Sunday, January 17, 2010

Living in Korea Apartments

Living in Korea Apartments

Korea is a country of uneven landscape and unsurpassed beauty. It is complete with mountains and surrounded by seas. The people are some of the most courteous, generous and warmest on earth.

The country's culture is very old, refined, and vibrant. Crime rate in the land is very low - cars on the road are safe, house doors seldom broken, and it is safe to keep goods out in the open.

Almost 40% of all property is leased by its tenants. A good majority of lessees prefer to pay their rent by 'cheonse' - a popular method of payment for housing deals. They pay a large lump sum amount to the landlord, and so free themselves from the burden of paying monthly rent.

There are many differences between American and Korean homes. They differ greatly in the way they are heated. Homes were traditionally heated by means of circulating hot air through pipelines under the floor.

Most buildings are heated today by circulating hot water through conduits under a raised floor. This heating system is named ondol, which is circulating hot water through pipes running underneath the floor. This works wonders in winter as the heat from under the floor moves up through room fixtures such as beds and sofas. If you feel too much cold in a windy night, it is a good idea to lie down on the naked floor for a several minutes. You can even dry your wet clothes this way.

Many buildings have a complicated system of dials that switch hot water between the floor and the shower. Bathrooms do not always have a separate shower stall or bathtub. Some buildings do not come with a bathroom sink. Water is supplied by a shower hose usually attached to the wall.

The traditional 'squat' style toilets are now found in the countryside and public restrooms only. Korean buildings generally have a normal, western style toilet. Koreans normally don't use curtains in their bathrooms. The bathrooms are tiled and the floor of the bathroom is set at a slight incline. You can drain as much water as you like all over the floor without worrying about water flooding on the floor.

Apartments normally do not to have an oven. All cooking is done on a gas range for cooking. You will find cooking difficult if you are not used to working in small kitchens as the kitchen is quite small - there is usually no room to do fancy cooking.

Residents of Korea from the early 1950s or 1960's would hardly recognize their country today. Traditional family homes were the fashion back then. The cityscape today is dominated by formidable housing complexes. The total share of apartment in the housing field enhanced from 4% to about 50% between 1970 and 2006. This rapid development has radically changed the country's dwelling culture.

Korean apartments are around 30% smaller than apartments in North America. As the government is keen on alleviating the chronic shortage of housing, you will see rows of identical-looking buildings soaring high across the country side.

There are a number of other idiosyncrasies about the houses that are different in many respects from the western style apartments. You will notice a small alcove, or an odd-looking shelf, by the door. Koreans generally take off their shoes when entering a room - the alcove is meant to keep your shoes for the time that you are in the building. You are never expected to wear your shoes into a household.

By Wantanee Khamkongkaew

Wantanee Khamkongkaew is an independent author evaluating and commenting on leading International Property Consultants in Asia and Greater China, especially CB Richard Ellis.

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