'I am just leaving the country, not the people'
a little bird told me when I was leaving...
Friends, family, and readers-I have left Korea recently to pursue some amazing opportunites in the U.S. Although I have left the country that I dearly love, I hope that all of you will continue this food journey with me as I eat my way around the U.S. and other countries. My experience in Seoul cannot be put into words, and the memories and stories will always remain with me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for walking with me all these years!
Everything starts again...
Seoul in the City will always be here, and you guys will be the first to know about my culinary adventures to come:)
For those who are planning to leave Korea, and mignt be a little lost about what to do before exiting, this post is for you! Prior to leaving, I was running around town figuring out all the things that needed to be taken care of before I left. I realized that there were things that weren't very clear on different websites, and even my own friends were clueless. So I decided to write a detailed post on exiting Korea. Hopefully this will help those who need neccessary information when leaving!
If you have worked for a company in Korea that had pension deducted in your pay, you can get a refund before you exit Korea. Please note that not all companies deduct pension for foreigners. You can actually collect your refund anytime you leave the country. However, the longer you keep your pension plan in the Korean national pension account, the more interest you will accrue. Therefore to get the most out of your pension, it's probably best to request a refund right before your final exit. It usually takes about 1-2 weeks to get the refund deposited to your account (or depending on the refund cycle of the pension office). Refunds to accounts outside of Korea may take a little longer.
What you need to bring:
2. Alien registration (national i.d. card)
3. Korean bank book (or you can have your funds transferred to your accounts outside of Korea but must have all your information)
4. Copy of your airline ticket (or an e-ticket) to prove that you are leaving the country
*You can register for a refund up to one month prior to exiting the country, and this refund applies to foreigners only.
Here are some websites that can help with more specific details (click on links below)!
You can find many local pension offices around Seoul. However, one convenient location that I went to was the one near Yangjae station line 3, exit 9. A 3 minute walk out of exit 9, you will see 'L tower' and a McDonalds' on the 1st floor of that tower. The office is located on the 3rd floor of L tower. A service desk to aid foreigners can be found in the office as well.
Different box sizes at the local post office
Shipping goods back home
Does anyone enjoy packing? I think one of the craziest things about moving anywhere is the packing/unpacking. Especially when you move internationally. I didn't have the luxury to have a company move my things from point A to B. So I researched the most cost efficient and time efficient ways to move all my stuff back to the U.S. One great option if you have a ton of things like me, is to ship things back via boat. The Korea post has very reasonable rates and are very helpful in doing so.
Here are the details:
1. Shipping via boat takes 50-70 days on average. However, most of my friends have received their stuff within 30-40 days.
2. You have 5 different options for box sizes. However for all U.S. shipments, the largest box allowed via boat is the '5호' (see photo above). It's actually not that big. I believe that the '6호' size boxes can be used for Australia, New Zealand and Europe.
3. Prices for the boxes are inexpensive-they range from 450 won-1,900 won ($.40-$1.90)
4. The maximum weight allowed per box is 20 kg, and the average cost for 20 kg is 52,000 won.
I shipped 7 boxes in total, but not each box weighed 20 kg (some of my boxes were coats and shoes which took space, but the weight wasn't too heavy). Some weighed as little as 9 kg, and the cost of that averaged 30,000 won. Adding insurance wasn't too much extra either. Depending on how much you value each package, they range anywhere from 2,000-5,000 won/box in addition to the total cost. Which is really good!
Korea Post (click here to find the nearest post office)
OR if you have any friends visiting and are returning back without too much luggage, you can ask them to take a bag for you! haha. This is always another great option.
This is the form you must fill out at the post office for shipping items via boat.
This is the tax free counter at the airport, once you past through security. However, make sure you go to the tax free counter before you enter the security lines to get your receipts stamped!
Tax free shopping benefits before departure
Did you know that tax free benefits are not just for tourists and visitors? You can take advantage of this when you leave Korea! If you shop at any store that offers 'tax free' refunds, make sure you fill out the proper forms and have your passport with you. One store I usually shop at and take advantage of this is Uni Qlo every time I exit Korea (you can shop up to one month prior to departure). At the airport, if you have to check-in the 'tax free' items with your luggage, there is a counter before you go through security to get your receipts stamped. Please ask the your airline ticket counter for more info. Then once you past security, there is another 'Global blue tax free refund' counter, and you can get your tax refund in any currency. Otherwise, you will have to have all the goods with you to proceed with the tax refund past the security area.
Terminating phone services could be a pain. However, when you know all the details prior to leaving, it will save you time and money.
I had an iPhone for almost 2 years and my contract with KT Olleh (2 years usually) had 3 months left before it officially ended. Here are 2 main options.
1. Pay the remainder amount left on your contract (in my case it was 33,000 won/month times 3), then keep your number and 'hold' or 정지 (jungji) your account for just 4,000 won/month. You can hold this account/number for up to 3 years. This is great if you ever decide to return to Korea because you can re-activate your account anytime. For this option you can also set the date on when you want the 'hold' process to begin.
2. Pay the remainder left on your contract, then 'close' or '해재' (haejae) the account completely. However, you have to close this account in person at an actual store, and as soon as you deactivate your phone, you will not be able to use it the minute you walk out of the store.
I ended up selecting option 1 because I needed to use my phone up until the day I left. So I reserved the date as to when the actual 'hold' process would begin. Since I know I will be returning to Korea to visit in the near future, I always have the option to close my account then.
*Note the details above apply only to the iPhone and KT olleh service. Also, if the iPhone 4/4S are purchased in Korea, they are unlocked so you can just change the SIM cards wherever you go!
If you would like to close your personal bank account, it only takes minutes to do so. Be sure to take all important documents with you to the bank (national i.d. card, passport, bank passbook or bank account info).
If you need to transfer money to your accounts outside of Korea, it's best to take care of this at the local bank. At first I was tempted to actually just carry cash on hand with me, but realized that it might not be the safest option. If you have a large sum to take with you, the Korean bank fees average 7,000 won/per transaction (about $7). The bank will convert your won into whichever currency and tell you exactly what amount in that set currency will be transferred to your outside account.
For me, I had money transferred to my U.S. account, and Chase charged me $15 to receive the transferred amount. I hear most U.S. accounts charge an average of $20 for fees. So overall, the total fees + convenience + safety, transferring money at the local banks was the best option for me.
I hope this information is helpful, and please don't hesitate to email me if you have further questions:)