I might have overreacted a smidgen when I first walked into my Korean apartment. Pro-tip #1- don’t believe the pictures the agency sends you of your future Korean apartment. I had received pictures of a beautiful, new, loft-style apartment while I was back in the USA, and was disappointed to find a much different apartment when I arrived in Seoul. That being said, don’t trust Korean agencies.
However, I have grown to like, if not love my little Seoul apartment, as I do with most places I live in, because it has become home. It may be old and dingy, and slowly killing me from black mold infestation, but I have tried to make it as homey as possible.
Here are some of the possible things that you might discover about your Korean apartment once you arrive.
There is no dryer, and the washer can be very frustrating to use. I finally found a wash cycle that seemed to not leave my clothes soaking wet at the end of it, through much trial and error, mind you. Not to mention the washer locked on my first night in Seoul and I couldn’t get it open for two days until my school sent a maintenance guy over.
Since there is no dryer, you have to hang your clothes on a drying-rack. During the summer, Korea gets very muggy and humid and sometimes things can take a long time to dry, coming out smelling rather mildewy at the end of it.
During the winter, however, you can lay your clothes on the floor and they will dry within an hour. Why? Because of ondol floor heating! I love love love the ondol heating system. There is nothing like getting out of bed in the middle of the night and having your feet be toasty warm while walking to the bathroom. It’s great.
As I said before, Korea is really humid, so mold can be a problem. I didn’t realize the reasoning that Koreans had behind leaving their ondol on and their windows open during the day, but I found out that’s how to get rid of mold. When I complained to my school that I had found black mold growing in the wall paneling, they told me I should do that to dry the place out. I guess it has helped somewhat, but I feel like my apartment is really prone to mold and it’s very gross.
The bathroom is Korean style, which means that the shower is not separated and the floor is constantly wet. I think this may be my least favorite thing about my apartment, and I refuse to wear shower shoes as they just feel kinda…(sticky?) to me. I like to be barefoot when I shower, I just can’t help it!
The clean-freak side of myself that I inherited from my mother has really come out since living in Korea, since I feel that the people living in the apartment before me really had an out of sight, out of mind policy when it came to cleaning. In the States, we are required to clean our apartments before moving out or we won’t get our deposits back, but here it is the new tenants job, so be prepared for the possibility that you could get a very gross and dirty apartment when you first arrive.
Regardless, my apartment is really not so bad, and while I miss Western-style showers and the comforts of home, the benefits of living in Seoul and having a rent-free apartment to call home certainly outweigh the negatives.
Have you ever lived in a Korean-style apartment? Would you?