problems to happen before any attempt is made to rectify them. ”
        but isn’t this what usually happens in other countries? Are there no history classes in western countries where students learn about a particular incident that happened in a country and how that country modified their laws or policies to make sure it does not happen again? How can Korea learn from others experience where there are no countries like Korea? Korea’s been following stuff from the US and Japan, esp on globalization or on education, but we all know it had some negative impact on Korean society and Korean’s quality of life. Even now Korea is debating on what kind of welfare system they should adapt to and whose system should they learn from: Europe? or the US? They talk about multicultural policies and whose they should adapt from: US or countries in Europe that are now not satisfied with their multicultural policies?

        Korea is a learning country. It’s not multicultural country nor has it started as one and it still has a long way to go before completely integrating foreigners into their society. It’s tough for foreigners to live there but things are sometimes even tougher for the ethnic Koreans. With the recent change in the law for defining sex offenders this year I can tell Korea is continually changing in positive ways. It will take some time.

        Sorry if I sounded critical, but I agree with your points too.
        In terms of schools, I think Korean public schools can be a good option if you go to a good one. I’ve heard that Daejeon has good schools and of course Seoul has good schools too. I’ve had a couple friends who have graduated from International schools and they have a lot of problem with establishing their cultural identity. Funny thing is they’re not mixed. They went to International schools in other countries (China, Thailand) and avoided the local public schools in that country to ensure they have a good education and can go to the US for college. Although they are very open minded, tolerant of other cultures and have a good educational background, they lived with so many kids all over the world without having much interaction with their own ethnic community and also with the locals in that country. They have told me that they feel out of place when hanging out with friends from their home countries. From these experiences I’m not sure if International schools provide the “right” environment for kids to learn in. My friends said International schools have segregations depending on what your heritage is and where you are from, and kids are very competitive on getting good grades, moreso than other public schools.

        Just another tidbit. I know many Koreans want to raise their children somewhere else, esp with Korea’s hard education system… but many mothers will realize, just like my mom, that living in a foreign country where they have no roots can be really hard. My mother often feels like letting me and my sister get our education outside of Korea provided us with many opportunities, but she herself feels lonely as all her family and friends are back in Korea. (and plus it’s harder for Korean women to find jobs in western countries other than secretary/cashier-related positions or cooking jobs)

        Sorry for leaving such a long post. I’m not accustomed to writing comments on blogs. I hope you have a good time in Korea!


  2. Well I assume that you’ve lived in other cities in Asia before, specifically the ones on your list, otherwise your point that Seoul is better is not only moot but utter bullshit too.


  3. Nice post.
    I miss Seoul, but little ol’ Daegu has changed a lot in the past five years (if my Korean and ex-pat friends are to be believed). If I didn’t like my job so much I’d probably look to live in Busan. Really lovely atmosphere there, great fresh seafood, and a much more “international” feel what with it being a port city and all.

    If I ever start a family I ask myself this — would I want to raise a daughter in South Korea? That answer? Absolutely not.

    As for suicide, I don’t think Koreans are in denial (how could they be, when most of them know of a relative or friend who has done it?) as much as it’s something they don’t like to talk to foreigners about. Kind of like North Korea, in my experience.

    As for other cities, Japan is awesome but so damn expensive. I lived in Osaka for a while. Good public transport, good food, but I’d have to doing something other than teaching to make a go of it there financially.

    Bangkok? Really? Thailand is great, but Bangkok is one of the dirtiest cities I’ve ever been do. Constantly being solicited for sex is another black mark. Also, hot.

    Although I have been wanting to visit Malaysia…


    • Fair enough. A bit of a generalisation. Allow me to elaborate.

      In some cases the people they profiled on the television programme were young, male, single, and American. They were employed as teachers of English, like I am, but they had only just arrived in the country and complained about the things like people not being able to speak English and other atrocities. In the rest and they spoke with people who had lived in the city for along time, or who had travelled a lot. They didn’t tell you this exactly but you could tell that this wasn’t a new experience. Many of the people worked in a variety of fields not related to English and in several cases they spoke with people from other countries, French and German I think (although they could have been Swiss…). Several of the people were parents too.

      So, my definition of ‘merely English teachers’ falls under the category of just off the boat and clueless, as opposed to the well used to dry land kind, many of whom live in Korea and have done so for many years. I think there’s a difference.


    • Hi Patrick, thanks for your comments. As far as I am aware each different job will have different qualification requirements, what you might need to be concerned about is whether or not you’ll need a visa. People live all over the place and don’t live in one particular area. Itaewon in Seoul is popular I suppose. I don’t live in Seoul, but in a city called Suwon about 40 minutes away, give or take. I am sorry but I can’t actually offer any advice on finding jobs, how much you can or should be paid, and whether or not the experience is better or worse than Hong Kong, Japan, or Taiwan.


  4. i think i might go there next week. where do all the expats hang out? are you in seoul? i know lots of folks in korea but dont know eher they live. i hosted many and many from china and japan and tawian and HK. i def want to check out hk. how much money do you think i can make?


