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Korea Army Post Review (3)

Your Name (if you would like it to appear):

Dreamy

Base Name:

Yongsan

Base Location:

S. Korea, Seoul

How long have you been here? (give years please, ex. 2003-present)

2008 – 2010 Command Sponsored

What is housing like? On-post? (waiting list, conditions, etc.) Off-post? Any areas to stay away from? Average price to rent or buy?

On Post

Lower Enlisted and Junior NCO’s are in High Rise Housing at Hannam Village, which is about a 15 minute walk to post but shuttles run hourly. The housing is based on rank and family size. There is a waiting list and it will depend on when you get here as it changes all the time. The housing is small and a little cramped. AC is provided by individual units in each room. The heat is controlled by the post and usually runs from October-April. No pets are allowed at Hannam Village so do not bring them with you if you plan to live on post.\

Senior Enlisted and Officers have several areas that are open to them. Hannam, South Post, Black Hawk Village, Burke Tower and Itaewon Acres. Type of housing that you receive does depend on where you live. It is best to research at the Housing One Stop once you know what you qualify for. Pets are allowed on South Post.

Off Post

There are several different types of apartments here in Seoul. High Rise, Villa and Single Family Home. The single family homes are VERY hard to find and super expensive so don’t even try it.

Villas are usually in 4-8 story buildings and some don’t have elevators. The villa is large and comfortable and the price is comparable to the highrise. Most of the time utilities are not included in the price of rent. So please be aware of this when you are making your choice of where to live. Rent is usually 2000-4000 dollars a month. You are paid OHA and a deposit

My Apartment:

I live in a high rise. My rent is almost 3500 a month and that includes utilities. What we don’t use out of our utilities it is given back to us at the end of the contract year. In the winter it is roughly 400 dollars and in the summer 600. The amount you get for utilities does change. So don’t count on it until you get your housing contract.

I do have in floor heating or ondul. This is my FAVORITE thing about our apartment. Our heating bill is usually 80 bucks in the winter and that is keeping the house at 72 degrees all day long. The toasty warm floors do come with a price. You feet will dry out faster so make sure to keep them moisturized!

Summer is HOT here so make sure to plan ahead of the AC costs. We went hog wild with AC last year and we paid for it later. Our electricity bill for July and August was 1000 dollars. Only use it when you have to. Buy lots of 220 fans. We didn’t use the AC at all in June and our bill was 150. In Seoul you are given a certain amount for eletricity and each unit you use over that amount they can double and even triple. So make sure you talk to your realtor about the rates in your building.

Video Link to my apartment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ub26Msz4Hxs

Housing does provide nice furniture but I would bring your own bed and couch. You only get 50% of your move allowance for the states so please be aware of that amount when moving here. There isn’t always a lot of storage areas in some places.

My suggestion

When choosing a place to live look at traffic, bus and subway accessibility and how far it is from post. Most people either live in Itaewon, Park Towers or CJNine Park. If you are wanting to truly absorb the culture living off post is the best way to do so! I like the high rises but others want the larger SQ footage of the villa. It is all about personal preference. Make sure to check for mold, since it gets extremely humid here in the summer mold is often found everywhere. Do not rent a place that has mold.

Rate the PX & Commissary.

PX: It is okay. I am not a fan of the clothing selection. Unless you are a size 0 or a 90 year old Korean lady, you will not care for the women’s clothing. There is barely a maternity section and the shoes are not that great. It will be a good resource when you have no other option and need something that day.

Commissary is great for frozen or prepackaged items on the shelf. I do not recommend their produce at all, it goes rotten after a day and frankly poor quality. Buy it off post and wash it with produce wash.

Activities on base?

Movie theater, bowling alley, a couple bars and nice restaurants of course. There is a family fun center, a driving range, several pools and one indoor pool. There is a decent Arts and Craft shop that has classes and plenty of things you can do on your own. The children’s clubs are very active during the summer and has something going on at least once a week.

