|Population:||50,062,000 (2009 est.)|
|Currency:||International symbol ₩, pronounced Won (KRW)|
|Hitchability:||<rating country='kr' />|
|More info:||AVP Free Encyclopedia (Russian)|
|Meet fellow hitchhikers on Trustroots|
|<map lat='35.85' lng='127.5' zoom='6' view='0' height='320px' country='South Korea' />|
South Korea is a country in East Asia. It has a land border with North Korea, but travel there is restricted. There are ferry services from Busan to Japan, from Seoul to China, and from Donghae and Sokcho to Russia.
Koreans are generally friendly, honest, and generous people who often drive big cars which are usually empty. Hitchhiking is easy here for foreigners, extremely easy if you are reasonably well dressed and clean shaven, but this is not essential. According to some hitchhikers, waiting times are minimal and there is less need to worry about position.
The motorway service stations (휴게소, hyu-ge-so) are easy to get lifts from, they often have tourist information centres with free roadmaps, free internet access and excellent cheap food. Tollgates are also good places to hitch. Technically a hitchhiker shouldn't stand on the motorway side of a tollgate, but cars often pull up here anyway, and the tollgate staff rarely object to you standing on the motorway side of the tollgate. Sometimes tollgate staff may even help you by asking drivers their destination, and asking them to give you lifts if they are going your way!
Write hitchiking signs in Hangul (Korean alphabet); place names on road signs are generally in Hangul and English, so you can copy the Hangul from road signs. A map in Hangul is useful, and one in English if you can't read Korean.
Korean drivers may try to take you to bus or train stations (they mean well). Also many of them are completely incapable of reading paper maps, relying instead on satellite navigation.
Few Koreans speak a lot of English. Many may understand some very basic words.
The Korean language is heavily steeped in formality and politeness. When speaking Korean, it is generally best to end every sentence with -yo. This is the 'polite' level of speaking. If you don't, you may be forgiven as an unknowing foreigner, but a little politeness goes a long way! Most Koreans are thrilled that a foreigner has taken a little time to learn some of their language.
Some important phrases
|Hello||An-nyong haseyo = Be healthy/peaceful|
|Good bye!||An-nyong-hi ka-seyo! = Go in health/peace||--(used if the person you are addressing is leaving)|
|Good bye!||An-nyong-hi gyeh-seyo! = Stay in health/peace||--(if the person you are addressing is staying somewhere)|
|Thank you||Kamsa hamnida/Gomap sumnida||-- note: this uses the formal -mnida ending, so don't add -yo.|
|Where are you going?||Odi ga-yo? (lit. where go?)|
|here||Yogi-eh-yo (lit. here-at (polite ending))||--(use this if you're pointing at a map.)|
|Please||juseyo||-- used with verbs, eg. '...-eh ga-juseyo' = take me to ..., please (lit. ...-at go please) or 'Mohm-chu juseyo' = stop please|
|Motorway service station||hyu-ge-so|
|Interchange||IC pronounced "ee shee", most Koreans seem to understand the word "tollgate"|
Hitchhiking for females
If you are a girl, you should be careful hitchiking in South Korea. People may think you are a Russian prostitute (there is apparently a large number of them in the country). You will probably have to explain to your driver why you are standing on the side of the highway, and because of the shortage of English speakers, it may be extremely hard for you to do this.
The border to North Korea is closed. The ferry crossing (from Busan) to Japan is quite easy, as all the customs and immigration people speak English. Ferries to several places in China leave from Incheon.
Compared to some other Asian countries, it is not common for the local people in South Korea to invite travellers to their homes. A tent is useful. Finding a place to sleep just outside of cities can sometimes be difficult, as this is a densely populated country and often the outskirts of one city are simply the beginning of another city. However, there are rural places that are easy to reach from city centres, such as the mountains outside of Seoul. If you don't mind sleeping in the streets, city parks are very good option, being central with clean toilets nearby. The only problem is that Koreans love their early morning sports. In cities you can usually find a Korean sauna (jjimjilbang) with a sleeping room for a few dollars.
Note from user Alistril: I have waited a long time before contradicting this section in writing but after one month of hitchhiking in Korea I have come to the conclusion that this is a mistake. Koreans, even though they are shy, do invite people to their homes and it is common. Because of their harsh history feel the need to help a stranded traveller, even more so if you have a bit of a story to tell.