Adjusting to Korean Life - Waste Disposal

Adjusting to Korean Life - Waste Disposal

Adjusting to Korean Life - Waste Disposal

Seoul, as well as the rest of Korea, has strict regulations regarding waste disposal and recycling. If you do not dispose of your waste and recycling in the proper manner you can be fined. This includes separating your trash into food waste, recycling, and general waste. Depending on your city, district (구), and which neighborhood (동) you live in, your garbage pickup day will vary. Below is information regarding the waste disposal system and proper ways to dispose of, recycle, and donate items.

General Trash Bags (일반 쓰레기 봉투)

  • Bags can normally be purchased at convenience stores and marts. Residential general trash bags come in 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100L sizes. In terms of cost, for example, in Seoul, the cost is KRW 4,400 for ten 20L bags.

  • Collection times are printed on the bags - place the full trash bags in designated locations

  • Bags are district specific - be sure to buy bags in your district

  • Some marts use special grocery bags that can be reused for general trash. They will be labeled as such. Not all bags you receive from marts are able to be used as trash bags.

General Trash Bag.JPG

Food Waste Bags (음식물 쓰레기 봉투)

  • These bags are smaller and are a different color than the general trash bags. Residential food trash bags come in 2, 3, 5, and 10L sizes. In terms of cost, for example, in Seoul, the cost is KRW 1,800 for ten 2L bags.

  • Some areas (like large apartment complexes) use large containers that keep track of the food waste weight instead of using bags. Simply empty your collected food waste into this container.

  • Food waste bags can be purchased at convenience stores and marts and are district specific.

  • Food waste is collected more frequently than general trash.

  • Remove as much moisture as you can from food waste before disposal, do not include waste that could not be consumed by livestock such as fruit pits, nutshells, egg shells, bones, etc.

Food Trash Bag.JPGFood_Waste.PNG

Recycling (재활용)

  • No specific bag or receptacle unless your housing complex provides them

    • Most large housing complexes will have separate containers labeled for plastic (플라스틱), metal (철), glass (유리), vinyl (비닐), styrofoam (스티로폼), paper (종이), etc.

  • If you do not have appropriate receptacles in your building. Place your recycling streetside in any plastic bag the same day as general trash pickup

  • There are rules as to what is considered recyclable or not. Here is an example list from Jung-gu in Seoul. Busan’s list is here.

Large item disposal (대형 폐기물)

  • Large items require that a fee be paid and a special label attached to the item for pickup and disposal

  • Visit your local neighborhood office (주민센터) to pay a fee and receive a label. This fee could range anywhere from KRW 2,000 for smaller items like a 13” TV to KRW 15,000 for a piano

  • Place the item street side on the appropriate pickup date

Helpful Phrases

What day can I throw out my garbage? (무슨 요일에 쓰레기 버려도 돼요?)

Do you have general trash bags? (일반 쓰레기 봉투 있으세요?)

Do you have food waste bags? (음식물 쓰레기 봉투 있으세요?)

Can I throw this away with food waste? (이것은 음식물 쓰레기와 버려도 돼요?)

How much is it for just one bag? (한 봉투만 얼마예요?)

Please give me ten of the 10 liter bags. (십리터 봉투 10매 주세요)

Can I recycle this? (제가 이것을 재활용 할 수 있어요?)

Where do I put my recycling? (재활용은 어디에서 놓아도 돼요?)

I want to donate this. (제가 이것을 기부하고 싶어요.)

Please accept this for free. (무료로 받아 주세요.)

Donations (기부)

Below are a few places where you can donate goods within Korea. You may also find donation bins at large apartment complexes or officetels. Some donations may be tax deductible in partial or whole.

Garbage/refuse pickers (폐지 줍는 사람)

You may also see garbage/refuse pickers (폐지 줍는 사람) in Korea. They are a common sight in Seoul as well as other parts of Korea. They are usually pulling wheeled carts stacked high with cardboard and other recyclables. Some businesses even agree to give their boxes and other recyclables to specific people. The recyclable items are then turned in at recycling centers for money.

Articles Regarding Waste & Recycling in Seoul

Are you curious on how Seoul manages waste for 10 million residents? Here are some articles about recycling and waste management in Seoul:


Contact the G.O.A.’L Community Mentor for any questions regarding settling in Korea.

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Do-It-Yourself Cooking Class (갈비찜과 오이소박이)

Do-It-Yourself Cooking Class (갈비찜과 오이소박이)



On Monday, June 13, 2016. Hoya Cooks hosted G.O.A.’L’s Do-It-Yourself Cooking Class. We made Braised Beef Short Ribs (갈비찜) and Cucumber Kimchi (오이소박이).


