How to Eat in a Korean Restaurant like a local by Seoulistic

Sit Wherever You Like

Walk into a local Korean restaurant and take a seat. Most Korean restaurants in Korea, if not filled to capacity, won’t have a host or hostess to seat you. If there’s an open seat, it’s yours for the taking.

Get The Waitress’ Attention – Press a Button, or Really Get their Attention

Sitting at a table waiting for the waitress to come around? Raising your hand hoping to get their attention? Chances are you’ll be just as unnoticed as the quiet and nerdy kid sitting in the back of the classroom.

First thing’s first, look for a button on the table. And just like Field of Dreams, “if you press it, they will come.” If there is no button, make sure you’re not sheepish about calling them over. To get their attention, do as the Koreans do and say a nice, heartyjeogiyo (저기요 – excuse me) — be firm and confident. Don’t worry about being impolite. As long as you’re not screaming it, they’ll take it in stride.

Tip 1: Waiters/waitresses share in the serving duties (you’re not designated a server).
Tip 2: A friendlier way to address a waitress is to say eonni (언니 – older sister) or emo (이모 – auntie). Don’t worry, most men don’t care what you call them (seriously).

Find Utensils then Place on Top of a Napkin

At local Korean restaurants in Korea, utensils are typically found at the table you’re sitting at. Look for a box with a lid on the table. Once you do find them, place a napkin on the table and put your utensils on top of it. Most Korean locals do this to ensure whatever is going into your mouth is clean. It’s not that the restaurants in Korea are unclean. It’s just an added level of security. Germaphobes unite!

Tip 1: Can’t find the utensils? Don’t forget to look under the table as well—they might be tidily placed in a drawer.

Share Your Food

Although this is an oxymoron for protecting oneself against germs, if you’re eating with locals at a Korean restaurant in Korea, be prepared to share your food. Korean culture places a lot of emphasis on sharing, and that means you’ll see a lot of different spoons in the same pot and ripping up large pieces of kimchi with chopsticks that were just in someone’s mouth. Don’t be freaked out, it’s bound to happen!

Tip 1: If you’re uncomfortable with this, people will understand. Ask for an extra dish (ap jeobshi – 앞 접시) and take what you need.

Drink Water at the End of the Meal

For local Korean people, water at a restaurant is usually only good for dabbing at that kimchi you spilled on your shirt. That is until the end of the meal when Koreans actually drink it. If you want to eat like a local at a Korean restaurant in Korea, wait till the end of your meal to drink water. Korean people have a belief that drinking too much water is bad for digestion, and most Korean people only drink about a cup or two at the end of their meals.

Tip 1: If you’re a human-camel, don’t worry. There’s nothing culturally wrong with drinking a lot of water at the table. It’s just not what local Koreans do. Drink up!
Tip 2: If you’re not given a container of water, water is most likely self-serve. Scan the restaurant, find the water cooler and get it yourself. Sorry, lazy people!

Find the Check and Pay Upfront

If you call over the waitress asking for the check and/or hand over your credit card to pay, you might get a laugh or two out of her. At most Korean restaurants in Korea, the check is already at the table. They just mark whatever you ordered and leave the tallied check on the table. And at most restaurants in Korea, you’ll have to bring that check to the front door to pay on your way out.

Tip 1: At a galbi restaurant in Korea? Check the metal ventilation tubes atop the BBQ. Sometimes the check is magnetically attached. Clever!

source: seoulistic


5 Common but Simple Seoul Subway Mistakes to Avoid

1. Watch for Turnstile Arrows

You bought your ticket no problem and you think you’re set. You head over to the turnstile and click your card, but nothing’s happening! The more you click, the angrier you get. But before you transform into the Hulk and start breaking stuff, back away and see if there’s an arrow. These arrows indicate if that particular gate is for entry. To make foot traffic flow smoother, Seoul subways designate half the gates for entry and the other half for exits. And you’re probably just at an exit gate. So put your shirt back on and move on over to a turnstile with an arrow, Bruce Banner.

