Korea's currency is the won (W). Paper money comes in denominations of W1,000, W5,000, W10,000, and W50,000,while coins come in denominations of W10, W50, W100, and W500. Banks also use aluminum W1 coins to keep track of transactions which are not exact multiples of 10 won, but you will probably never actually use one. Bank checks (supyo) in denominations of W100,000, W500,000, and W1,000,000 can be used, but merchants often tack on a surcharge for handling them, especially if they were issued by a bank in a different city. Instead, most people carry huge wads of W10,000 notes.
1 CAD = 1,109.94 KRW
1 KRW = 0.00090 CAD
Opening an account in Korea is very easy. You can transfer money from just about any bank in Korea to your own bank at home. All you need is your passport. You can send money home via wire transfer, money order or western union. Bank commissions and regulations differ from bank to bank, so if there are difficulties at one place, you can always go to another. Major transactions usually take up to 2 or 3 working days. International credit cards, VISA and MasterCard, are widely accepted. You can easily find ATM machines everywhere in Korea. Some take international cards and some only take domestic cards. The instructions are sometimes in Korean. ATM's close at 10:00 pm.
In addition to drinking and socializing, “Seoulites” love to shop. The best places for shopping in Seoul are: Dongdaemun, Namdaemun, Insa-dong and Gwangjang-dong. Shopping can also be done at street stalls, open markets, big department stores, and small specialty shops. Itaewon is said to be a "shoppers paradise" for foreigners. It has great bargains, especially with custom-made goods, leather items, shirts and shoes. Moreover, in Itaewon, English is widely used.
The Korean transportation system is very extensive. You may catch a bus, train or airplane to almost any place in the country. Transportation is, also, relatively cheap. The Seoul city buses cost about fifty cents (U.S.). Trains are inexpensive, frequent and safe. Taxis in Seoul begin their rates at about $1.50. Black, luxury taxis are double that price. Domestic flights are about $75 US, depending where you fly. Always be sure to make a reservation in advance if you want to travel during the high tourism season since everyone and his brother travels at this time.
Seoul has good health facilities with many modern hospitals and clinics. Most major hospitals have English speaking staffs. In fact, most doctors in Korea can speak or read a little English. In addition, many specialty clinics and excellent dentists can be found in Korea. Foreigners are advised to get vaccinated for hepatitis, polio, tetanus, typhoid and diphtheria.
Housing (Long Term Renting)
If you plan to stay for a long time in Korea, consider renting an apartment or house. Real estate offices called budeungsan are located everywhere. Few realtors will speak English, except in areas near high concentrations of foreign residents. (For information about searching for a house or apartment in Korea and an online request form, visit the P.L. Real Estate Consulting listing in our Yellow Pages section.) Realtors normally charge a commission of 3% of the yearly rental amount, which is split between the renter and the rentee. Other avenues to try include the English language newspapers, word of mouth, or international bulletin boards such as those in the Hannam supermarket in Yongsan-gu.
Recently, Korea has been moving to 220 volts. Most newer buildings only contain 220 volt outlets, whereas older buildings have only 110 volt outlets or a combination of 110 and 220 outlets. Transformers can be found at most electronics shops. Plugs for the 110 outlets are the standard, squarish type (note that outlets do not accept the 3rd prong for grounding), while 220 plugs are round. Electronics stores also carry adapters between the 2 plug types, but make sure your appliance is being connected to the proper volt level!
To have telephone service installed, you will need to visit the local Korea Telephone office and deposit W250,000 (W8,000 is for the installation fee and the rest you can get back when you discontinue service). You will also need to bring your passport. For newer buildings, all the phone company needs to do is flip the switch to turn on service. For older buildings, they may need to physically run a new cable. Note that each additional phone line also requires a W250,000 deposit.