At every cooking class, we first watch a demonstration of how to prepare each dish


Then, it’s our turn to recreate what the chef showed us


Afterwards, we get to enjoy the delicious results


The cooking classes are a great opportunity for networking and learning how to make your favorite dishes on a budget without losing any of the authentic taste. It’s easy enough to do at home in Korea or wherever else in the world you may find yourself craving Korean food.


Thanks for attending! See you next time!

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Thank you from Nik

Thank you from Nik

Dear Adoptee Community,

First, I would like to thank everyone for their support during my term as secretary general at G.O.A.’L. It has been an honor to serve the community through this particular organization, and I couldn’t have done it for these past three years without the hard work and dedication of the staff, the support of the previous leadership, our members, and all of the many volunteers who have given their time and effort to help bring stability to G.O.A.’L.

Looking back, G.O.A.’L has been incredibly busy, putting in thousands of hours to assist hundreds of adoptees with birth family searches, obtaining F-4 visas and dual citizenship, and connecting members with volunteers for translation and interpretation. We have subsidized hundreds of hours of therapy, hosted over 100 events, and worked to expand adoptees’ rights to access information in their files and improve policies related to birth family search at the National Assembly. Many internal changes have been made as well to further strengthen the organization and ensure that future leadership will be able to focus on the important work at hand. These accomplishments were made possible thanks to the support of all our volunteers, Mentors, staff, advisors, participants, members and more.

We have also developed new fundraising drives that have brought in much needed funds and increased our membership by more than 50%. Moving our office to a new location has additionally helped us to reduce fixed costs. Another project we are working on should help us to further stabilize our organization’s financial foundation, bringing it one step closer to self-reliance and ensuring that G.O.A.’L will be able to continue as a resource for future waves of returning adoptees for years to come. Again, these have been made possible through the support of our sponsors, donors, contributors, backers, boosters, advocates, champions, and more.

The experience of working at G.O.A.'L has been completely extraordinary. I feel privileged to have been part of so many adoptees’ journeys during my time here, and I want to thank all of you for sharing your stories with us. A special thanks goes out to all of you who have stopped by our office over the past few years or sent a kind email to one of the staff members letting us know how much you appreciated our effort and thanking us for the work we do. It helps energize and inspire us to keep working despite the long hours and low pay.

This will be my last year serving as secretary general. My term will end on December 31st, and the annual Christmas Party will be the last event I work on this year. I plan to continue assisting the organization as an internal advisor and will do everything I can to make the transition between leadership as smooth as possible.

I know it may take some time for G.O.A.’L to recruit a new SG, and so, I would like to invite candidates to come forward, ask lots of questions and learn about the position if they're up for committing to this challenge. Our plan is to have selected someone before the last event of the year.

Adoptees have a special space in Korea, which was created through the dedication and hard work of many adoptees who came before us, and I believe it is the responsibility of those who are currently enjoying these benefits to step up and help ensure that this space continues to exist for future waves of returning adoptees.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about this position, please contact us at [email protected]. A job description is attached to this letter, and it is also available on our website.

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Adjusting to Korean Life - Moving Homes

Adjusting to Korean Life - Moving Homes


Since many people lease their home in Korea, moving many times within one’s lifetime is quite common. There are various levels of moving services to fit your needs. These can include full service pack, move, and unpack services as well as the basic moving of your belongings you have self-packed. You can also find companies that can clean your old residence when you move out and your new residence before you move in. Apartments may not be thoroughly cleaned after the old tenant moves out. Check with your new building owner if the apartment will be cleaned and also check with your old building owner to determine if you are responsible for cleaning it before moving out (or responsible for paying a cleaning fee).

Moving out of an old residence

Make sure to take care of anything that may need repair or service according to the terms of your lease before you move out. You will also need to settle any outstanding utility bills.

Donations (기부)

If you would like to donate items you no longer need when you move - below are a few places where you can donate goods within Korea. You may also find donation bins at large apartment complexes or officetels.

Moving Services & Costs

Costs will depend on a variety of factors:

  • Distance from old residence to new residence (Within the same city, intercity, etc)

  • Weight/Amount of belongings

    • Determines the truck size

    • Amount of people needed

  • Possibly the day on which you want to move

  • Extra equipment needed (i.e. ladder-lift truck)

  • If you are able to help with the lifting, loading, and unloading

Cleaning Service (청소 서비스)

Cleaning service depends on the size of your apartment and how much you want cleaned (i.e. only the bathroom, only the kitchen, or the whole apartment). Some offer cleaning services for your washing machine, air conditioner, and other appliances. If you have a small one-room apartment expect to pay anywhere from KRW 50,000~KRW 150,000. Larger residences can start from KRW 200,000+.

