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! 🙂