I don’t do many (none) “lists for living in Korea,” type of blog posts but had the inkling to do it when I basically wanted to share my fabulous Netflix taste. I mean, I’m not going to include the documentary I watched about buying a Russian bride (for science) or how I sat for some hours to re-watch all of a childhood sitcom, Dinosaurs (also for science). I’m just going to tell you about the good stuff so I seem cooler. There’s also some helpful sites and apps that I use while I make my oversized, American footprint here in Seoul.
Really I don’t write blogs about teaching/living abroad tips because, well, what do I know? I just trudge along each day trying to figure things out myself, even after 3 years. You can’t ever prepare yourself fully but you can be more comfortable so I hope this helps you out if you plan on coming to Korea.
If I think of more or happen upon others I’ll update!
1. NETFLIX: Stream movies online for about $8 a month.
Sadly, you have to be from either North and South America, the Caribbean, parts of Europe (Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, or the United Kingdom to use this service. You must set up your account back home before coming abroad or at least still have an address and bank account back home they can take money out of each month.
You will also need to download a VPN to get this service to work in Korea. (VPNs hide your IP address and give you one from the homeland, allowing you to stream movies available in your home country.) I currently use Hotspot Shield which costs about $23 a year. I wouldn’t highly recommend it but its worked for me pretty well while I’ve been here, barring some irritations (cursing and cryings) along the way.
Amazon also has a great service, Amazon Prime, that you pay per year and you won’t need a VPN. I haven’t switched only because I have been with Netflix for about ten years and change is hard.
If you find yourself looking for something to watch, allow me to suggest a few of my favorites from the Netflix U.S. version:
- Bob’s Burgers: possibly the best cartoon ever made. Each character is crafted to perfection.
- The Inbetweeners: 4 awkward male teens in Britain being awkward male teens
- The Mind of a Chef: documentary series with badass chef, David Chang
- The Spoils of Babylon: Will Ferrell heads this ridiculously perfect 80s-style mini series with all the cliches you could ever ask for. Lots of cameos!
- Peep Show: Brilliant comedy that will make you feel a bit better about all the mistakes you’ve ever made in your life. Filmed from the point of view of the characters makes it interesting to watch as well.
- A Young Doctor’s Notebook: Jon Hamm and Daniel Radcliff star as the same man in two different times as a Russian doctor during the Revolution. While its hard to imagine Radcliff growing up and looking like Hamm in twenty years, the story is amazingly hilarious and very well acted.
- Twin Peaks: I’ve watched this entire series all the way through a couple times because of all the love I have for it. Absurdity and seriousness fused together at its best. Hasn’t gone out of style at all.
2. Veggiehill: English grocery site
This is for those of you who would rather your store bought fruit and vegetables don’t start to rot within hours after purchase. Korean produce from the small markets is notoriously terrible about going bad quickly. If you are not lucky enough to live near one of the big stores, EMart or Homeplus, where the produce is fresher, this is a great alternative. It’s all in English and they will send it to you by mail if you are not in their delivery zone.
The pros are that its in English and everything is organic and pretty fresh, including the chicken and eggs, which is awesome. The cons are that delivery is a bit expensive if you don’t live within the “zone” and its hard to figure out what days they will mail things out.
These are two Korean sites for grocery shopping online. The cons are, of course, you need to know some Korean to order or have a Korean friend to do it for you (like me). The pros are, there is a huge variety, there are many Western ingredients, many organic options at Icoop and buying from co-ops are amazing for the economy and environment.
If you want to order from Icoop please know they are very serious about their business. You (or your friend) must take a quiz after reading about their organization and delivery takes a little longer. Greenfarm is a great place too and you get your things in about a day’s time.
4. CineinKorea: To reserve a movie ticket
Going to the movies in Korea is super easy and you don’t really need to speak any Korean to see a Western movie. What they offer as far as Western movies go is usually crap, but they hit on a good one here and there. Just go in, tell them which movie you want and they will show you the options for seating…no problem. Problems only happen when its a popular movie and you want to reserve some tickets for a popular time. That’s where CineinKorea comes in very handy. The site is all in English and you can easily pay for tickets online. They will send you a confirmation number and you show it to the clerk at the ticket counter and they will assign the seats there. Wonderous!
5. Subway App: The only subway app you need in Seoul.
You need this one. Just go ahead and download this app for your subway needs in Seoul. In English!
Whether you need clothes, cat beds, towels, a ball of mozzarella, or a sofa…these stores have some options for you. While they might not be the cheapest on the block, everything is in English and you can get it delivered with little problem. These are the sites that have kept me the most sane while living in Korea because I can order damn near anything from them.
7. Y Not Takeout: An awesome delivery service that is not available in my area 😦
This one is kind of a cheat but the reason I’m including it is because the service sounds amazing. I’ve seen the reviews but I haven’t been able to use it yet. You have to check the delivery zones but YNot Takeout is an all English website that allows you to order from many different restaurants. The lists of their delivery zones and restaurant options are on their website. I’m still sad it’s not stretched to Gangnam yet, but I have hope for the future!