Surviving Seoul

This was aired on TBS efm on Monday February 2nd on Soul of Asia. There is information on cycling, events, credit cards, and how you can get your pension back.

PS. The reason I am posting it on this site is because when I upload this to the TBSefm website, it is not searchable so the information is difficult for others to find.

So here is the script.

Let’s start with some news from the Seoul Global Center, because you know how I heart them.

The Itaewon·Hannam Global Village Center on Feb. 6th will be having a living in Seoul orientation class at 10:30am. There will be lots of good living tips and information there. Plus, you’ll meet other Seoulites. And you can get the fabulous Living in Seoul books at the orientation and they’ll have snacks and coffee.

Also the Itaewon.Hannam Global Center will be offering an exciting tour of the city on this Saturday, February 7th. The tour is free of charge and it has a jam packed itinerary full of great activities. It starts with a cooking class to make bulgogi and haemulpajeon and then, and this is the best part, you get to eat it.

Then the tour will go to Gyeongbok Palace, the Folk Museum, and Insadong. It will end with a performance of Nanta. Families and individuals are welcomed to attend. I’m pretty sure it’s for foreigners only, so sorry Seoul citizens. You can RSVP by calling the Global Center at 796-2459 or email them at

Now we have received some questions from listeners to our e-mail address and I would like to answer some of them today. If you have questions you can send them to Dan and I are happy to research and answer these questions for you, so be sure to e-mail us at

Here is a question from a listener: Can you get a credit card if you work for a hagwon?

The answer is yes, but it is more difficult than if you are working for a public school, a corporation, or a University. If you work at a university, a reputable company or public school you’ll get much higher credit limits than at a hagwon.

If you need a credit card that can be used overseas, you can get one at most banks by putting down a deposit. You can put down 1 million or 2 million and you’ll gain interest on deposit you put down, however, it’s not a credit card per se: it’s more like a debit card. However, you will be able to use it in another country and get cash advances. You will also be able to use the credit card to pay for purchases in separate installments.

Well, listener, I hope that answered your question about getting a credit card.

Here is another question: Sara, how do I get my pension refund?

If you want to get your pension you should go to your nearest pension office. They are in every city and there are several in Seoul. I know that the one by Gangnam station has English speaking help. You go out Gangnam Station exit 4 and it is right next to the KTF building. It’s on the 4th floor.

In order to apply you need to take your Air Tickets, your bank book, passport, and Alien Registration Card. For an overseas account, you’ll need your bank transfer number. A voided check should have all the necessary information. Some banks are requesting SWIFT codes these days, so be sure to have it ready just in case.

You’ll have to fill out a form and present your information and then the money will be sent. If you send it your Korean account, it usually takes a week. For overseas accounts, it usually takes 1 month. Oh, and if you would like the money to go to another person’s account then you are going to have to get a notarized letter from an attorney.

You can find the forms and additional information at the National Pension Office Website at

Here is another question, Sara, I recently purchased a car from another foreigner and I found out that there are over 2 million in unpaid fines and tickets on the vehicle. The previous owner has left the country, what am I supposed to do?

Listener, I’m sorry to tell you this but the fines and tickets need to be paid before you can register the car. I hope you didn’t pay too much for the vehicle. This brings me to my next point, you should get the car registration checked before you buy a car. If you are buying a car for 500,000 won, there might be a reason why the car is so cheap.

Let’s take a break, Here is



Surviving Seoul Part 2

Over the weekend we had two cyclist on the show and they shared great information about cycling in Seoul. First of all, I learned about Critical Mass. Critical Mass is a cycling event held on the last Friday of every month in over 300 cities around the world. Cyclists meet and ride together through the city. Some of the largest ones in the world have had over 80,000 riders. That one was held in April in Budapest.

There is a monthly Critical Mass in Seoul. Now I’m not sure that it will have 80,000 people, but for cycling enthusiasts it sounds like fun. The next one will on February 21st at 4pm and it meets in Gwanghwamun. You can find more information about it at

On our message board you’ll find a whole list of bike shops where you can buy fixed gear bikes as well.

Alrighty, so back to Surviving Seoul.

Let’s talk about the yellow dust. Springtime is coming and some of you might have heard about yellow dust. So first of all, you might be asking yourself, What is yellow dust?

During certain times of the year, dust from China’s Gobi Desert will mix with pollutants from China and then flow conveniently into Korea. When it is really bad, you will notice that the sky will have a safari sheen. Yellow dust can cause respiratory problems and eye problems. For people that have to speak a lot, the effects of yellow dust can be devastating. So how can you protect yourself?

When it is really dusty, you should try to avoid being outside. Also, have a face-mask in your backpack. You can get these at most drugstores. I know, you might think you look ridiculous, but know that you’ll be protecting your lungs. Just think of yourself as an urban ninja. Plus, people will probably stare less if you’re a foreigner because it covers your face.

Also, you should drink a lot of water. This will help your lungs flush out the pollutants.

I found a great website to keep abreast of air quality in Korea. It’s at that’s

And one last thing, if some is retiring in Korea it is polite to say:

건강 하게 지내세요. That’s 건강 하게 지내세요.

It means, I wish you good health in the future.

Someone I know is retiring soon, so it’s something that I had to look up. It’s a good phrase to remember and it is much better than saying, See you around.

Well, that’s it for Surviving Seoul Today. Again, if you have questions you can e-mail them to us at, post them on our message board, or you can send us a text message at #1013.

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