The Ministry of Labor in Korea has implemented a system in which all workers who do not miss a day of work in one week receive one paid holiday. Employees who do not miss a day of work in a full year are entitled to a 15-day paid vacation. Those who do miss days of work should expect a reduction in paid leave time. After the first year of work with a company, every two subsequent years translates into another paid holiday. Koreans use both the Solar and Lunar calendar which results in a number of holidays. There are 15 national holidays and most of them are observed by the majority of offices and businesses. These are:
January 1st and 2nd: New Year's Day
March 1: Independence Movement Day
April 5: Arbor Day
April 8: Buddha's Birthday (Seokka Tanshin-il)
May 5: Children's Day
June 6: Memorial Day
July 17: Constitution Day
August 14-16: Harvest Moon Festival (Chuesok)
August 15: Liberation Day
October 3: Foundation Day
December 25: Christmas Day
December 31-January 2nd: New Year's (Seol-nal)
The country uses one time zone and is 9 hours ahead of us. Most Koreans work Monday through Friday and then half a day on Saturday mornings. Usual business hours are 9:00-6:00 during the week and 9:00-1:00 on Saturday. During holidays, government offices and most businesses are closed, although many private store keepers and large department stores may remain open
As for foreign housing, rental payments are extremely high, one might even say, excessively high, for western-style amenities either in houses or apartments, especially given their quality and size. Foreign residents can expect to pay significantly more than a Korean would regardless of the type of housing. That said, an expat whose accommodations are not paid for by a corporation can find affordable and attractive, albeit usually small, accommodations in various areas of the city.
In Korea, the literacy rate is 97.9%. In the Korean culture, education is the key to success in life. The school one graduates from can determine whether one will be a success or failure. To many Korean parents, the education of their children outweighs all other considerations, and they will make tremendous sacrifices to let their children get the best education possible.
The Korean education system consists of six years of primary school, three years of middle school, then three years of high school. Those who pass the national exam go on to 4-year colleges or universities. Others go to 2-year junior colleges, while the rest enter the work force. Until recently, most middle and high schools were segregated by sex. However, because of complaints about differences in education levels between the boys and girls schools and socialization problems later in life, most schools have gone co-ed.
As all the tourist books will tell you, Korea has four distinct seasons. The summers are very hot and humid, and the winters are cold and dry. The springs and autumns, which finish much too quickly, provide a welcome relief from the extremes of summer and winter. Peak summer, from late June to late August, starts off with the monsoon season, when the country receives some 60% of its annual rainfall. It is followed by unpleasantly hot and humid weather. Although air-conditioning makes summers much more bearable these days, many locals flee the muggy cities for the mountains, beaches and islands, which become crowded, and accommodation prices double. There is also the chance of a typhoon or two. It also gets below freezing in December.
The South Korean authorities normally hold nationwide civil emergency exercises on the 15th day of the month, eight times a year (not January, February, July or December). Sirens are sounded, transport stopped and some people are asked to take shelter in metro stations or basements.
Although the crime rate in the Republic of Korea is low, there is a...