Something All Foreigners in Korea Should Know About: the Boodongsan

I have thought for a while that I should include these guys in my blog.  They are everywhere and very useful.  The first year I came to Korea, I kept seeing these signs, but I didn’t know what they were because I couldn’t speak Korean then, so I asked one of the teachers from my school about them.  He told me they were Real Estate Agents, but I have learned they are much more than Real Estate Agents.  20190313_153818-1.jpg

Yes, they do function as Real Estate Agents, but also as much more.  Maybe in other places, Real Estate Agents also carry places for rent, but that isn’t where I would look if I were in America. If I wanted to rent a place in America, I’d go for the “want ads” in the local newspaper. I would never think to go to a Real Estate Agent.  However, in Korea, if you want to rent a place, that is exactly where you should go, not to the newspaper, but to the Boodongsan man, and they are everywhere.  20190313_150001-1.jpg

If you are a millionaire, you can buy an apartment in Korea.  Korea’s prices for places to live are off the wall!  I have been lucky the whole time I have been in Korea because my apartment always came with my job.  If you teach English as a foreigner in Korea, the school should always provide you with a place to live as part of your salary.  If you want to rent an apartment yourself, for just a small one, you need to get ready to pay like you are paying for a really nice house with several bedrooms, a couple of bathrooms, and a nice yard in America, but end up with a small dumpy apartment where there is no room.  It is just life in Korea. The prices of real estate are just off the charts!

The red sign and the yellow sign are both Boodongsan offices. You can find several on one street. I counted the signs on that street from Boodong san office and I went down it, and there were seven offices in just a short space.

If you want to com to Korea for just a short time and are alone, rent a “gosheewon.”  They are one room places with a kitchen and a bath.  They are much more affordable.  An officetel is also nice, affordable, but small.  If you rent an officetel, it is like a really nice hotel room with a nice bathroom. The Officetel has a kitchen and a washing machine all in the bedroom.  There will be no closet.  You will have to get your own, and the cheapest way foreigners choose is to buy a stand that has a rod at the top to hang their clothes on and a plastic chest of drawers.  They have wardrobes here, but if you are here just temporarily, it doesn’t seem wise to buy a wardrobe unless you don’t care about the money, and there is no room for wardrobes in the officetel or gosheewon.  20190313_154546-1.jpg

Besides buying or renting a place in Korea, if you have a lot of money, there is another system.  In most countries, if you rent a place, you put an initial deposit down and maybe first and last month’s rent, according to the person renting it to you.  If they trust you, they don’t ask for first and last month’s rent.  There are places like that all over the world, even in Korea.  However, here in Korea, there is another system. If you have a lot of money, you can rent the apartment for the price of the apartment.  You give the owner the price of the apartment, but it is just a deposit.  The owner takes that amount of money and invests it.  At the end of your contract, you get all your money back.  Renting will actually cost you nothing in the end if you choose this route, but you have to have a lot of money to go this route.  When I first came to Korea, I heard of a lot of places where they used this system, but I have heard that lately, it is becoming less and less popular.

This one is up on the third floor.

Besides Boodongsans knowing where the places to buy or rent are, they are also the place you should go to keep yourself from getting lost.  I have been places for the first time using my GPS (Navigation) in my car, but once I got there, I just couldn’t figure out where the place was.  One of the problems is the big tall buildings with many floors.  If I am in the situation of being in the neighborhood, but just not knowing where the place is, I go to the Boodongsan.  They are everywhere, and they have maps of the area.  They know where everything is.  There is never a reason to feel lost in Korea.  Now a days, there are navigational devices on cars and phones, but there are also Boodonsans if you are in Korea.  They are extremely helpful because they know where everything is. If you go to another kind of business, they may or may not know, but the Boodongsan men and women specialize in knowing what is in their neighborhood.

These signs are everywhere!


As a foreigner, you may have trouble talking to these guys. However, there are English speaking Boodongsan men.  I have a friend who is an English speaking Boodonsan man in Seoul, and if you go into a Boodongsan here in Seoul where they don’t speak English, they will call someone who does speak English, and often it is my friend.  He stays very, very busy because Boodongsan businesses all over Seoul call him because he speaks English and can help the foreigners.  He was one of my many students at the university, and he is a Christian. If you come to Korea and need to talk to an English speaking Boodongsan man, just tell me, I will introduce you.  However, if you don’t find me, these offices are everywhere and very helpful, and they do much more than find houses to buy.


Leave a Reply