Since we are in a foreign country, we limit our time on base. We spend a majority of our time off post and exploring.

Active Spouses Club?

Yes! There is the American Forces Spouses Club! I love this organization and have volunteered through them since I got here. They always have something planned and have monthly luncheons. You also have volunteer opportunities and the ability to work in the Chosun Gift Shop. I would highly recommend joining!

Things to do in area?

What isn’t there to do!?! Seoul is a large wonderful city that always has something for everyone.

Shopping

Itaewon, Nandaemun, Dondaemun, and Insadong are just a few of the shopping districts here. Seoul is a large city and shopping is one of the favored activities here. You won’t find as many “American” style malls but there are a couple great open air markets like The ones I mentioned above. Insadong and Dondaemun are my favorites.

Insadong is the most fun in the summer on Saturdays. There are traditional tea houses, antique stores, restaurants, and demonstrations everywhere. I love the homemade jewelry and pottery that you can get here. Plus it is much cheaper than Itaewon for souvenirs and the vendors are always willing to bargain.

Dondaemun is where some of the best shopping is found. There is a fashion district, a fabric market, a toy center, and book and craft alley. It is one big open air market and it is best to go on a Saturday. Sundays are slower and not as many of the shops are open. I have gotten some great deals on fabric, clothing and pet supplies here.

Restaurants

Beef and Leaf/BBQ places are the best to enjoy. The meat is cooked in front of you and you get unlimited side dishes to fill you up. Do not be afraid of trying everything in the little bowls. Kimchi is the staple of Korean food, while it can be spicy it is something you can not come to Korea and not try!

I love trying all the little hole in the wall restaurants. They are small with one or two tables but the food is homecooked and amazing. My favorite dish is Cheesy Ramen with gimbap.

Stay away from “American” type resturants like Outback. It is very expensive and the portions are smaller and they do not taste the same.

One thing you will see everywhere are food stands. Korean Street food is everywhere and very yummy! I love dokbokii and gimaree. I eat it exclusively in the winter time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzjajL1lOh0 : introduction to street food.

Waterparks

This is something new to Korea. The parks are not always the same as the ones in the states but they can be a lot of fun. They are a little expensive but still have the basic slides and wave pools. It is worth going to if you love waterparks!

Amusement Parks

Everland and Lotte World are the largest ones in Korea. I would suggest going to both.

I like Lotte World but only if you have small children and love long waits in line. The park is inside so avoid going in the summer or during Korean holidays. I went on a Tuesday and found it wasn’t as crowded. It is a popular date spot. There is a great museum that is also included in the price of admission. I would compare the rides to a decent state fair.

Everland is more a long the lines of Disney World. There are more rides and shows than Lotte World and it is completely outside. But the rides are not as exciting as some of the parks we have in the states. Do not expect large roller coasters. They do have a sledding hill there in the winter and a smallish zoo. I went in the winter and found it to be not crowded and I was able to ride almost anything we wanted more than once.

Sauna/Spa/public Baths

I love them. I have gone a couple times and found them to be a wonderful relaxing atmosphere. Since I can’t comment on all I will just recommend the one I went to. The Dragon Hill Spa(not affiliated with the Dragon Hill Lodge on post) is clean and hygienic. It is located next to the Ipark mall in Yongsan and close to the Electronics Market. It wasn’t expensive, about 12000 won, for one person to go swimming and enjoy the baths, steam rooms and sweat rooms. Bring your own towel and cleaning products. Also, this is a naked area, so be aware that many of the people in your bath area will be naked. I got over it rather quickly, just as much as you aren’t looking at them, they aren’t looking at you.

They do have several packages but I would skip the massage. The Asian massage is very different then in the states and you will feel like they are beating you up. I have gotten bruises before, so I recommend skipping it.