  5. ok thanks. im going to be staying with some dudes in seouil in their tiny apts. might get a bit crowded for my tastes, hey do you think you might know siomeone who could rent me a small room? is suwon unpolluted? i hope there isfresh air there and lots of good cheap doctors and dentists. im 45 but i have a shitload of medial probs thats these greedy idiot quacks in nyc cant seem to want or able to fix. so im basically dying a slow painful death. i have small brain tumor too. life suxx basically for me.
    thanks in advance.


    • I’m not really in on the whole advising people on lifestyle choices, sorry. I’ve been here six years and I’m out of the loop in terms of knowing useful stuff for people who are only arriving, so sorry again. This blog is merely my take on things. I’ll answer what I can.

      Suwon seems to be less polluted than Seoul, although it’s a lot smaller. I lived in Seoul for four years, and there are big differences. Seoul is definitely more fun, but fun doesn’t come cheap. Where I live there’s a lot of construction and it can get quite dusty and the roads are dangerous because people regularly pay no attention to the traffic signals or other drivers. I drive here and it can be very unnerving. Not sure about the price of doctors and dentists, but it’s cheaper than Ireland. If you have a job I’m sure it can be more affordable as they should give you health insurance etc. I’m sure you’ll understand if I don’t pass on medical advice. But if you are coming to live here I’d suggest taking out a proper medical insurance policy (not the state one as that is pretty limited) just in case – I think it can be affordable enough.

      There are a whole host of better blogs and websites where people have given much better advice and will point you in the right direction, including some useful forums. One I would recommend is

      Hope that helps.


      • To Conor,

        I enjoy your posts. We are an international family with a 14yr girl going into high school and an 8 yr old boy going into grade 3. We currently live in Wash DC in a great area with great schools. My husband has a job opportunity in Seoul. It is a nice expat contract including private schools. My question to you: do you think it is a safe place for a teenager?

        Your comments about the dangers of driving were eye opening. How dangerous is it really? Can the kids play ball on the street or do you make playdates? My husband and I lived in Tokyo before we had kids and moved to Germany, South Africa and now US with our children. But Asia is a world they don’t know. Any feedback or advice? Kind regards, Paula


      • Hi Paula, thanks for the comment.

        I suppose driving is as dangerous as anywhere else, you just need to be especially vigilant and patient. I’ve been driving here for three years and I’m still not dead, so I suppose that’s a good thing. I can be a little testing sometimes but most people I know who drive here, while frustrated, don’t seem to be overly bothered by it.

        In terms of playing in the street, it wouldn’t be something you see to often, but there are plenty of small neighbourhood parks which are ideal, and if you live in an apartment complex (the newer the better) these are always very safe and friendly places to be. Plenty of kids and games. Streets are usually safe but you need to be especially vigilant as some things we take for granted aren’t even the norm – motorbikes on footpaths for example in Seoul.


  6. “And that is why I do not think anywhere in Korea is good for an expat to live.”

    You arrogant prick. How dare you presume to offer up such a comment for all expats and speak for me…? I’ve been here a damn sight longer that you and am fully aware of the inequalities, unfairness, discrimination, and lack of awareness here; I’m not blind, nor am I uncaring.

    However, everyone has to discern their own reasons for choosing where and how to live, and deal with any consequences. The issues you seem to think should preclude “any expat” from living in Korea are based on your own feelings, observations, and the complexities of your own nature/character; other people may/do not see things that way, and can differentiate between the social, ethical/moral, and cultural negativity that you seem unable to do – your little exercise in the ‘positives’ of life here that you so casually throw in to start the article.

    I suppose I shouldn’t expect much more from you – given the standard of your previous writing(s) that I have encountered here in Seoul (esp. the tripe you’ve written about life in Haebangchon…); I guess your 6 or so years here still haven’t been enough for you to grasp a fundamental fact about life here: we (the expats) are all different, and our knowledge, impressions, understanding, and acceptance (or lack thereof…) of the vagaries of life in this place we call home are based on individual situations…we learn, experience, and adapt, yet remains fully cognizant of the myriad aspects (good and bad) of choosing to dwell here.

    You may not think Korea/Seoul is such a great place for expats, but do not ever seek to impose your negativism on those of us who do!


    • I don’t I’ve ever implied that I speak for anyone but myself. If I think that Seoul isn’t a good place for expats to live, so what? It’s what I think. I would hope that anyone who reads this would go and consider more than why I think. And for what it’s worth, I don’t think it is a good place to live, regardless of whether or not you’re an expat or not. Sure, it’s getting better but only in certain quarters.


  7. Briony,

    You are actually the one who sounds like an arrogant prick, and alas your reading comprehension must be that of a year 2 student, as Conor wasn’t speaking for you and offered up no such comments on behalf of all expats.

    What a twat you must be. Let me know the country from which you originate and remind me to never go there…


  8. Reading this level of feminism and concern for women warms this feminist male’s heart… I bumped into this searching for Seoul and was pleasantly surprised with your writing… thanks.


