4 Quality Things to Get on the Cheap in Korea – Seoulistic

4 Quality Things to Get on the Cheap in Korea

Shopping in Korea isn’t as cheap as it was 10 years ago. The cost of living in Korea has risen and so have consumer prices, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely impossible to find a good deal. Here are 4 things you can still get relatively inexpensively in Korea.

*Note: The terms cheap/expensive are relative. For the purposes of this post, cost is in comparison to prices in America.

Medical Tourism in Korea

Medical tourism is a booming industry in Korea. Medical services around the world are very costly and have forced many people to go abroad for medical care. Korea’s combination of low prices and high quality doctors have made it a top destination for medical tourism, especially for plastic surgery. Some websites offer 2-week medical vacation packages, with the cost of flights and hotel included. Major surgery isn’t the only inexpensive medical service in Korea, routine checkups and procedures are also cheaper here than in many places around the world.

Here are some price comparisons:

Procedure Approx. Cost in USA Approx. Cost in Korea
Chest X-Ray $370 USD (uninsured) Less than $20 USD (uninsured)
MRI $3700 USD (uninsured) Starting from $450 USD (uninsured)
CT Scan $1800 USD (uninsured) Starting from $125 (uninsured)

Tip 1: Set up appointments at big hospitals with English-speaking doctors. Smaller practices often have only Korean-speaking staff.
Tip 2: Dental services can also be quite inexpensive.

Custom-tailored Suits in Itaewon

A suit tailored to your exact measurements can make you feel like a million bucks. Luckily, in Korea it won’t cost that much. Custom-tailored suits in Korea start at around 200,000 won (less than $200 USD), depending on the tailor and material used. You can even put together a whole outfit with a custom-tailored shirt and vest. The quality of the suits are well worth the money.

Tip 1: The process can be anywhere from one to two weeks. If you’re just visiting Korea for a short time, tell your tailor you are short on time. Most will try to work with your schedule.
Tip 2: Although there are many places that do custom tailoring in Korea, Itaewon is well known for their suit makers and most speak English.

Prescription Glasses and Frames

Can you get an eye-exam, frames and prescription lenses for under 100 USD in your home country? In Korea, you’ll find eyeglass shops all over the country offering glasses at reasonable prices. For a large concentration of these shops for you to shop prices/frames, go to 남대문시장 (Namedaemun Market). Most will speak Japanese and some English and they can get everything done in less than an hour.

Tip 1: You get what you pay for. Cheaper frames are of lower quality, and brand names are more expensive.
Tip 2: If you have poor vision or astigmatism and require stronger prescriptions, it will take slightly longer to make the lenses.

Shoe Repairs

Broke a heel running for the bus? Shoe-repair is done all over Korea in these little street side huts. They offer polishing, heel-repair, sole replacement and most other shoe related services. Heel replacements in Seoul start at 3,000 won (less than $3 USD) in non-downtown areas. Downtown areas (e.g. Myungdong, Gangnam, etc.) will replace heels for 5,000 won (less than $5 USD). These shoe repair shops can be found on streets in busy areas all over the country. Omnipresent and cheap, get any service you need done for less than 10,000 won.


What have you found to be really inexpensive in Korea? Share with us in the comment section.

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.


  1. shanice says:

    Your comment…omgsh! If it is this cheap for that stuff i can only imagine how much it costs for the hot hot clothes ive seen on all those kdramas. Lol

  2. Keith says:

    Those clothes are probably brand name stuff from department stores. lol. Suuuuuuuper expensive i bet. But I’m sure you can find really cheap imitations at dongdaemun!

  3. Shanna says:

    wow that’s a nice list! I haven’t been to any D: must change that on my next trip!

  4. Keith Kim says:

    dang, this commenting this is messed up! gotta fix get someone to fix it soon 🙁
    come to hongdae and I’ll take you to famous lamb 🙂

  5. Fikael says:

    I want coffeeeeeee

  6. Nella says:

    this is great! will be a useful information when i go to korea kkk~
    beside the refill thing, those restaurants look nice^^
    and Super Girly Korean Cafe – “Miss Lee Cafe” (별다방 미스리) [Chain], that’s the restaurant where Goguma Couple WGM take place, right? 😀

    anyway, i repost this at my blog with fully credited to you.
    mind me, please 🙂
    thanks for this and keep up the good post^^

  7. Keith says:

    you’re welcome!! hope i can keep it up 🙂

  8. Melody says:

    Reading about coffee makes me want some now. xD So delicious!
    커피 맛있어요. ^^

  9. isabel says:

    hahah yah,just those shoe repairs 😀

  10. Çiğdem says:

    thank you for all information.. I’ll be in seoul at september.. before this time, waiting for more ^^

  11. Thomas says:

    Do you have any recommendations for tailors in Itaewon? I’m a college student about to graduate, and I need to buy a suit that fits correctly. I don’t have a super huge budget, but I wanna get a good suit that will last me a while, so I’m willing to hustle to make it work.

  12. Solavei says:

    Korea really has the cheapest in medical tourism compared to us. This is great!

  13. Your style is unique in comparison to other people I have read stuff from.

    I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this site.

  14. Nurul says:

    Hi… I will be going to Seoul this year…do you have any recommended shop where I can get Prescription Glasses and Frames?? other than Namdaemun Market, where else you suggest to get those things???


  15. Shahul says:

    Hello Keith and others,

    Do you know where I can shop for man clothes. both formal and casual. ?

  16. From NZ says:


    I see you mentioned about “branded goods are twice more expensive”, what about the local designers there? are they really expensive too? because from yesstyle.com, they are all branded products from korea and not so expensive.

    just a thought.

  17. Terry says:

    I’m going to seoul Korea March 20 2014 where can I get a custom made suit made

  18. Terry says:

    Where can I buy Tom Ford eye glasses I will be there on March 20 2014 for a cheap price

  19. amazing insight. Really enjoyed skimming through this blog.
    Keep up the good work and to everyone keep on tweeting!

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  20. Michelle says:

    Hi Keith,
    Would like to say that your site is way cool! I’ll be in Seoul within a week and would love to know the coolest places to eat (with ambience, aesthetically amazing food, taste and about US$50 per meal for an individual, preferably a restaurant that isn’t teemed with students and the like as I’m in my 30s and it’s kinda awkward to be revelling with those half my age! Heh.) Your post got me gunning for a new pair of spectacles! Here’s thanking you in advance! 🙂

  21. Seth says:

    I just moved to Seoul a month ago and I’m an avid fan of your site. I’ll be here for 18 months and definitely want to get some bespoke suits/shirts done. I live in Itaewon and you’re right there are heaps of tailors around. However, I worry about the quality and look of what the final product will be like. Some of the shops look like they’ve been around since the 50s. I’d like to find a tailor who will be in touch with the modern styles and not lost in a bygone era. Any specific recommendations? ~ Seth

  22. Good article! We aree linking tto this great post on our website.
    Keep up the great writing.

  23. Emma says:

    Thanks 😀 I think street food is quite cheap and tasty in Korea as well! Except for Myeongdong which is mostly on the expensive side.

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  25. Nick Q says:

    Does anyone know if Korean cars more expensive in Korea than in the USA. I’m not sure if I should buy a Hyundai in the States and bring it over or wait until I’m in Seoul and buy locally.

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