20 Things I’ve Learned from Driving in Seoul for 3 Months

Ever since I have started living in Seoul, I knew that I would not want to drive in this city unless I really had to. Public transportation is convenient and cheap, streets are narrow and confusing, parking is hard to find, pedestrians do not care about cars, and drivers are reckless and rude. But here I am… driving a car in Seoul… but thankfully mostly in Gyeonggi-do where there is less traffic and more wide streets.

irasutoya

Here are some things that I have experienced as a new driver in Korea!


Parking

  1. Due to lack of parking, many places require double parking.
  2. All drivers should have their phone numbers available on the car so the car can be moved out of the way of other cars.
  3. When your car is parked in a place that could get in the way of others, phones should always be kept nearby, and unknown phone numbers should be answered.
  4. Almost all parking spaces require reverse parking.
  5. Many parking lots automatically scan the license plates for the entrance and exit to calculate the parking fee 🙂 
  6. Bigger parking lots have female-driver parking spaces next to handicap parking spaces.
  7. Mirrors should always be folded when cars are parked.

Driving

  1. Most cars are expected to change lanes without blinking lights.
  2. Many cars drive with broken lights.
  3. When cars suddenly merge or drive recklessly, SOMETIMES they will blink the hazard lights a few times to mean “Thank you, sorry.” 
  4. The right lane is usually for buses and illegally parked cars.
  5. If you don’t turn right on a lane that is labeled as “right turn and straight,” you could get honked at from behind… even though you are not doing something wrong.
  6. When cars are parked in an illegal parking space, they’ll blink the hazard lights on to say “I know this is illegal, but I’m going to stop here anyways.”
  7. Most drivers usually drive 10-20 km/h over the speed limit when there are no speed surveillance cameras.
  8. Some drivers with “beginner driver” stickers don’t drive like beginners and some drivers with no “beginner driver” stickers drive like beginners.
  9. First lanes suddenly change into the left-turn only lane or the second lane after crossing an intersection.
  10. U-turns can be made when the left-turn lights turns on or when pedestrians are crossing.
  11. Highway exit names are all in Korean (no numbers) and sometimes they can be very long names, but colored lanes help guide cars to the exit.
  12. The hi-pass gates have a 30 km/h sign but most drivers do not slow down.
  13. Some new hi-pass gates are large and allow three lanes to go through the gate without slowing down to 30 km/h. 🙂

Hope this list helps you get an idea of how driving could be like in Korea. What is driving like in your city or country?

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