Have a fabulous 2012


Gaga: Rest in Peace (b.2002 - d.2010)


This section deals with the frequently asked questions (FAQ), if you have a question related to Korea then ask away and I'll try to find an answer for you. The questions in blue color are pasted here from the original emails without making any changes in spellings and grammar. Names and email address are not included for privacy.

Question from Malaysia:
Just moved to Korea and was wondering will you advice on how to prepare for winters and how to save on ondol bills?

Answer: Well, this is a very important question and I think this post has the answer to your question or simply click the URL below:


Best of Luck!

Question(s) from Pakistan:

Need your suggestions for below;
1. Souvenirs, where and what to buy?
2. The electronic market is very tempting, buying mobiles is alright and can they be used in Pakistan?
3.  I am planning to go out of Seoul, I'lll visit Jeju for a conference next year so what do suggest: Busan/ Daegu/ Gwangju or some other place?
1:  Itaewon is an easy choice and has 3 shops, ask the tourist info office
inside the subway and they will locate for you the shops and you can
choose among the souvenirs. In addition, my favorite place is Insadong and you can refer to my post here or click the URL below.
2:  The electronic market is very tempting, buying mobiles is alright?Korean cell phone doesn't work in Pakistan so nobody buys it to use in PK. Still, I'd suggest that go to Itaewon and ask Pakistani cellphone shops owners (there are quite a few) to update you on latest changes in cellphones related information. You can ask somebody in the mosque too. People do like to help newcomers.
3:  Amongst the choices you gave me, I'd say it is more of a personal
question of what one wanna explore in a city and my prefernces can be
based on a completely different set of choices/priorities than what a
person XYZ expects and hopes to see.

Another question : you listed Gwangju (it is good for study tours and
students) but quite similar is another city Gyeongju (it is a tourist
spot)...you reconfirm, which one is that?

My personal choice would have been:
Gyeongju (not in your list): for Bulguksa (a temple).
Busan (for Haeundae beach, really nice people and sea food)
and Daegu (maybe for apples)

By the way, all cities are quite similar in many ways than not. Do not
take my word for exploring city X. Google cities, all cities have very
comprehensive official websites and then select. Maybe I'll choose a
city for its architecture and you'd be looking for beaches or
mountains and it might not work. A little homework would do.

Question from Pakistan: 

I am from Lahore and shall be traveling to Seoul next week. My stay will be for three weeks in a hotel near COEX. Just need your advise, if I am not bothering you too much!!
It's a UNDP fellowship and I will remain busy in the work most of the time. How and what is the best way for getting Halal food in Seoul, as I am not into cooking food?

Answer: You can find halal food in Itaewon, especially the mosque's vicinity. There a a lot of choices. This place is also referred to as the  Muslim neighborhood. There is a take out option at every restaurant big and small. Moreover, you can buy frozen/canned food from Foreign Food Mart located about a 100 meters from exit 3 of Itaewon Subway Station on your way towards the mosque. For more on that please read this post or refer to the URL below:

Question from Pakistan: 

Is Seoul safe and can you advise me on the transport system and until what time shops are open at Itaewon?

Answer: Well, Itaewon is open until late hours but try to be there before 8:00p.m to see 100% open shops. On weekends subways and buses run until 12: 30 midnight. Seoul is the safest place on earth besides Tokyo,  so do NOT worry about traveling late by public transport or walking around by yourself.  I've lived in the US, France, Sweden and I'm comparing Seoul's safety with them so you can imagine.

Three weeks is a long duration so get a transport card and you can have free transfers between subways and buses which would otherwise cost you 1.45USD extra. Do NOT take black taxi (it charges twice as much ) but instead take orange or silver ones if you are lost and keep your address written in Korean language and in this way anyone will be "more" willing to help you. I'll recommend you to take subways because there is very little chance to get lost for newcomers and buses are good only if you really know your bus stops and exact bus numbers but do give them a try.

You can find nan and desi stuff at the Foreign Food Store which is near the mosque. Entire mosque neighborhood has many Turkish, Arab, Pakistani restaurants and is comparatively cheaper than any other place in Seoul.

I hope that you will enjoy Seoul and all the best!

Question from Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Pakistan:

We are visiting Seoul on an  official visit, how can we cover the tourist sites in 3 days?

Answer: There are many ways to discover Seoul and I suppose that my post on "12 Things to do in 24 Hours" will help you navigate Seoul,. For more on that read here or click the URL below:


Question from Pakistan:

I am writing to request information about minimum cgpa requirement for admissions in master(s) of science in engineering in south Korea. I have googled a lot but did not find requisite information. I will be very grateful for your help in this regard. I have [a] Bachelor of computer engineering with cgpa of 2.87/4 and ielts score of 6.5/9. Can I get admission with these marks.


Please check the link below for the eligibility for admissions in South Korea at one of their leading universities in Science and Technology called KAIST.