 Tip: If you’re at a gate with an arrow and your card still isn’t working, maybe you’re low on funds? But if the obvious isn’t the problem, take your card to the station manager who will fix it for you :)

2. Carrying Luggage? Use the Wheelchair Gate

If you’re traveling to Korea with one of those big daddy travel suitcases, you might have trouble getting through the turnstiles. Although many of the newer Seoul subway stations have entry points without turnstiles, many of the non-upgraded stations will still have them. And that ain’t good for big papi. A lot of times the handles get stuck in the turnstiles, or sometimes the suitcase just doesn’t fit. So instead of lifting your suitcase over your head like a pro wrestler looking to bodyslam some luggage, do the easy thing and head over to the wheelchair access gate. All subways are equipped with this gate to provide access to the disabled as well as travelers that love to pack their entire wardrobe. Just “click” your T-money card on the sensor and be on your way!

Tip: If you have a lot of luggage, use the elevators. Nearly all Seoul subways stations can be accessed by elevator.

Tip 2: Gates can be used for strollers.

3. Got on wrong side? Go to Wheelchair Access Gate

Sometimes Seoul travelers occasionally get on the wrong side and need to cross to the other. This isn’t an issue if you’re at a one-platform subway station that has trains going in both directions. But if you’ve made this mistake at a station that requires you to go up to the turnstiles and cross to the other side, you won’t want to use your T-money card to get out (you’ll be paying an extra fare). Instead, head over to the wheelchair access gate (see #2) and press the button and wait till the gate opens (sometimes there will be no sound). Then head over to the wheelchair gate on the other side. If they see you they’ll most likely have it readily open for you. If they don’t see you, you can press the button again.

Tip: The speakers let you talk to the staff members to explain your noobie mistake, but many times the staff won’t even ask and just let you through.

Language tip:

잘 못 탔어요 (jal mot tasseoyo) – I got on the wrong side

4. Change Your Mind? Recharge Your Funds

Seoul subway fares are determined by the length of your ride. But if you like bragging about being a “spontaneous traveler” and decide mid-ride that you’re going to go a little farther than your original destination, your fare might increase. And if you don’t have the right amount charged on your card, the gates will be really mean and refuse to open. Instead of being super criminal of the year and jumping over the turnstiles, be a bit more civilized and pay the extra few hundred won. All subway entry points will have machines to recharge your funds. Here you can pay whatever extra you need and be on your way.

Tip: This tip is also for when you run out of funds on your T-money card.

Super Secret Tip: If you’ve run out of cash (or you’re super cheap), you can press the button at the wheelchair gate (see #3). Most of the time staff won’t even ask and just let you through. But you didn’t hear it from us ;)

5. Get Your Refund for Single Use Cards

This tip we covered for mega Seoul subway noobies, but if you’re going to buy your tickets at the station, you will have to purchase a single use card. And the Seoul subway staffers like to get those cards back to sacrifice to the subway gods (or maybe just to recycle them :P). And to ensure that they’ll be getting their sacrificial lambs back, they ask subway riders to put a 500 won deposit for each ride. When you get off at your station, you of course get that money back at a refund machine. This is a super simple tip that too many tourists gloss over. So remember to get your 500 won back at the end of  your trip, which’ll keep your wallet and the subway gods happy.

Tip: To avoid this hassle, just get a T-money card. Trust us. It’s worth it.

source: seoulistic

5 Things You Must Know About Taking Buses in Seoul

(Click images for sources)

Riding the Seoul bus is an excellent method of transportation if you’re living in Korea or even if you’re just traveling to Korea. But there are a few things that you should prepare for before you get onto a Seoul bus. Read this post to find out 5 must know things about riding the Seoul bus so that you don’t go flying, miss your stop, or be a jerk!

Seoul Transportation Tip #1: Hold onto Dear Life!

