In a sudden and prolonged economic upswing known as the Miracle on the Han River, South Korea skyrocketed from one of the most struggling countries on the planet into a fully-blossomed financial center in the east within one generation. Currently, one can say the country is slowly taking over the world one aspect of our life at a time, from cellphones to computers to automobiles to even modern pop culture.
But is South Korea a worthy place to migrate, work, and settle? We find out.
South Korea is a major economic force in Asia, being the fourth largest economy in the region and the eleventh in the world. It is considered as one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Its main economic sectors and largest employers are shipbuilding, automobile, construction, armaments, mining, and tourism. It has also been hit by the late 2000 global financial crisis. Nevertheless, it avoided going into a recession like most countries.
Working here can be socially rewarding, as building personal relationship in the workplace and out is highly encouraged here. Koreans believe that building trust, rapport, and commitment is a crucial step in being productive and therefore drives the company’s growth. Still, lines are still being drawn among ranks and therefore should be not violated.
However, South Korea is known for its extraordinarily long working hours and long overtimes, having 2,124 hours annually (or 41 hours a week), the second longest among the OECD countries. Fortunately, new laws are being enacted to limit the working time to 40 hours a week only and adopt a five-day workweek.
Australia’s federal structure allows it to focus on disparate economic sectors to support the country. Its economy is primarily driven by its service sector, comprising 68% of its GDP. Other sectors (and biggest employers) include mining, manufacturing, agriculture, finance, tourism, media, education, and logistics.
The country is also fortunate enough to suffer minimal to no economic damages during the recession. Experts pointed out to efficient policy making, effective fiscal expenditures, the mining boom, and Australia being a major source of resources for the Asia-Pacific region.
Like in South Korea, socializing on the work is OK, while doing it after-office is encouraged. Also, mutual respect is being emphasized, as it adheres to the spirit of mateship Aussies are known for. That means equal respect should be given from the employees to the company managers. At 1,664 working hours annually (or 32 hours a week), working time her is quite shorter.
The National Health Insurance (NHI) administers the compulsory healthcare in the country. Regardless of nationality or profession, each resident in the country is eligible. Even foreigners residing here and are registered with the National Health Insurance Corporation are eligible to receive the same medical benefits and services as Korean nationals.
Public assistance and social welfare services are provided through four insurance schemes: national pension, national health insurance, industrial accident compensation insurance, and unemployment insurance. The residents are mandated to contribute on all four schemes.
Australia’s healthcare system engages on a centralized level, and is provided by both private and government institutions. The state and territory governments manage aspects of health care within their jurisdictions, such as the operation of hospitals.
It is two-pronged. There is the private health system, and there is the Medicare for the public system. The latter is funded partly by a 2% Medicare levy (with exceptions for low-income earners), with the rest being supplied by government. An additional levy of 1% is imposed on high-income earners without private health insurance.
To find out more about how Australia’s healthcare system works, check our blog here.
Much like Japan, Korea’s cuisine also developed with very little external influence, with contributions limited only the Korean peninsula and southern Manchuria. Their dish is mostly based on rice, meats, vegetables, with the addition of side dishes and the ubiquitous kimchi. Korean cuisine is rich and diverse, as characterized by the many restaurants thriving in the country.
Dining etiquette is complex and interesting. You can’t pour your own drink, it’s your neighbor’s responsibility, and vice versa. You cannot also lift the bowl to your mouth when eating rice (as they would in Japan). And you need to wait for the elders to start eating before you do. When dining at home, shoes are expected to be removed. When dining out, the person who does the inviting typically pays the bill, however, the guest is expected to make an effort to pay. Tipping is not mandatory, though you may give 5% or more of your bill.
As opposed to Korea, Australian cuisine is a fusion of native aboriginal inventiveness and British colonial contribution, with mix of Asian and Mediterranean traditions provided by wave after wave of post-colonial migrations and helped transform their cuisine. They usually take advantage of meat available in the continent, such as lamb, kangaroo, and emu, as well as pork, beef, and chickens. To find out more about Australia’s exciting cuisine, check our blog here.
There’s no strict rules on who’s going to pay the bill when dining out. However, since Australians gravitate more towards egalitarianism, the bill is usually divided equally among people. Tipping is also not heavily required here, but they are encouraged.
Geographically, South Korea is not a huge country, but its population is bursting, resulting in country that has ingeniously used its limited space. Because of this, Koreans came up with various apartment types that caters to all sorts of tenants and families.
First are the apartment buildings whose units offer huge space for a family of four or five to live, complete with a kitchen, dining area, living room, bed room, and toilet. Also, these types of living space is the most expensive. Officetels have a more limited room and fit mostly for couples. And then there are the villas, perfect for single employees.
Payment system for rent is classified into two options. First is the wolse in which you pay the monthly rest, and second is the jeonse in which you will deposit a huge sum of money (AU$35,000 is a modest figure) and then you can stay in the apartment for free on the duration of the contract. The landlord will then hand you the money back when you move out.
