Q: What are Korean winters like?
Even though it is currently Fall in Korea, the cold, bitter months are fast approaching. With my body acclimated to a warmer, Southern American climate, the cold weather that Korean winter brings isn’t ideal for little ol’ me.
I was told that last winter was warmer than usual (personally, I still thought it was a bit cold), but this year, I’ve been hearing talk that it’s gonna be a COLD winter. Am I excited? … For buncha snow? Kinda. To have my life continue like white miracles aren’t falling from the sky? ….not really. I wish life stopped for a second when the snow comes as it does in Southern America.
Korean summers may be hot and humid, but Korean winters are COLD and DRY. I’m talking, parched throat, and cracked skin kind of dry. Honestly, when I was first warned about Korean winters, I took it seriously, but… maybe not as seriously as I should’ve. I have no idea how I survived last winter, but this winter that’s coming feels like it’s gonna be NO JOKE. So, I thought I’d be fun to list a couple of things to prepare for this winter.
Last year, it didn’t really snow all winter, but with the effort, I’m putting in this year, there better be a snow pay-off. Here are some things that have proven helpful so far.
#1- Buy a humidifier.
While you may want to invest in a dehumidifier in the summer, you DEFINITELY want to invest in a humidifier in the winter. I mentioned above, Korean winters are cold and DRY. I’m not pulling your legs. Last year, because I didn’t think I needed one, I went the whole winter without it and was miserable. This year, I jumped on the bandwagon early, and I’m telling you, I already feel better, and the full blast of winter hasn’t even started yet. My humidifier is tiny and portable, so I can carry it into any room I may be in. Still, it mostly just stays in my bedroom. I usually just run it all night long. My skin and throat have never been happier.
#2- Use the floor heater.
The Korean heating system, unlike the one in America, runs through the floor. There is one in every apartment. Mine is located in my bedroom. So the way it works is that you can turn it on and set it to the season and the temperature you want. I think each model is a little different, so be mindful of that. When I automatically turn mine on, it’s set to heat up the house already. The water in the pipes that run underneath the floor heats up, and that is what warms your home. The warmth permeates from the bottom, and soon the whole apartment is feeling the warmth. Thus, the heating can take a while to warm up, but then after it does, it can get hot over time. I don’t know if it’s possible to set it to a certain degree where it cuts off when the room reaches that degree…. honestly, I’ve never tried or bothered to ask before. Maybe I should..? This is actually not expensive electric wise, but you may have a high rise in your water bill. There’s always a price to pay 💁🏾♀️. This device also controls your warm water. If you just want warm water and not the whole house heated (especially the warmer seasons), be sure to only turn on the warm water.
#3- Invest in an electric heater.
The electric heater is ideal for the months where it’s not extremely cold, but you just need something to warm you a little bit, and you don’t want to stay in bed all day. However, if it’s freezing, I suggest that you turn on the floor heater. It’s NICE. However, maybe lay some blankets on the ground while you have it on so that when you turn it off, you can still be warm. I wouldn’t suggest running it ALL the time unless you wish to have a large water bill. The electric heater is definitely ideal for quick, short bursts of direct heat.
#4- Get an electric bed mat.
In Korean, this is called 전기매트, and it is the BEST thing in the world. It’s like a mat you put on your bed. You can find it on Coupang (a Korean online store similar to Amazon) and get it the very next day. I use this before I even CONSIDER turning on my heaters. It’s perfect for when the days are a bit warmer, but the nights are chilly. I usually have it on ALL night long. And since it only heats your bed and not your house, it is VERY cost-effective. I would highly recommend this if you don’t get anything else on this list. Now, I don’t think I need to mention it, but just for specificity reasons, if you are not in bed, don’t leave the bed heater running. Be sure to unplug it when it’s not in use. Also, since it can get super warm, it’d be wise to put the heater between layers of sheets and not sleep on top of it.
#5- Buy a padding coat.
Unfortunately, life goes on even when it’s freezing outside, so I would STRONGLY recommend buying a padding coat for your safety and happiness. Even though it’s a little expensive, it’s durable and totally worth the investment. These coats trap you inside a world of warmth though I must warn you; you will look and feel like a walking snowman/penguin. There are different kinds of padding that you can buy, but when I ask my friend, Woojin, for a recommendation of which padding I should buy, this is what he told me:
Goose: you can survive
Duck: you may survive
Cotton: you may die
“If you get the cotton padding, you’re gonna die.”
Woojin’s words, not mine. 😂😂
Most of the paddings have one of these three things inside of it. The goose feathers are the most expensive padding, but it is also the best out of the three. However, if it’s okay with your budget, you’ll do alright with the duck padding. It’s not as good as goose padding, but you’ll survive the winter.The cheapest, but according to Woojin, not the warmest, is the cotton padding. Do what you will with that information.
Everything else you probably can think to bring on your own- things like boots, leggings, gloves and warm clothes. I just wanted to list a few essential items I never thought of owning before moving here.
Well, that’s all I have for now, later; if I think of more, I’ll make another post.
Until next time,
See ya around, friend~~