With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Help in South Korea

South Korea Tourist Information: 02-1330 (available 24 hours a day)

  • The number is different depending on which city you are in.
  • Just add the city code to the front of the numbers 1330.
    • Seoul’s city code is 02.  (02-1330)
    • Incheon’s is 031. (031-1330)
  • If you don’t know your city’s code just call 02-1330. You can call it from anywhere in Korea.

You can call this number to find out how to get to Muuido, to ask when the Kim Chee Museum opens,  or to get any other information about Korea. I have a friend who calls this number when she needs quick and simple translations when talking to taxi drivers.

If you are in Korea and have a question about anything Korean, call and ask. If they don’t know the answer, they will give you the phone number of someone who does.

They offer help in many languages; not just English.

They also have many activities and programs for foreigners. In fact, it was at their Lunar New Year’s celebration where I met Mark, who I dated and eventually married.

At the address below there is a tourist library where you can look through and photocopy Lonely Planet books and other travel guides. You can also use their computer and internet. I think it’s free, but I’m not 100% sure. The map to their Seoul Korean Tourism Office is on the right or above depending on what browser you’re using.

Address: 40, Cheongyecheonno,  Jung-gu, Seoul 100-180

Hours: 9:00 – 20:00

Front desk phone: +82-2-7299-497~499

Seoul Global Center: 82-2-1688-0120

There are many services the Seoul Global Center can offer non-Koreans working in Seoul and people who are just visiting. The one I would like to focus on here is the help they provide for English teachers with bad bosses. They provide free help with settling disputes for non-Korean employees every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 2:00 to 17:00. You can call or stop by. They might not be very effective though.

How to get there: Go to City Hall Station exit 4. Walk straight for about 50 meters. Go to the Seoul Pres Center building then to the 3rd floor.


Go to Gwanghwamun Station exit 5. Walk 300 meters to the Seoul Pres Center building then to the 3rd floor.

Medical Referral Service: 010-4769-8212 or 010-8750-8212


  • 8:00 – 20:00 regular hours
  • 20:00 – 8:00 emergencies only

e-mail: medicalreferral@seoul.go.kr

Incheon Help Center for Foreigners: 032-451-1800~3

You can get help here for many things from free Korean lessons to free marriage counseling. They help with disputes between English teachers and Korean bosses. They also have services for tourists.

Hours: Everyday from 10:00 to 18:00.

According to the program manager, the first step in filing a formal complaint against your boss is to go to this Center. Then someone from the Center will talk to your boss. If things are still not resolved someone at the Center will assist you in filing with the Ministry of Labor.

It helps if you have a copy of your contract and all your pay subs.

The nearest subway station is the Art Center Station on Incheon line 1.

Sahmyook Health & Nursing College: Free Dental Cleaning

I was told about this by a friend. I hadn’t gone there myself. It’s on the 4th floor of the building. The free dental cleaning is available on Saturdays from 1:30 to 16:30.

Go to Hoegi Station exit 1 or 2. I don’t have more directions. It should be easy to find, hopefully.

National Pension:

Pension OfficeWhen you work in Korea, whether you’re Korean or not, you must pay into the pension fund. You pay 4.5% of your base  salary each month and your boss must match it, with his own money, to make a total of 9% of your base salary going into your pension every month. This is 9% of what your contract says is the minimum amount you get paid every month.

If you are not lucky enough to be Canadian, German, French, Hungarian, Australian, Belgian, or from the United States or the Czech Republic, you will never see any of the money again. But, if you are lucky, you can easily get your 4.5% back plus the amount your employer put in, if you fill out the right forms prior to leaving the country.

All you need to do is to go to any of the many pension offices in Korea and fill out an easy form. Make sure to bring:

  1.  your passport
  2. a canceled check or bank statement; something with your name, account number and bank routing number on it
  3.  your Alien Registration Card
  4.  a copy of your plane/boat ticket out of Korea; The date of departure must be within one month of filing.

Don’t worry, there isn’t a time limit for you to file for your money. You can also file to get your money after you’ve left Korea, but it’s easier to do it before you leave. Once out of the country getting the money back requires some notarizations and communications by the Korean embassy on your behalf to Korea, to proof that you are, in fact, not in Korea.

After you leave Korea, the pension office waits until you have been paid your last pay check before processing your claim. It could take up to 2 months. But if you have any questions you can ask them online by going here. They usually response within a few days.

If you think that your boss isn’t paying your pension, you can contact the pension office to ask. If they determine that your boss isn’t paying as he should, they will order him or her to pay the delinquent amount or repossess some of your boss’ property. It will help your case if you keep a copy of all your pay slips and your contract. Some bosses lie about their employees’ start date and/ or monthly salary in order to pay less than they should into the national pension.

Korean Postal Service: Surface Mail

When it’s time to go, either home or to some other country, and you’ve packed up all your stuff, you might realize that your luggage is over weight. What do you do?

Well, one option is to mail your junk home. The Korean Post Office has a very cheap surface mail rate. It might take up to 2 months for you and your possessions to be reunited, but you’re probably going to go backpacking through South East Asia anyway.

There are 6 sizes of boxes, but only sizes 1 through 5 can be shipped internationally. The maximum weight per box is 20kg. Getting a box over the 20kg limit is pretty hard unless you are filling your boxes with those wavy-sided bricks they like to pave the roads with here.

To find a post office near you, just look at the area map at the nearest subway, ask a coworker, or call (your city code)-1330.

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