Friday, February 5, 2021

Surviving Korean Winter

They warned me about Korean winter, and it is no joke! Especially after spending my first Foreign Service tour in temperate Nairobi, I was bracing myself for winter in Seoul ever since I received my new assignment. Now that I've spent the past few months adjusting to a colder life than I've ever had before, I've learned a few tricks to surviving this brutal season:

  • A peacoat is not going to cut it. I highly recommend what Koreans call a "long padding" (롱패딩), a poofy coat that covers most of your legs. The best ones for winter will also come with a warm hood. If you detest bargaining, you can always do what I did and walk into the first coat shop you find and ask for the longest, warmest coat they possess. I'm so glad I did, too, because it hasn't let me down even as I walked around outside for hours in below-freezing temperatures.
  • Accessories are key. These days I never leave home without a coat, scarf, and earmuffs. I also keep gloves or a hand warmer on me. (Maybe I was behind the times, but I was delighted to discover electric hand warmers! I bought mine at Daiso, and it's so convenient. Before really cold days, I can charge it at night and it's ready to go in the morning.)
  • The snow is unpredictable. I actually expected more heavy snow, but it's been difficult to guess whether snow will stick or turn to black ice or vanish completely in a few hours. You have to be prepared for anything.
  • Warm shoes with full coverage and traction are your best friend. I definitely had a few fails where the weather was fine when I left the house but I had cold snow dampening the tops of my feet by the time I got back home.
  • Enjoy steaming Korean delicacies. I love Korean soups, and a piping hot bowl of galbitang (갈비탕) or samgyetang (삼계탕) or ddeok mandu guk (떡만두국) is the perfect comfort food in winter. My friend A also introduced me to the wonderful world of yuzu tea (유자차), a sweet and tangy herbal tea that always hits the spot.

I know some people love the cold and really look forward to winter, but I'm not sure I'll ever be one of them. At least now I know I can survive in a colder climate than ever before! And until spring comes, I'm not going to let a little cold hold me back from making the most of this precious time we have in Seoul.

No comments:

Post a Comment