Saturday, March 10, 2012

Welcome to my Korean "One-Room" Apartment!

Well, here it is, finally some pictures of my apartment.  As you have probably guessed, a 원룸 or a "one-room" means that I have one main room for sleeping and living.  In addition, there is a tiny kitchenette and bathroom.  Excuse the clutter, I was still unpacking and organizing when I took the picture.  Voila:
Cozy apartment, but the walls are so bare!
You may notice that I have a nice desk against the right wall.  The only problem is that the accompanying chair is completely broken.  It's currently hiding in the closet.  Instead, I do most of my work at the floor table with my warm and comfy floor cushion. More about that later!

L to R: Kitchenette, wardrobe, bathroom, washing machine/storage
What are some of the differences I've noticed so far, you may ask?  Heating systems, for starters, are very different in Korea than in the States.  Instead of using a central air system to control the temperature, Korean apartments and homes are often heated through the floor.  This is called Ondol heating.  Long ago fires/coal were actually used to circulate heat beneath the floors.  Nowadays, hot water pumps though water coils instead.  It's so nice and toasty!  Plus, heat rises, so I think this a pretty clever system.  No wonder some Korean people still sleep on the floor with thick blankets instead of using a Western style bed.  While working on lesson plans I am sometimes tempted to just curl up and nap on the floor instead. (=

One of the first hurdles I had to tackle in my new apartment was controlling the water thermostat.  All hot water is controlled by this little guy (below).  Whenever I want to use hot water for any reason (washing dishes, or a shower) I have to make sure the water heater is on and ready to go.  Cold showers are not fun!  The system is very efficient in terms of conserving energy and keeps the heating bill down.  However, I still like how back home all I have to do is turn the water faucet to the left and warm water comes out. (=  It's the little things.

Korean Thermostat - Ondol Heating

Thank you Google!
Thank goodness I can write and type in Korean because I just plugged all the labels into Google Translate and this is what I got :

Red Button = On/Off
Green Button = Warm water only
White and Grey Buttons = Set temperature in Celsius or Fahrenheit
Blue Button = How often the heater runs (? )*

*I'm still not certain about the blue button. Youngeun - do you know what that means? lol

Anyways, it took me two days to completely figure out all the settings in my new apartment.  By then I was desperate for a hot shower.  But of course, I didn't have shampoo or conditioner yet. (planned on purchasing in Korea) For my first week, I washed my hair with body wash...weird, but it still got the job done.  hahaha. The body was left by the previous teacher.  The problem has since been rectified (=

It's dinner time - what to cook?


  1. Wow this is interesting. I'll be following your blog. I want to get a job in S. Korea once I get my M.A. English with TESOL Concentration but I have a ways to go. Was ESL teaching always what you wanted to do? With me... I finally decided on becoming an ECE teacher at 20 and then at 21 decided I wanted to be an ECE/ESL teacher! Can't wait to start my teaching career, for that matter can't wait to start school again! The apartment I noticed looks small. :( But the idea of heated floors makes sense.

  2. Sorry Christine. I have no idea what the blue button means. My apartment in Korea is kind a new building, so it doesnt have the controller for hot water. (I can use hot water whenever i want without any control)
    외출 means "go out" not the output, haha. So when go out push the button for saving bills!