Study in South Korea − Destination Guide Seoul

Study in Seoul, the Twenty-Four-Hour City

Seoul is sparkly, clean and beautiful, divided by the gorgeous Han River and enveloped by mountains. In contrast to the downtown high rises, there are also multiple UNESCO world heritage areas with ancient temples, palaces and courtyards for you to explore.

Even though Seoul is a vast capital city, it embraces its new residents quickly and warmly. Getting around is fast and easy when you get used to the metro map and identifying the stations. Koreans are very polite and friendly, and even though making closer acquaintances takes a while, once you become friends, the generosity and loyalty bestowed upon a new friend is everlasting.

Seoul offers excellent shopping opportunities from luxurious shopping malls and department houses to underground shopping markets with hundreds of stalls filled with quality finds for next to nothing (when you bargain a bit).

Another favorite past time in Seoul, or the favorite past time, is eating. There are innumerable eating opportunities and you will find your own Korean favorites quickly.

What makes Seoul unique as well, is the history of the Korean peninsula. With the border to North Korea only a drive away, the past has never been put to rest in Korea. The country is very safe in general, as is Seoul, but the contrast between the capitalist south, with all that it has become in half a century, to the communist north, is ever startling.

One of the best student cities in the world

Seoul has also been voted as one of the top 10 student cities in the world, getting praise for its diversity of activities and opportunities while scoring points for its safety and convenience as well.

Key Facts

The flag of South Korea

Full name: Republic of Korea
Government: Republic
Population: 49 million (9,8 million in Seoul)
Capital: Seoul
Major languages: Korean, English (taught in junior high and high schools)
Major religions: Christian 31.6% (Protestant 24%, Roman Catholic 7.6%), Buddhist 24.2%
Life expectancy: 83 years (women), 77 years (men)
Currency: South Korean Won
Main exports: semiconductors, wireless telecommunications equipment, motor vehicles, auto parts, computers, display,
home appliances, wire telecommunication equipment, steel, ships, petrochemicals
Time Zone: 

  • Best of Seoul

    Low rise buildings in the Hanok style in Korea. People are mingling in front of the buildings
    Traditional Hanoks

    The Seoul Tower

    1,200-foot tall shiny tower on top of the Namsan Park offers superb views over the city.


    The hipster area in Seoul that is also the antithesis to the skyscraper horizon in Seoul. Samcheong is an old neighbourhood, dotted with one-story hanoks which are small, traditional houses with pagoda-style roofs. The hanoks have been quicky turning into Italian and American-style cafes, restaurants and wine bars in recent years. There are also art galleries and little shops in the area.

    Korean street with signs on both sides
    Seoul is a great city to explore


    The shopping district that can be described as the Beverly Hills of Seoul, complete with a Rodeo Street. The area is also where the most famous product of K-pop (Korean pop) was shot, the music video for Gangnam style.

    Cheongdam and Itaewon

    Cool areas to check out, and they can surprise you with how Western they are. Starbucks and boutiques line the streets and young Koreans are often as well educated in Western show business as they are in everything else. Hongdae is the college area, packed with shops, coffee places, laptops, ambition and excellent street food.

    A woman looks at products on display in the Myeng-dong shopping district in South Korea
    The Myengdong neighborhood houses one of the main shopping areas in Seoul

    Hongdae (Hongik University)

    The artistic area in Seoul. Known for street artists, trendy pubs and cute cafes.


    Tales and stories about the wonders of shopping in Korea circle the globe but you won’t get it till you experience it yourself. They have everything you could want and lots of things you didn’t know you wanted. Luxury brands in both cosmetics and clothes are much more affordable than in the West and the diversity is mind-boggling.

    A view looking to over Jeju Island, green peaks can be seen in the distance
    The largest island in Korea, Jeju is popular among honeymooners

    Subtropical Jeju

    Korea’s largest island. It’s the result of a volcanic eruption and offers magnificent scenery that includes waterfalls surging into the turquoise sea. The entire island is stunning, and very romantic – Jeju’s nickname is the Honeymoon Island.

    The Baekdu Daegan

    the longest stretch of uninterrupted hiking path in South Korea; it runs for 460 miles.

