5 Ways To Survive The Cold Korean Winters! – Seoulistic

5 Ways To Survive The Cold Korean Winters!



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Winters in Korea can get super cold. If you can survive the deathly summers of Korea, that was just the beginning. Mother nature has a new trick up her sleeve and she will do whatever it takes to make you struggle through the harsh cold winters of Korea. Temperatures during the winter can dip down to an average jaw dropping negative five degrees Celsius. Brrrrrr, that’s cold! Koreans have been figuring out new ways to stay warm over the many centuries and interestingly enough, some of the heating methods used over 1,000 years ago are still being used today in some of the regions around Korea!

If you are visiting or planning to stay in Korea, using heating utilities can get extremely costly – especially if you are a homeowner in Korea. Those old days are long gone now as new technology has helped us in making cheaper alternatives to heating. Here are some ways that you can stay warm during your stay in Korea, inside and outside of your home 🙂


1) Space Heaters

In Korea, most apartments and studios are heated by a method called, “ondol heating,” or floor heating. Unlike in many other countries where heat is blown out of a vent, floors in Korea are heated from underneath through a series of pipes. These pipes are then heated and evenly spread throughout the house. The process behind ondol heating uses a combination of gas and electricity. For this reason, ondol heating can be extremely expensive. Depending on how much heat you use, you can expect your heating bill to come out around 400,000W (400USD) per month just by using this type of heating method!

Solution? Invest in a portable space heater and stop blowing your money on heating bills. No really, these bad boys are seriously a life saver. They cost around 30,000W – 75,000W (35USD – 75USD) for a single unit and depending on the size of the heater, it can do justice in warming a sizable room. This is the perfect solution for nighttime when you are sleeping or if there is one particular room in the house that you stay in most of the time.


2) Hand Warmers aka Hot Packs (핫팩)

♪ Shake Shake Shake, Shake your bootay!

Do a little dance and shake these little babies up. That’s it! 😀 The ‘stuff’ inside does some kind of reaction and the little beanie bags warm up. Science has never been so cool. These hot packs can last you for HOURS. Once these hot packs die out on heat, you can usually revive them for another couple of hours if you ever decide on using them again. These hot packs are a very popular choice for people who literally want a portable heater on the go. In recent years, the government has issued a statement that all private and public office buildings must not exceed temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius (68 F) in efforts to save energy and prevent any massive blackouts 🙁 Due to this problem, the demand for hot packs went outrageous; furthermore, it caused the industry to start selling these like hot cakes! These have become a top choice for homeless people and even Korean celebrities!

*Tip*: Although these hot packs are mainly used for your hands, people in Korea also ingeniously use them to warm other parts of their body. Park Jin-Young (JYP), a very famous Korean singer/star, has said that the only way he survived some of the winter months was to buy a ton of these hot packs and tape them all over his body. Now that’s boss! You can place them in your shoes, use them to warm your ears, or even stuff them in between your smelly armpits for all we care! 😛


3) Crazy Cute Animal Pajamas

Are you cool? No pun intended, but only the cool people in Korea these days are wearing cute animal pajamas and fuzzy wuzzy socks to stay warm. Korea wants you to stay in style even while you’re ASLEEP! If you use your heating in moderation at home, you’re most likely going to be wearing extra clothing to keep yourself warm. A great way to stay warm in style and be comfortable at the same time is to go out and buy yourself some cute animal pajamas. Even if you are slightly unfamiliar with the K-pop media, you’ll know that a lot of people in Korea wear animal pajamas. But if you aren’t! These cute pajamas are readily available almost everywhere in Korea from your local neighborhood shops to the bigger department stores and online shopping malls like Gmarket (the Amazon.com of Korea on steroids). They cost anywhere from 5,000W – 10,000W (5USD – 10USD). You might think they are cheap and not made with good material. You thought wrong! Since the demand for these cute pajamas are so high in Korea and have become part of the Korean culture, they are actually cheap and made with good material. They are made with a blend of cotton and polyester for extra warmth and comfort. Also, they come in several variations starting from the most common pajamas for your legs, to pajama jackets, and of course full out animal style pajamas! Wearing a pair of Korean pajamas is a great way to wake up in the morning all nice and toasty without ever having to jump-start your body again.


5) Red Thermal Underwear

(aka “Red Long Johns”)

Thermal underwear is probably the best invention of all time. When you see that mercury on your thermometer bar go below the negative mark, you know you’re in mega deep trouble. The cheap solution would be to invest in several pairs of thermal underwear. A lot of the times discount stores like Home Plus have a 1+1 deal going on all the time (buy one, get one free sort of deal). Sweet stuff! But you should know that thermal underwear in Korea is not just any ordinary thermal underwear. Most of the time, they come in usually only one available color, RED. Back when nothing existed in the world, the only immediate available colors for dying was the color red. Red was the color that symbolized luck and was used in clothing to help and protect you from any evil spirits. And because of this, thermal underwear is made in this color! A large number of people commute by public transportation whether it is to work, school, or wherever – so walking in the cold weather for long periods of time can make your legs turn into icicles. Wearing thermal underwear helps raise the core body temperature by a lot and also helps circulate blood flow. You might be mighty thankful to yourself about how you spent your money on red thermal underwear rather than paying medical bills for that BLACK frost bite you got on your ankle because you made a foolish mistake on never buying a pair of thermal underwear.


