Korea is a country of four seasons. It has a gorgeous spring with so many different kinds of flowers in full bloom, including everyone’s favorite: cherry blossoms. It has a hot and humid summer that is at its best at the beginning and end of the season. It also has a short fall, during which the leaves turn into beautiful rustic colors all around the country. And finally, it has a winter that is cold and dry, and sometimes snowy as well.
And because winter in Korea does get cold, it’s important to know just how to get through it without freezing. Maybe even take a little enjoyment by finding ways to stay warm. Even if you come from a colder region, the difference in climate, and the way the buildings here are built and heated, just may come as a surprise to you. But if you read this post, you’ll absolutely be prepared to take on your next winter in Korea!
1. Ondol = Floor Heating
A majority of the apartments in Korea are heated with 온돌 (ondol), which means floor heating. It’s operated by gas. Especially if you live in a newer building, you likely won’t have to worry too much about the monthly fees climbing up when using the ondol. At least not if you are using it sensibly instead of just madly blasting it throughout the entire winter. There are settings on the panel to ensure that, though each building has a different type of panel, you may want to ask for help from a Korean friend or another friend who’s lived in Korea longer on how to operate it. Once you’ve figured it out though, you’re already one step closer to feeling comfortably toasty throughout the winter!
2. Electric Blanket
Those who are worried about their gas bills skyrocketing during winter can easily opt to using an electric blanket at their homes instead. There are different types you can use. Most popular are underblankets, which you put between your mattress and bed sheet. Alternatively, you can also use one as a duvet or together with your duvet. As the electric blanket can get really hot, you don’t need to keep it on all the time for it to keep you warm.
3. Bubblewrap On The Windows
This is a method that many Koreans use, especially in older buildings. The windows in Korea aren’t typically built to be the thickest and sturdiest so, especially on a windy day, it’s easy for the cold air to get in. To combat this Koreans will cover their windows with bubble wrap on all of the inner sides for cheap cold relief that lasts all winter. All you need is a spray bottle with water in it and some sheets of bubble wrap. Spray the sides of the window with water and press the bubble wrap to the edges. The water will hold the bubble wrap to the window while you enjoy a warmer home.
4. Heat Packs
Now, we may have covered how to stay warm and cozy indoors, but what about when you actually have to go outside? Just stop by Olive Young and get yourself some heat packs! You will have to put a little bit of effort into triggering the warming effect, but once you do just keep the heat pack in your pocket, or in your hand, and your fingers will absolutely thank you for it.
5. Heat Patches
If you feel like heat packs just aren’t quite enough, you can also find heat patches at Olive Young and similar stores. The way the heat patches work is that you simply stick it on a part of your body, most likely your back, and let it work its magic keeping you warm for a few hours. It’s not healthy to keep the heat patch on for too long, but it’s a good thing to try for a short time on a cold day!
6. Heat Tech and Thermal Clothing
The Japanese brand UNIQLO is famous for their basic sets of clothes that come with heat tech aka heating technology, but a lot of local Korean brands have jumped on board in the past few years as well in creating leggings and under layers that come with thermal effects. They alone won’t save you from the coldness of the winter, but they’re definitely the warmest choice of clothing you could go for besides your winter coat (and the thickest knit you could possibly come across at a clothing store).
7. Hot Drinks and Hot Food
Not only do you get something delicious to fill up your belly with, your fingers will also thank you for the heat coming from holding the cup or food! So drop by a convenience store, a coffee shop, or a street food stand, and get your fill of hot drinks and hot food the next time you begin to feel chilly during winter in Korea.
8. Jjimjilbang Or Hot Spring It Up
Who said that you can’t make winter in Korea your playground and get into some warmer activities? Because you most definitely can! Jjimjilbangs are absolutely everywhere and usually offer several saunas and hot pools to choose from. So not only do you get to wash up and have a moment to relax, you’ll also totally forget it’s -20°C outside! Alternatively, Korea has also made the best of their water parks and now even offer ones that operate just as normal in the winter time in certain regions by using the water of the hot springs! It’ll definitely be your hottest day outdoors this winter in Korea!
So now that you know how to stay warm this winter hopefully you’ll not only survive, but thrive! What do you think is the best way to stay warm in the Korean winters? Let us know in the comments below!
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