Seoul bus drivers are well known for their speed. Many of them drive really, really fast, enough so that you can feel a bit unsafe. But for the most part Seoul bus drivers don’t get into accidents. So although they’re a tiny bit reckless, you’re still pretty safe. That is if you holding onto something for dear life! That’s because as fast as they can speed up, they can brake just as fast. That results in a lot of Seoul commuters falling over or even flying across the bus when the bus comes to an extremely abrupt stop. If you’re riding the buses in Seoul, remember to hold onto something, almost literally for dear life!

Seoul Transportation Tip #2: Be Awesome and Get Up for the Elderly and Children

If you think you’re in danger of going flying in a Seoul bus, think about how hard it is for a little child or an elderly Korean person to hold onto dear life. Just as Korean subway etiquette says you should get up for little children, the elderly, the pregnant and the injured, you should pretty much do the same on Seoul buses. If you help a fellow Korean bus rider in need, it’ll put you in the awesome category. And who doesn’t like to be awesome??? Do it Seoul bus rider! :D

Seoul Transportation Tip #3: Rush Hour – The Back Serves as an Entrance

If you’re ever trying to get on a bus at the peak of rush hour in Seoul, you might find yourself fighting with droves of people to get on the bus. For Seoul buses, it’s a pretty strict rule that the front is the entrance and the back is the exit. That is until there’s a bunch of people trying to get home during rush hour in Seoul. When the crowds get too big, some Seoul bus drivers will open the back door as an entrance for those people trying to get on. It’ll load the bus quicker, and doing everything as fast as possible is what Korean culture is all about!

Seoul Transportation Tip #4: Super Crowded? Press the Bell on the Ceiling

So the Seoul bus driver opens the back of the bus to let waves of people into the bus, and now you find yourself packed inside a bus with a bunch of people holding on for dear life. But lucky for you, your bus stop is now coming. You reach for the bell to let the bus driver know that you’re about to get off, but your stumbling because there’s so many darn people and the bus driver is braking and accelerating like a mad man. Have no fear. The Seoul Bus authorities have placed bells on the ceilings of buses for just this occasion! Although not every single Seoul bus will have bells on the ceilings, many of the more crowded buses will have bells on the ceilings just for this purpose! Seoulites be mad smart, yo!

Seoul Transportation Tip #5: Don’t Miss Your Stop! Go to the Back

Sweet! So you pressed the bell, and now your stop is coming up. Since the bus driver is driving as crazy as aSeoul taxi, you’ll just sit until the bus comes to a total stop before you get up. And although that’s probably the safest way to do things, that isn’t the reality of taking a Seoul bus. Most Seoul bus drivers like to pick up and drop off passengers as fast as possible. And that means if you’re getting off, you should be ready and waiting to get off. If you’re riding the bus in Seoul, you have to be sure that you’re standing and waiting near the rear exit of the bus, even while the bus is moving. Otherwise, the bus driver might get impatient and you might miss your stop! “Ajeoshi!! Stop!!”

source: seoulistic

Get Free Samples from stores

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Everyone loves freebies, and following this tip will allow you to get some free Korean food and make up in Korea. Find out where the best places to go are and what kind of things you can get for free in Korea!

Free Korean Food Samples (시식)

Major Korean supermarkets are flat out awesome. If you go to any major Korean supermarket, you can go in and taste test a variety of different foods, including free galbi, fruit, soups, dumplings, yogurt and more. You don’t even have to fake like you’re going to buy the food. Just walk right up, unleash the inner cheapskate in you and indulge in free taste testing of all different kinds of Korean foods. There’s so much free food to sample, Koreans joke that the supermarket is the best place to get a meal if you’re broke and hungry. Massive variety and free = the ultimate penny pinching meal!

Tip 1: You’re only supposed to take one, but they usually don’t mind if you take two or three samples. They also don’t care if you come around for round 2 when they finish making another batch of whatever they’re cooking!
Tip 2: Galbi and other more expensive free samples are pretty popular. Don’t be scared to fight off a few ajummas to get yourself a nice snack.