Other Cities

Osan: I love Osan, they have the best purses off post and their BX is a little better. This is an AF base so IMHO the facilities are nicer. They also have a Chili’s on post. Also this is the best place to purchase Mink blankets. Do not get them in Itaewaon.

Sokcho: Quite possible my favorite place in Korea. It is a smallish seaside village that has beautiful mountains for hiking and camping and the Sea of Japan for swimming and fishing. Mt Soraksan is here and is one of the most beautiful areas in all of Korea. It is about 2 hours drive from Seoul with no traffic and is a little on the expensive side, but very worth going to. We love the Seafood market where you can get fresh(like just off the boat) fish and crab. I had a crab that they just got off the boat and it was steamed right then and there. It was amazingly good.

This is just a small slice of things to do. There are tons of museums, historical sites and even folk villages(think Williamsburg VA) that you can go to as well. I could write a book about all the places we have been to. Do not be afraid to get lost here! You often find the best stuff when you are, I know we did!

School System?

No children. There is an elementary, middle school and high school on post.

Any colleges in area?

There is an education center on post that has some classes and offers online classes as well. It is the typical online schools of UMCC and Central Texas. There are tons of wonderful local colleges off post but I am not sure of the requirements for enrollment.

Jobs? (on post and off)

Off Post: If you are planning to teach English, get the proper visa, talk with the US Embassy for this. Do not do so without it. You can get deported, fined and your spouse will get in trouble. Is it worth it? There are several schools that will hire you if you have a college degree. I loved teaching here off post and one family has become so special to me. They have even planned a visit to us in Germany(our next duty station). If you speak Korean and English there will always be companies that would love to hire you. There is also the US Embassy as well.

On Post: Just like in the states it is who you know. There are jobs at the commissary and the PX but those are usually taken by Korean Nationals. It is getting better for spouses here to get jobs but the process is slow. If you are a teacher, in the medical profession or childcare you will find a job easily.

Favorite aspect of this base/surrounding city?

Being in such a large city. There is a great public transportation system and there is always something going on.

Least favorite aspect?

Nothing. Korea is a wonderful tour. It does suck to be away from family and you can make any situation negative, but Korea is one of the best overseas tours available.

Any other tips?

There are tons of little booths that say “Tourist Info” all over Seoul. Do not be afraid to go in one! They have maps, magazines, tourist pamphlets and discount coupons.

Links to help you on your journey to the Land of the Morning Calm.

http://www.eatyourkimchi.com – a foreingers guide to Korea

http://www.facebook.com/youryongsan – Yongsan FB page

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Yongsan-South-Korea/US-Forces-Korea-Official-Page/425064710222 – USFK page

http://yongsan.korea.army.mil/ Yongsan Main page

http://www.army.mil/-news/2008/06/26/10400-planning-your-move-to-korea/index.html plan your move

http://www.army.mil/-news/2008/07/24/11206-what-to-expect-when-you-arrive-at-incheon-airport/index.html Airport FAQ

http://www.army.mil/-news/2008/06/26/10406-shopping-with-a-ration-control-card/index.html Ration Control

http://www.army.mil/-news/2008/07/23/11109-yongsan-readiness-center-adjusts-newcomer-orientation-program/index.html – Newcomer info

http://www.army.mil/-news/2008/07/14/10840-commanders-corner-sponsorship-is-a-vital-mission/ Sponsorship

http://www.army.mil/-news/2008/07/02/10551-acs-explains-sofa-stamp-a3-visa-procedures/index.html Visa info

http://www.army.mil/-news/2008/06/26/10398-bringing-a-pet-to-korea/index.html Pet Info

About the author: This article was contributed by a visitor to the site. If you would like to contribute to the site as well, please email me.

{ 15 comments… add one }
  • angel August 25, 2010, 12:04 am

    how long have you been in korea? how long did it take you to come over as a spouse? i have been told a few different things. i was told i had to wait 3-4 weeks then i was told i prob had to wait 3-4months for all of the sponsorship paperwork etc to be processed? what is your exp with this. your info was so informative thank you. ps where did you go to get all of your relocation and housing info before you left the states. i would like to go asap. i really do not want to wait 3-4 months…does it matter if we have kids…does that delay the process?