  • Geography and areas

    Map of South Korea showing the peninsula and major cities
    The map of South Korea

    South Korea is a gorgeous peninsula west of Japan, surrounded by the South China Sea and bordering only North Korea, its notorious other half, to the north. The capital city Seoul was largely rebuilt after the Korean war (1950-53) and has become a staggering triumph to capitalism and prosperity.

    Even though South Korea might first bring into mind its urban glory, it has a vast and stunning rural side. There are a number of outstanding national parks and the terrain is very diverse. You can hike, mountain bike, ski, golf, or enjoy the sun and waves at the beach. The north is more mountainous and hosts wildlife such as deer and bears. The south of the peninsula, in contrast, is lush and tropical – the “ginseng country”.

    South Korea is both geographically and culturally often pecked as the halfway between China and Japan. In fact, Seoul is often called the new Tokyo; it has all the culture, shopping and excitement but is less hectic and much more affordable.

  • Food and drink

    Seasoned meat is laying on a grill in South-Korea.
    Meat getting prepared for Korean style barbeque

    Rice is the central element of all dishes. A typical meal consists of rice and soup, accompanied with sides of delicious and exotic vegetables, fish, chicken, meat, eggs and sea plants. One of the favourites is a marinated beef barbeque dish bulgogiBi bim pap is a bowl of rice, topped with vegetables (and anything you wish) and a sunny side up egg. Tempura, deep-fried vegetables and seafood, rivals much unhealthier Western fried foods and mandus, the Korean dumplings, are will steal your taste buds. Real, hearty Ram eon soup is the student’s best friend and an unimaginable upgrade from cup a noodles. Kim pap is the Korean equivalent for sushi and you can afford to have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most popular Korean beers are Hite, OB and Cass.

  • Transportation and getting around

    Traffic is something you need to always factor in in Seoul. The subway system is the saviour element, it’s clean, cheap (0,8 EUR per trip), extensive and runs from 5.30 am to at least 1 am. You can buy monthly cards which take you everywhere for very little. Taxis are also cheap for short distances but it is good to have the destination address in Korean as the drivers rarely speak English.

  • Currency

    The currency of Korea is the Korean Won (₩ KRW). One euro is approximately 1 300 KRW depending on the exchange rate at the time.

    Korean Wons lie splattered on a table, bills are on the bottom and coins of varying sums cover the bills
    Korean Wons
  • History

    Korea was an independent kingdom for most of its long history but started the 20th century under foreign occupation. Following the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, Japan occupied the entire peninsula. Korea didn’t regain its independence till the Japanese surrendered to the United States in 1945. Korea was freed but divided into two zones of occupation roughly along the 38th parallel: North for the Soviet troops and South to the American.

    North Korean map flag
    North Korea is still a separate state

    Political chaos and infighting followed and broke into a full-scale war in 1950. China backed the North Koreans, while the U.S., the UK and the UN backed the South. The war between communism and capitalism lasted for three years and the Western super powers won the first round of the Cold War. Technically the two Koreas are still at war with each other since only an armistice agreement was signed in 1953.

    Park Chung-hee’s regime from 1961 to 1979 kick started the South Korean economic miracle, and the country has now the 12th largest economy in the world.

  • Make a note of


    A popular culture movement that encompasses music, films, TV soaps, video games and cartoons has been a growing influence on the overall culture since the 1990s and can now be seen and heard everywhere in Seoul. Its economic influence is huge as well: halluyu, aka the Korean wave, contributed more than £2.3bn to the South Korean economy in 2011 alone.

    Read more about the Halluyu in our blog!

    Thousands of people at a stadium in Korea enjoying a baseball game
    Baseball is enormously popular in Korea


    Popular sport in South Korea with the season lasting from April to October. The games get really loud with the crowd cheering for their favorite team. Tickets are affordable at around 10 euros for one person. Beverages and fast food such as burgers and fried chicken are sold around the stadium and can be brought inside.

    a complete korean barbeque on the table
    There will be plenty to eat in Korea!


    The spicy, crunchy and fresh version of sauerkraut; delicious super food served with almost everything you order.


    Take them always off before entering a private home.

    Table manners

    Burping at the table is fine; it showcases how much you liked the food. Sneezing, though, is a no no. If you don’t want to be served a second (or third, fourth, fifth…) helping of food, leave a little bit of your dinner on the plate to signify that you’re full.

    Pali pali

    I.e. hurry up; Koreans do not waste time, not necessarily because time is money but because Koreans get stuff done!