Like in Italy, rental prices vary depending on the region, city, neighborhood, quality of a property, size (number of bedrooms), age, and the facilities provided.
Logically, rents are more affordable in rural than urban areas. It’s also lower the further a property is from a large city or town, public transport or other facilities, the cheaper it is. The average rents are highest in Sydney, Melbourne and Darwin.
Letting agencies and estate agents will usually charge you a fee of two weeks’ rent for a one-year lease and one week’s rent for a six-month lease. These are the legal maximum fees. Also, you’re expected to settle one month’s rent in advance, depending on the type of property and the rental agreement, plus a bond (see below) which is held against damages.
To find out more how to get an apartment here, check our blog.
Public and Private Transport
South Korea has a web of subway system (called metro) servicing six cities, namely Seoul, Busan, Daejeon, Daegu, Gwangju, and Incheon. The signs here are written in English and Korean, making it accessible and user-friendly for foreigners and locals alike. Other railroad transport systems include commuter trains, trams, and the maglev (magnetically levitated). South Korea is the third country in the world to operate a commercial maglev train.
A one way train ticket here costs AU$1.44, while a monthly pass is at around AU$63.57. Starting taxi tariff is AU$3.47 with AU$1.33 for the first one kilometer. A Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car) will set you back AU$36,236.85. Gasoline is at AU$1.76 for every litter.
All of Australian cities have reliable, affordable public bus networks and train lines, plus taxis operate nationwide. These train lines include commuter rail networks, trams, light rails, and rapid transits. Despite this, driving is the most used mode of transport, and this number continues to rise. It is followed by train, walking (the country has a very good culture of walking), bus, and lastly, train.
Fares are pricier here compared pricier compared to Korea. A one-way ticket sets you back by AU$4.00, while going for a monthly pass will increase it by 130.00 AU$. Staring taxi tariff is at AU$4.00, while the first kilometer is at AU$2.17. If you want your own car, A Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (or any equivalent new car) will cost you AU$25,000.00 plus AU$1.30 for every litter of gasoline.
Weather and Climate
With a temperate climate, South Korea goes through four distinct seasons. Winters are mostly lengthy, intense and dry. Summers are quite short, hot, and balmy. Spring and autumn, on the other hand, are pleasant but also brief in duration. The country typically has sufficient rainfall. Amounts of precipitation, however, differs from year to year. Two-thirds of the annual precipitation occur between June and September.
Compared to neighboring countries, South Korea is less vulnerable to typhoons. Only one to three typhoons can be expected each year. Typhoons usually pass over during late summer and bring torrential rains especially in August.
The Land Down Under experiences an assortment of climates also due to its size. It can range from severely hot in the Kimberley region in the north-west of the continent to below zero in the Snowy Mountains in the south. And due to its size, there just can’t be one seasonal calendar for the whole continent.
The seasons will vary depending upon where in the continent you are each month, whether the weather is defined by the Temperate zone seasons or the tropical seasons. To find out more what is the climate and weather patterns in each of the states in the country, check our blog here.
Benefits of Citizenship
- Advantages of Korean Dual Citizenship include:
- Easier access to cheaper medical insurance
- The right to vote
- Eligibility to run for public office
- Easier access to cellphone subscription service, credit cards and loans
- Children will be dual citizens
- Eligibility to adopt
Advantages of Australian Citizenship include:
- Being able to work for the federal government
- Children will be Australian citizens
- The right to vote
- Being able to run for public office
- Avoid deportation
- Entitlement for Australian passport
- Access to consular help
- Eligibility for the deferral of education fees
- Full residence rights in New Zealand
- Being able to adopt
- Being able to represent Australia in international sporting events
For a more detailed information about these benefits, check our blog here.
A robust economy is both South Korea and Australia’s greatest advantage. Both have economic sectors effectively supporting its respective countries economically and fiscally. Both survive a global economic catastrophe that put on much of the world to their knees. Also, both countries thrive on the tradition of strong relationships with other people, in and out of work. If you are looking for a place where social connections and civil rapport is a norm, both South Korea and Australia are both good countries to work and settle.
If you are from a western country and looking for a completely different atmosphere very unlike your homeland, Korea is the perfect destination. Unlike Hong Kong or Singapore where western influences has slowly taken over, Korea is as Asian as it gets. The country has entirely preserve its tradition, culture, and cuisine in the backdrop of modernization. Staying here for good will be a lifetime of learning and new experiences. Though you may have to survive the language barrier (leaning Korean is fun, though), and get used to quite compact environments, as space is not a luxury the country has so many of.
If still favor a western façade and the way of life, get to Australia. The country offers both American and European vibe, depending in which city you are. And while South Korea lacks space, the Lucky Country has a lot of it. Roads, parks, offices, and even accommodations can be expansive, and the culture of walking and outdoor lifestyle is a way of life. Though the erratic and mostly warm weather is a deal breaker if you are from a cold country, and sometimes the food needs an acquired taste to be enjoyed, mostly like in South Korea.