Standard Moving Service

You are responsible for packing up all of your belongings and also unpacking them at your new residence. The movers will take all of your packed belongings, load them onto a truck, and deliver them to your new residence. Perhaps the cheapest arrangement would be having all of your belongings packed and streetside when the movers arrive and not requiring the movers to take your belongings up to your actual unit but drop them streetside in front of your new building instead. Be sure to confirm with the moving company exactly what service they are providing. This can start as low as ~KRW 60,000 for a one-room but increases with distance and the weight of your belongings. For example, one quote from Sinchon to Sindaebang was KRW 60,000 but from Sinchon to Jamsil was around KRW 75,000. A lot of smaller moving jobs use these types of trucks:

(Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.)

Packing (포장)/Unpacking (정리) Service (서비스)

The movers will pack everything you have in your current residence and then unpack it at your new residence (this includes staging your belongings like arranging your plates in your kitchen and hanging up your clothes in your closets). This is in addition to moving everything from your current residence and delivering it to your new residence. The rate will depend on how much you have to pack/unpack. For example, if you needed a large 5 ton truck to move an entire apartment - moving a short distance maybe KRW 700,000, a longer distance could be as high as KRW 900,000 for the packing/unpacking service.

Ladder-lift Trucks (사다리 차/트럭)

If you are moving to a high rise apartment building it may have an elevator but in order not to monopolize the elevator and to minimize possible damage to the building and your belongings, ladder-lift trucks are often used. Besides, large apartment buildings do not always have freight elevators and the normal elevators are not usually very wide or tall. These trucks lift your belongings up the ladder track to the window outside your new apartment. Either your windows are removed to accommodate your furniture and belongings or they are simply opened. If you are in need of such a truck, be sure to tell the moving company in advance. The fee just to have a ladder-lift truck depends on how high you need the ladder to go as well as the weight of your belongings. For example a 5 ton amount going up to the 8th floor would be KRW 100,000. If you had to go to the 25th floor it would be around KRW 370,000.

Storage (보관)

There are storage options available in Korea however, due to the lack of space in major cities storage facilities may be located far away from city centers. If they are within city limits they may be expensive. Korea uses metric measurements for area so units will be in meters and metric tons. For example, storing one ton of goods for one month would be around KRW 120,000.

Moving into a new residence

Before the movers arrive, take pictures of your old residence and your belongings. This way you can prove the state of both before the movers arrive in case damage happens to either your old residence or your belongings. Also, take pictures of the state of your new residence the day you move. This way, you can prove something was broken or in need of repair before you moved in and you didn’t cause it. This is also helpful in the case the movers cause damage to your new residence.

Check your utility meters and take a picture of the current reading. You can check with the landlord and utility company to make sure the bill has been paid up until your move date. Therefore you won’t have to pay for a whole month of service if in the case you moved in at the end of the month.

Furnishing Your New Home

There are many ways to furnish your new home. Online shopping is very popular in Korea and many vendors also sell furniture. Department stores (Shinsegae, Hyundai) and large supermarkets (E-Mart, Lotte Mart, HomePlus) also carry a variety of goods. However, if you are shopping on a budget and need furniture and appliances, I recommend searching for used ones. Below are some options for furnishing your new home (English/한국어).

  • Online shopping (인터넷/온라인 쇼핑몰)

  • Used <Furniture> (중고 <가구>)

  • Department stores (백화점)

  • Supermarkets (슈퍼마켓)

  • Markets (시장)

  • Discount stores (할인점)

  • Antiques (골동품)


Before your moving day, it is best to get a quote and signed contract to reduce the likelihood of inflated prices the day of your move. If possible, have the movers visit your current home (and if possible, your new home) to give an accurate estimate of the services you require.

While tipping is not really part of Korean culture, if the movers have to go up and down a lot of stairs or work over a meal time, a small tip and some refreshments are appreciated.

Some days are considered ‘lucky’ by the lunar calendar and will therefore be busier for movers. Try to avoid these days or, if you follow this belief, book on these days.

Watch the weather forecast (일기예보) around when you want to move as to not run the risk of your belongings getting soaked by rain or blown away by wind. (Especially important if using a high rise ladder/elevator truck)


For further questions about moving in Korea, contact the G.O.A.’L Community Mentor!

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