  9. Firstly, I’d like to say that I enjoyed reading your article however I felt compelled to reply to your comments regarding gender inequality. While I don’t agree with any discrimination, I think it’s important to point out the obvious here; Koreans have a diffferent culture to people in the Western world. What many expats seem to do on a regular basis (this is not specific to Korea) is use their home country as a frame of reference, a “we are more developed therefore more evolved” mentality. We can take marriage as an example; in the Western world we base marriage on romantic love, whereas in many countries (including in many parts of Asia) marriage is seen as a way to strengthen families, hence why parents in Korea will try to set their children up with other “suitable” partners, or why in places such as India,arranged marriages are still common. Considering the high divorce rates in Western countries, it is surprising that attitudes towards marriage persist to be about romantic love, but it seems crazy to someone from those countries to marry on any other grounds. That doesn’t make it wrong, or any less valuable than other marriages. After all, the religious sanctity of marriage came rather late in the history of marriage (which was originally to strengthen ties and build alliances may I add, and became a religious sacrament only due to fears from the Catholic church that certain groups may be gaining power, this meaning that henceforth the blessing (or permission if you prefer) of the church was necessary to legalise these allegiances. Anyway, I digress…

    What I’m saying is this: just because Western countries have an opinion on how society should function does not mean that it’ necessarily more developed in its thinking (see USA and gun laws for example). Males and females are different, and if a society treats each other differently on grounds of gender, so be it. But an expat should never be telling a society that they are wrong about anything they do, that’s not their place. Property shouldn’t eat dog because I have a pet dog and I see him as more human than other dogs…good argument? No, of course not. It’s culture specific. An animal is an animal, and if you disagree with eating one animal on moral grounds, then you should question the fact that you eat other animals too. Anyway, you get my point. Your own country’s way of thinking is not the be all and end all, it’s just the way you grew up and hence anything that disagrees with you therefore feels wrong. It doesn’t mean it is.


    • Thanks Danny – I think you’re right in many respects, but ultimately you’re also wrong, but let’s not go to war over it.

      I do agree that as a non-Korean I’m going to view things differently and from my own national perspective. And if you look at these ‘rankings’ ( – you’ll note that this is not purely western/1st world versus everyone else) you’ll see the difference between Ireland and Korea. However, there was a time when Ireland and Korea wouldn’t have been much different, and it’s actually written into the Irish constitution that, essentially, a woman’s place is in the home. Up until the 1980s in Ireland also, women had to resign from government employment when they got married, and there was more. But Ireland is a lot different now. So change is possible but it must be powered from within.

      Comparing women’s rights and eating dog are very different. I like dogs but if someone wants to eat them…well that’s their business just don’t invite me. But treating 50% of the population unfairly purely because of their gender is wrong, and I find it one of the most distressing aspects of Korea. Just because I’m not Korean does not mean I should sit back and accept this, that being said other than writing on this blog there’s little I can do about it, I suppose. I’ve a wife and a daughter here so this is changing my outlook even more. I see so many intelligent women come through the university, many much more clued in and capable than many of their male counterparts, but at the end of the day society will tell them to get married and have kids. And that is wrong.


  10. Conor — you did a nice job of setting out your position, and gently defending it. The Irish are brave, opinionated, empathetic people (a gross generalization from a second generation Irish-American). You represent them well.


  11. Pingback: Is Seoul a Good City for an Expat to Live? | Daily Guide Korea

    • It’s a city of over 10 million people, with about half as many cars, so it gets a bit congested. That being said the public transport is second to none, and the city has improved in so many years since I first arrived in 2005.


      • Hey White TRash u don’t like Korea and Koreans? go home u fucking loser, couldn’t get a decent job back in Ireland? Plus it is hilarious to see a westerner trying to impose his culture and way of life to Koreans, fuck you loser.


      • You’re a sharp one, cowboy! Who said anything about imposing my culture? This post is nothing about culture, it’s about living, in Korea. Something you probably know little about.


  12. I enjoyed reading the piece, and have to agree with many points. As a Korean American who has lived most of his life in Korea, let me add these points:

    1) Korea is horrible for senior citizens, half of whom live in poverty, and the suicide rate for Korean elderly is three times the national average.

    2) If you retire in Korea, you’re gonna need a lot of dough. Korean pensions pay not so much.

    3) A foreign elderly person won’t be eligible for a lot of senior citizen benefits.

    4) Job security and stuff become a real danger after 40.

    5) The Korean economy might have seen its best days in the past, as emerging economies and China dominate the region. Korea needs new growth engines but none have really panned out.

    That said, I’m also aware that my home country, the U.S., is also declining and that moving back would entail a whole new can of worms.


  13. If you lived in Boston or New England areas you will not have problems in Korean Peninsula. If you lived in West Coast, Mid-West, South, Tropical places. You will have problems living and adapting to Korean lifestyle. For all expats. Korean Peninsula is not easy place because Korea is not China, Japan, Thailand. Seoul is not Chinatown or Little Tokyo.


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