Free Makeup Samples in Myeongdong

If you’re into Korean cosmetics, head over to Myeongdong to load up on free samples from pretty much every store there. Myeongdong is like Korean makeup heaven, so there’s a lot of competition to get your business. To try to get your business every store has a worker outside yelling (it’s some serious yelling folks) at tourists in Japanese, Chinese, Korean (sometimes English) enticing you to come in by handing you free makeup samples. All you have to do is look around the store. That’s it! If you just want the free sample, just do a quick walk around and get out. Bring an empty bag and fill it up your free goodies, so you can look pretty for weeks all for free! Score!

Got any places you like to get free stuff in Korea? Share with us in the comments!!

source: seoulistic

How to Give Directions in Korean (Taxi) by Seoulistic


Street addresses in Korea are super confusing, even to cabbies who spend all day roaming the streets. That’s because street addresses are based on the order the buildings were built rather than their location. So ask any Korean on the street how to get to your destination, and you’ll get confused looks. Without the help of a smartphone, it’s impossible for anyone to help. So rather than using addresses, most people in Seoul use landmarks to describe their locations. The most commonly used landmarks are subway stations. Here’s an example:

→ It’s outside Exit 4 of Apgujeong Station

The next most common landmarks are recognizable chain restaurants, cafes and banks.

→ Exit 4 of Apgujeong Station
Make a left at the McDonalds
→ It’s on the 2nd floor of Hana Bank

For taxi drivers, they all have GPS in their cars, so giving them an address will work out most of the time. But instead of spending time on punching in addresses (taxi drivers do it super slow for some reason), the most common way to direct drivers is to mention major hospitals, hotels, universities, or subway stations. While no one knows addresses off the top of their head, say a major hotel and that lightbulb in their head will turn on instantly. They’ll get you to that landmark no problem, and from there, it’s  your job to tell them to go straight, left or right.

Here’s how to give directions in Korean:

→ 우회전 해주세요 (uhoejeon haejuseyo) – Please turn right
→ 좌회전 해주세요 (jwahoejeon haejuseyo) – Please turn left
→ 직진 해주세요 (jikjin haejuseyo) – Please go straight
→ 내릴게요 (naerilgeyo) – I’ll get off here.

If you would like to request the taxi driver to enter the address on their GPS, you can show them the address and say:

→ 찍어 주세요 (jjikeo juseyo) – Please enter it (in the GPS)

Addresses have their place, but without GPS or smartphones, we’d all be stranded in Korea. Instead, if you’re staying at a small hotel, make note of a big brand name one nearby so that you can tell the taxi driver next time.

Have you ever had any experience with a useless address in Korea? Share your experience! :)

source: seoulistic

How to Get Free Wifi Anywhere in Korea by Seoulistic

wifipasswordsampleYou’re traveling to Korea and looking for some free wifi hotspots you can leech off of. Starbucks, McDonalds, and even taxis offer free wifi, but for some reason, the passwords aren’t made so clear. Fear not. Here’s how you can unlock free wifi anywhere you go in Korea!

Korea has a number of popular routers that come with factory set passwords. Although people do change it, a surprising number of people leave the factory password as is. Many businesses and major corporations in Korea also regularly offer wifi, but don’t readily reveal their passwords. If you want to get free wifi in Korea, find the wifi name below and try out the password. It’s not guaranteed to work, but chances are high that you’ll be scoring some free wifi anywhere you go in Korea! *source: seoulistic*

Wifi Spot


KT SSID , KT_WLAN 1234567890 | 123456789a | 1234567890c
HellowD (헬로우 디), Hellowireless, SO070VOIP 534f4b4354
Tbroadnet 123456789
Egg 택시 (taxi) SHOW3382
KWI-B2200T, KWI-2200 SHOW3382 | password
myLGnet, myLG070 123456789a | 987654321a | 1234567890 | myLGNetfe07
SK a123456789
Tbroadnet a123456789
세븐일레븐 (7-Eleven) 2127393302
맥도날드 (McDonalds) 16005252 (McDonald’s delivery phone number)
스타벅스 (Starbucks) Phone number of the starbucks you’re at (see receipt)
tobis 1234
iptime, anygate, zio, linksys no default passwords :(