How to: Survive winter in Korea

Winter has arrived. The morning frosts, the icy winds, the short days and long nights, the treacherous icy sludgy, the frozen  fingers and face, the sight of your breath . The COLD!

This is my plan on how I’m going to survive the next, and last, 3 months in sub-zero, snowy Korea.

1. Make full use of my ondal. This is the fantastic under-floor heating system that is installed in every Korean house. Traditionally this used to be a fire pit underneath the house that heated up stone blocks, but these days it is much more sophisticated its gone electric! Simply turn on a switch and wonderful heat will start rising up from the floor. You can even (if you can figure it out!) put it on a timer so that your floor is lovely and warm when you get home from work.

Keep warm with an animal on your head!

2. Rug up in wooly scarves, hats and gloves. They are all over the place now, and you can buy these essentials cheaply. In every colours and style your heart could desire. Heck, you can even get an animal to keep your head warm if you like.

3. Take full advantage of Korean winter snacks. Delights such as hodak, ingah bang only come out when the weather turns nasty. Hodak can be compared to a pancake, except it is thicker and better with cinnamon sugar and nuts melted in the middle. Ingah bang  is a treat backed in the shape of a fish, filled with either sweet red beans or a custardy delight. Both of these are delicious, warm treats that smell so good you simply can’t say no. Honestly, it is worth taking your glove off to eat these!

The sweet, warm ingah bang.

4.  Do things I can only do in winter. Things like skiing, ice fishing, outdoor skating, snowman making and the like. Thinking about these things gets me feeling excited about the snow that will surely be upon us soon.

5. Do things that I can only do inside, sitting on my heated floor with my fluffy socks on. Things like updating my blog more often, get around to catching up on my travel writing course, plan my travels for next year, finish reading A Song of Ice and Fire. Doesn’t sound too bad!

6. Flee the country for my winter holiday. Come January I’m out of here and headed to the tropics for a little bit of sun and island hopping in the Philippines. Then I will ease my way back into the Korean winter with a 6 day stop over in Hong Kong to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

And somehow, winter isn’t sounding too bad to me anymore. I think I might just survive!

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3 responses to “How to: Survive winter in Korea

  1. I am missing Korean winter bad, except for the fact that Korea never seemed to have a good infrastructure in place for dealing with snow removal. There were so many times I saw shopkeepers simply sweeping away very deep, impacted snow from their doorsteps with those little brooms they have. And I NEVER saw a snow plow in the road. Yay, Seoul.

    • You’re missing it?! Haha. I am not a big fan of the cold, being from South Africa and all I am just not used to it.
      Now that you mention that I have never seen a snow plow either, although, of course, this wasn’t strange for me because I simply didn’t even think to look for one!
      One thing I hate is the heating at schools and the fact that it is so rationed! I remember teaching with my gloves on last year because my school was so cold…I’m hoping my new school will turn the heating on soon!

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