Now you have a guide on how to survive the Korean winters like a pro! Give us some thoughts!


  1. 박팀 says:

    thanks as always Seoulistic…where’s #4!

    keeping warm is all about layers. layer up!

  2. siti says:

    awesome sharing.. I have bought winter coats and a long john to face the harsh Korean winter for my trip this coming January. Wish to try korean food and make lots of new friends..Can’t wait 🙂

  3. pat says:

    Its all relative. I live in Minnesota,USA, and I am visiting Korea in January. Korea is much warmer than Minnesota that time of year, so I can’t wait for a break from the cold 🙂

  4. SeoulMate says:

    Socks for sleep(수면양말) are also super essential to survive the cold Korean winter !!! : )

  5. Alexandra says:

    super cold Korean winter? ㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋㅋ
    i`m from Saint-Petersburg, Russia. And this post was so funny for me. Also, i made a translation of this text and post it in my blog^^
    Normal temperature in my city is -25C in january and sometimes it is colder.
    It can be -40C… horrible.
    so…. i live in Spb, not in Sybeeria and in another regions winter can be even worse.

  6. Brittney Petty says:

    Does it snow a bunch in South Korea? Or is it mainly just freezing cold? It gets down to around 10 degrees Fahrenheit where I live in Oklahoma City OK sometimes, and it tends to snow several times a year. Since I’ll be commuting via public transportation in Korea once I get there, I was kind of curious on how much it snowed. I can handle freezing cold better than freezing cold and tons of snow lol

  7. Rebecca says:

    ㅋㅋㅋㅋ -5 being cold. Thanks for the laugh, I enjoyed that one. And you missed the common sense ones of keeping the windows and doors closed, because god knows my office mates forget that one all the time. Blows my mind how people can complain about the cold but do nothing logical about it.

  8. RRD says:

    Well, -5 Celsius is definitely cold enough when Korean heaters don’t work properly and you’re waiting for translations to the technician to fix it! Been having issues in the past two apartments for hot water and never gets resolved….

  9. freezeeee says:

    hi thank you very much for the post,very useful! 😀

    going to korea in early feb, worry i might be freeze to death >..<
    or down feather jacket is a must?

  10. freezeeee says:

    hi thank you very much for the post,very useful! 😀 going to korea in early feb, worry i might be freeze to death >.< may i know where can i buy the hand pack/son nalo in korea? can i find it in watsons/7-11 convenient store? the Crazy Cute Animal Pajamas are so cute!! could u tell me what is it in english please? would like to buy it when i visit dongdaemun and other shopping places 😀 is down feather jacket a must for korea winter? is it warm enough if i wear long john+tshirt+100%cotton jackets?

  11. Anson lim says:

    I bought he hot pack and does not know how to use since it is in Korean , I just google around and found you site. Thanks for info on hit pack, I just realized to shake it from your site . The animal pajamas piece reference is great too.

  12. Bee says:

    to freezee – it has already gotten a LOT warmer here in Seoul, so by February you should be missing the worst of it (it was -17 C for a while and now it’s 2C or warmer! heat wave!!). you can buy the handwarmer hot packs almost everywhere – the 711, watson’s, daiso, homeplus, emart, familymart…you will see a ton, I promise 🙂

  13. freezeeee says:

    to bee: Hi bee, thanks a lot for ur info!! really hope the weather can get better 🙂 hope seoul wont be too cold but wanna see snow as well,haha… the chances of snow in seoul are quite low according to recent weather forecast :(( hope for the best,hehe..

  14. synthia says:

    Hi, can you teach me what should I said in Korean if I want to ask: where to buy thermal underwear? or do you have thermal underwear?
    thank you

  15. MarcQc says:

    I’m from Canada, so for me, korea is not so cold. LoL

  16. Frankie says:

    Great tips – we are coming in December from Queensland, Australia with temperatures at that time around 35 Celsius. Our winter days are 15-20 Celsius. I hope we can cope with the cold.

  17. Aich says:

    Useful article. Thank you for that.
    I have a question: I’m staying in seoul for November (4 weeks). Is the weather really cold, or is it just autumn chilly?
    I’m from a country when you can experience a heat wave even in winter, So i’m a bit scared of the cold, and I really don’t want it to ruin my korea experience TT

  18. C says:

    I just came back from Seoul and wow was it cold! Deliciously so, especially given that I live in a tropical weather country and wanted nothing more than to have enjoy a cold Christmas. The trick is to layer up; there’s no point just wearing a large, bulky coat over a t-shirt; that won’t warm you up proper. It’s all about the layers in my opinion. And those portable heat packets are AMAZING. You can get a packet of 20 for 1000 won at Daiso and what I did was just shove a packet in each jacket pocket. Warmed me right up. And those things last for hours; it’s astonishing.

  19. Frida says:

    Where can I Find this hotpack that you are Talking about?
    I only Find hotpack that you trow away after one time

  20. Kelsey says:

    Thanks! This article is very helpful. For someone who lives in a tropical country, I am literally clueless on how to survive Korean winter. Thanks Keith! 🙂

  21. Jena says:

    Yes, SHINee is exactly what I want to use to keep warm.

  22. Elynn says:

    I’m in Seoul and I’m trying to buy some good quality pyjamas for my son. Not those very thick types. Where can I find? Went to nandaemun but the quality is poor and expensive.

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