More or less, the universities have similar requirements for English language like:
  • Applicants must meet one of the English proficiency test minimum score requirements: TOEFL 550 (210 for computer-based; 80 for internet-based), IELTS 5.5, TEPS 550, TOEIC (Listening & Reading 750 + Speaking level 6 + Writing level 7) or higher.
  • English proficiency tests conducted before September 26, 2010 will not be considered for admission. The test should be taken two years prior to the online application deadline.
Usually the  Cumulative GPA must be over 3.20 out of 4.00 but still I will  suggest you to apply at various universities in Korea. Moreover, admissions for Pakistanis have to go through Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. I think you can get a lot of info from their website. Please call the South Korean Embassy in Islamabad and you can ask them directly too.  
I wish you the very best!

Question from Seoul, South Korea:

 While searching for Halal food, i found your blog and it really helped me a lot. Madam my Pakistani seniors have suggested me to purchase winter cloths as temperature in Seoul goes down up to -25 in winter. Some seniors suggested me to purchase just wind breaker jacket, while some others suggested me to purchase some warm jacket(cost around 400$, which i can not afford), so i am little bit confused.
Kindly suggest me some shops where i can buy warm cloths in reasonable price.
I think that the suggestion is good. You would need warm clothes anyhow since Seoul is very windy and though the temperatures hardly go down to minus 25 but the chill factor is much high.
Namdaemun and Dongdaemun do have stores that sell woollies for the winters.You must invest in one good jacket ( may be on sale at Nike or Adidas), woolen muffler, cap that can cover your ears.

Else, there are second hand stores and they have a countrywide chain called: "The Beautiful Stores" - try that....they have at times brand new/unused stuff for sale that goes there to raise money for different causes. Many clothes and household goods are sometimes sealed and new. Find one near your school or your residence. Buy warm sweaters at either the stores /markets mentioned above or at "Home Plus Stores" _ they are relatively cheap. You MUST visit  Beautiful Stores though.

You may visit Yonsei university neighborhood called Sinchon- they have all sorts of prices!
Also read my post on how to stay warm in winters...they are ruthless.

Buy an electric mat for your bed - there is likelihood of getting sick.

Best of Luck!

Question from the National University of Malaysia (UKM), Selangor, Malaysia:

"...K-pop is a total phenomenon in Malaysia. I was introduced to the Korean language through Korean dramas from my friends. Now, I wish to go there [South Korea] and stay with a Muslim Korean host family during the school holidays in this coming December, if that is possible... I was hoping for your opinions. 

Answer: Assalam Alaikum Nabilah , well home stay with a Muslim Korean family is indeed not impossible but definitely difficult to find. There is more likelihood of being accepted at a multicultural Muslim house of foreign men married to Korean women or vice-verse. You should consider that option. If you want - I can ask in person from Muslim Federation of Korea about such options and interests of families to host foreigners and in particular girls or yound women.

All the best and I'll update you in a few days since I have a conference in this week and I'm slightly busy.

All the best.

Question from Pakistan

 Hi, I have been selected for SRD scholarship (for combine program of M.Sc and PhD) of Dongguk University, Seoul, Korea...   And I will come to Korea INSHA ALLAH in the end of February 2013.  
One friend who is studying under the same program in dongguk has told me that 300,000 won is given by university and extra 300,000 won is given by the supervisor who mostly grant their student with this amount per month, kindly tell me whether this 600,000 won will be enough or not??? 
And as far as my part time job is concerned, you had told me that i will be needed to learn korean language, so how can I learn korean language now at my home, can you tell me any website on which all the lessons are easily accessible !!!   

Answer: My reply to his email was this:
Congratulations on getting accepted. I really wish you the very best in
2013 for your new projects and adventures.

I think that 600USD is the minimum money to pull you through your
monthly groceries but definitely it is NOT enough. It is a very tight
money...bare minimum. The most important part is that: ask your
adviser/university to provide you accommodation in the dorms
otherwise, you will be in BIG TROUBLE. I really mean it, mark my words
that you will be in BIG TROUBLE otherwise. So sort that issue out...

Now on learning Korean: well, for Korean language courses, please try
the following options but also try to Google yourself , however, check
this link on BBC about Korean language first and then the other links


1. Talk to Me in Korean ...they are pretty good :


2. You can learn BASIC Korean on Sogang University online Korean
language program here:


3. You can learn it with Kosnet as well - a program to teach Korean
online and it's quite useful:


There are thousands of such options and most important of all,  in
Islamabad we have a Korean language program at National University of
Modern Languages (NUML) so check that out. Go there or its other
campuses and register.
I guess there are Korean language programs being offered in other
cities and I forgot where are you from in Pakistan, so look for that
option too!

Last but not the least, apply for Korean Language scholarship at Korea
Foundation, if accepted you will be able to study Korean for FREE -
which is very expensive otherwise  - about 2000USD for a 2 months
course is the minimum amount one has to pay.

The best thing about Korea Foundation scholarship is that you will
study Korean, you will be given FREE accommodation and also 1200USD
per month but first of all you have to have a basic knowledge of
Korean and I will recommend you to register at NUML and study Korean.
Try to study at a government institution because other private
institutes are not recognized here in Korea so they will ultimately
disqualify you.

DO NOT say in your scholarship application that you are going to KOREA
already...they may disqualify you.

Check out the website below:


Best wishes,