    • dreamy October 30, 2010, 4:09 pm

      No problem! I love helping people out, there wasn’t anyone one Command Sponsored on the board when I left so I had to do everything blind.

      We had a 5 month wait for me to join him in Korea. It wasn’t great but I was glad we waited.

      I went totally blind. CS in Korea we just starting so I had only basic stuff to go on. The ladies from Casey did give me a lot of information but since they came over NonCS they couldn’t help me with the relocation stuff. Does your husband have a sponsor? I would go to him first and foremost.

      I don’t know I don’t have children. I do have several friends with children and I do know that it did take a little longer with passports and the EFMP but it wasn’t much past what I waited.

  • Marcie August 27, 2010, 11:15 am

    Wow! Great post and tons of info! Thank you so much for explaining and going above and beyond in describing everything. I check this site often for reviews on the different posts and this was great. My hubby is considering Korea and until reading this I was unsure. I think that now I can make the best of it and may actually enjoy it if it comes about. Thanks again for all the info!!

    • Stacey August 27, 2010, 4:38 pm

      Thanks to those visitors who volunteered the information. If you go with him, you’ll have to submit your own review. 🙂

    • dreamy October 30, 2010, 4:11 pm

      🙂

      Thanks! I totally believe that each post is what you make of it. If you go into Korea determined to have a great time…you will!

      If you end up going drink a soju kettle and eat some Cheesy Raymeon for me!

  • angel August 27, 2010, 6:57 pm

    yea of course

  • AmyLyn September 12, 2010, 4:59 pm

    Amazing post. Thanks!!!!

  • nhi hernandez November 15, 2010, 10:09 pm

    ok so i have a question ppl my husband is station there is korea and he wants us to join him over there… but i have to do the over sea screening and the closes army base to me is about five hours away to do the paper work for over screen test and i have a daughter so there for i can’t just go that far cause my my busy schedule with school also… any advice or help like if i wanted to fax my husband our medical record and paper work would he be able to do the paper work hisself… please help and thank you…

    • Stacey November 16, 2010, 12:21 pm

      As far as I’m aware, the screening is required. You’ll also need to apply for a no fee passport. You can call the transportation office at the nearest post and ask if it’s possible to take care of it remotely. Also, I’ve heard rumors that command sponsorship for Korea has been extended so he may want to ask around about that.

      • nhi hernandez November 16, 2010, 10:11 pm

        thank you i will for sure apply for the no fee passport… would you by any chance kno the estimate about how long it would take…

  • Christina March 29, 2011, 6:17 pm

    WOW! Thanks for all that info! You have put my mind at ease:) My husband is considering being stationed there & I was nervous when he told me this! But it seems like it would be really wonderful!

  • Marissa September 13, 2011, 1:43 pm

    Hello,

    My husband just got orders for Korea. I want my son and I to go with him. What all do I need to get done on my end? He is still waiting for the command sponsorship paperwork. His squad leader at AIT has not been very helpful. I read online that the on post housing is a long wait, and that off post housing is easier to get into, is that true? I figured we could go with him and stay at a hotel until we found off post housing…. I appreciate any help, thank you!

    • cassie coley April 16, 2013, 12:36 pm

      was u guys able to move off post

  • cassie coley April 16, 2013, 12:35 pm

    we have orders for korea in july how long is the waiting period for military housing

  • Kevin Johnson May 2, 2015, 12:07 am

    My wife and I are thinking about coming to Korea for our next duty station. She’s an officer and I work on base here in San Antonio Tx in the PX as a Barber. Do you know if I would be able to cut hair on base in Korea as well. Most people I’ve spoke with said they only seen Korean women barbers.

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