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Do Koreans Like Foreigners? (Must Read Before Going)

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Last updated:

On average more than 3 million tourists visit South Korea every year. And from those over 2.5 million foreigners live in South Korea as of December 2019.

When you look at these statistics, you can definitely say that foreigners like to live in Korea. Otherwise, they would have been gone already.

So, what are you waiting for?!

Start packing your bags and order a plane ticket NOW.

Just kidding, don’t do it just yet… before that I’ll explain to you why foreigners live in Korea. And what to expect.

Let’s get started.

In short: Koreans are very friendly towards foreigners. There’s no ill intent or hate whenever they see foreigners. This makes South Korea one of the most popular places for foreigners to stay.

Living in Korea as a Foreigner

Living in Korea as a foreigner might be the dream for most people. You either like:

  • K-pop
  • Korean Culture
  • Korean Food
  • K-drama

Or all of the above. But one thing is certain, you’d like to live in Korea as a foreigner. But it isn’t always rainbows and butterflies because there are many problems you’ll face.

Some of these are harder to overcome than others, but let me tell you that these are very common problems you’ll face.

People in Their 20s

Whenever you go outside in Seoul or any other metropolitan city in South Korea, you’ll see that people in their 20s don’t really care.

They are too busy with themselves as they should be. And from a foreigner’s perspective, this may seem very closed and hard to approach.

But in reality, this is just how it is in South Korea. 

It’s hard to make friends with locals, especially when you don’t speak Korean. That’s why most people try to find friends that are also a foreigner living in Korea.

Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to make friends with Koreans, but it’s just very hard in general. On the other side, Koreans are very friendly whenever you ask them something. 

They’re very helpful whenever you need help finding something or can’t get to the place you want to.

Older People

As for the older people… it’s not as great as it seems. If you don’t look Asian, it’ll probably be very hard to get along with older people.

It’s been known amongst many foreigners that the older Korean people, also called “Ahjumma” are very close-minded. And speaking up against them will be very disrespectful in everyone’s eyes.

Mainly because respect is a huge thing in Korea, you bow whenever you see your peer and even the language you use is different.

In South Korea, you have formal speech and informal speech.

For older people that are older than you or have a higher rank, you must use formal speech. If not, it’ll be very disrespectful and they’ll most likely bring it up.

It’s not like other countries where there’s one language and you approach everyone the same. 

So with that in mind, you should always know how to approach someone older than you and treat them with respect, especially when you’re a foreigner in South Korea.

Pros and Cons of Living in Korea as a Foreigner

Living in South Korea comes with its pros and cons.


  • Very clean city
  • English-friendly country
  • Extremely safe (even at night)
  • Easy to find jobs (teaching English!)


  • Expensive to live in
  • Hard to make friends with the locals
  • Learning Korean is hard

Working in Korea as a Foreigner

Now, working in Korea as a foreigner is easier than you think. If you want a fast job that pays decent, then you should become an English teacher.

These are the easiest jobs to get in Korea. Especially if you’re a foreigner and don’t have a lot of experience working at big companies.

In fact, in every Asian country, it’s easy to get a job as an English teacher. So, it’s not only Korea. But for the most part, it’s quite easy and there are even Facebook groups out there that promote these types of jobs.

Now, keep in mind that it can get very boring teaching English, that’s also the reason why most people don’t do it for very long.

After a few years, they either move on to do something else or are moving to another country like Thailand or the Philippines. Both of these countries are a bit cheaper than Korea.

If you want to become a doctor, dentist, or lawyer in Korea as a foreigner it’s extremely hard. Make sure you can speak fluent Korean and know the jargon they use in the field.

If you can’t, then you most likely don’t even have a chance.

It’s really that difficult to get a high-paying job in Korea if you’re not skilled at one particular skill. But let’s say you get recommended by another big company, then it should be very easy.

There are also recruiting companies out there that are specifically looking for foreigners. 

Make sure to on apps like:

  • KakaoTalk
  • Cyworld
  • Naver
  • Line

These are the most used apps in Korea. 

Koreans don’t use apps like Snapchat or Facebook. It’s mostly foreigners that use these.

Final Thoughts

After all, Koreans love foreigners and the amount of jobs you can get as a foreigner in Korea is endless. They even have different clubs that are specifically made for foreigners. So, if you want to visit Korea, make sure to do so.

The most popular places are Gangnam, Itaewon, and the Myeondong market in Seoul. These are the places where most foreigners tend to stay. And the best part is… all these places have English signs and menus for you to use.

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    About The Author

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    Jason Park

    Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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