How to Give Directions in Korea (Taxis)

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Street addresses in Korea are super confusing, even to cabbies who spend all day roaming the streets. That’s because street addresses are based on the order the buildings were built rather than their location. So ask any Korean on the street how to get to your destination, and you’ll get confused looks. Without the help of a smartphone, it’s impossible for anyone to help. So rather than using addresses, most people in Seoul use landmarks to describe their locations. The most commonly used landmarks are subway stations. Here’s an example:

→ It’s outside Exit 4 of Apgujeong Station

The next most common landmarks are recognizable chain restaurants, cafes and banks.

→ Exit 4 of Apgujeong Station
Make a left at the McDonalds
→ It’s on the 2nd floor of Hana Bank

For taxi drivers, they all have GPS in their cars, so giving them an address will work out most of the time. But instead of spending time on punching in addresses (taxi drivers do it super slow for some reason), the most common way to direct drivers is to mention major hospitals, hotels, universities, or subway stations. While no one knows addresses off the top of their head, say a major hotel and that lightbulb in their head will turn on instantly. They’ll get you to that landmark no problem, and from there, it’s  your job to tell them to go straight, left or right.

Here’s how to give directions in Korean:

→ 우회전 해주세요 (uhoejeon haejuseyo) – Please turn right
→ 좌회전 해주세요 (jwahoejeon haejuseyo) – Please turn left
→ 직진 해주세요 (jikjin haejuseyo) – Please go straight
→ 내릴게요 (naerilgeyo) – I’ll get off here.

If you would like to request the taxi driver to enter the address on their GPS, you can show them the address and say:

→ 찍어 주세요 (jjikeo juseyo) – Please enter it (in the GPS)

Addresses have their place, but without GPS or smartphones, we’d all be stranded in Korea. Instead, if you’re staying at a small hotel, make note of a big brand name one nearby so that you can tell the taxi driver next time.

Have you ever had any experience with a useless address in Korea? Share your experience! 🙂

Keith
Keith
Keith Kim is a Korean-American who has been living in Korea for almost a decade. Being in a unique position as both a Korean and a non-Korean, he's put all his experience and knowledge for surviving in Korea in Survival Korean . Read it to learn how you can survive in Korea. Follow him on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

5 Comments

  1. ricardo says:

    what about the post service? do they get confused? @,@>

  2. Iris says:

    i just returned from seoul not too long ago and each time i board the cab i will always have to spend some time getting the driver to type into the gps….why didnt i think about directing them to the nearby landmarks oh gosh hahahaha. but i do notice this trend in certain taxi drivers not liking to turn rounds to get to the place…i met 2 of such drivers..but at the same time i’ve also met a few drivers who possibly took wrong turns to extend the trip!

  3. May says:

    Went to Korea in October 2013 and it was just past midnight when my friend and I got off a train coming from a smaller town down south and had just missed the last subway. We decided to take a taxi back to the apartment we were staying at, so we waited outside Seoul Station to try and hail one.

    A taxi driver approached us, and he was friendly, so we went w/ him. We don’t know enough Korean, so we just asked him to take us to the subway station near our apt. We noticed right away that he didn’t turn on the taxi meter; he explained to us (while trying to guess if we were Chinese/Japanese/etc) that it’d cost a flat $15 KRW for the trip. We didn’t know how to ask him to turn on the meter, or why it was so expensive, so we went along with it, knowing very well we were gonna get ripped off.

    The driver sped through Gwanghwamun Plaza at 85mph and ended up dropping us off at Gwanghwamun Stn Exit 8 (after we told him it was okay to drop us there since it was walking distance to the apt). We ended up forking out $15 KRW and left in a hurry. He was craaaazzzyyy for speeding through the city like he did, AND trying to navigate the GPS at the same time. Needless to say, we were a bit traumatized after that, but we took a cab back to Seoul Station on our last day in Korea to catch the AREX to the airport; the cost then, with meter on, was only $4 KRW (it was raining and we almost got into a car accident, too, by the way – thank God for good brakes).

    Wish we had this article earlier (before our trip to Seoul). LOL

    Lessons learned: Take a taxi w/ meter on. Pray you don’t die.

  4. Daniel says:

    Most of the major intersections/junctions in Seoul have their own unique name.

    You can see the particular name on the road signs before 사거리 (sa go ri – which means ‘junction’)

    The taxi drivers are familiar with the junction names, so this is one of the easiest ways to get around by taxi…

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