After months of dry, sunny weather, rainy season has finally hit Korea. Here’s how to survive the unending barrage of rain.
Last year the rainy season was long. Very long. Two months of hot, humid rain, some of which was radioactive due to the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.
But even without nuclear disasters, it can be a frustrating time of year when outdoor activity is hindered by never-ending downpour. Here are a few quick (and potentially obvious ways) to survive the rainy season in Korea.
1. Gear up. Ladies, gentlemen: fashion be damned. This is the time of the year where you might as well forget about your appearance and get as comfortable as possible. That means donning a beach-sized umbrella and a pair of cheap sandals. Monsoons happen, and rain will come at you from all directions. Get some flip-flops, or those cheap knockoff Adidas sandals that are available in every Korean corner store that cost only a few dollars. Roll up your pants. Everyone will understand. Your shoes aren’t going to survive five minutes outside.
2. Get cultured. On a beautiful summer’s day it’s hard to go inside and take in some of Korea’s endless selection of museums and galleries. But rainy season can be a great time to do those indoor things you’ve been neglecting. Some of the best in Seoul include The War Memorial of Korea, The National Museum of Korea, and Leeum, the Samsung Museum of Art. Museums and galleries like this are all over the country, and you’re going to be awfully disappointed in yourself if you leave the country having not seen these sites.
3. Get stuffed. Traditionally, Koreans eat pajeon and drink makgeolli on rainy days. I don’t think this necessarily applies during the rainy season–that’s a lot of potato pancakes and rice wine–but you might as well enjoy some rainy-day comfort food. Seoul has a thriving restaurant scene and there’s no reason that a little rain should stop you from having a good meal. Check out publications like 10 Magazine for ideas.
4. Tour the city underground. It’s startling how much of Seoul is actually underground. Many major transfer stations have large underground shopping centers. I highly recommend checking out Gangnam or Express Bus Terminal for some underground subway shopping. And there’s always the COEX mall, Asia’s largest underground shopping center. Mostly anything that you can find on the surface in Seoul you can find somewhere underground. It just takes some exploration and research.
5. Hit the Jimjilbang. If you’re going to get wet, you might as well enjoy it. Although it might seem absurd to head to a place where there are saunas and hot tubs when the weather outside is a humid 30 degrees, consider cooling off in an ice room for 15 minutes: refreshing, and you’re going to suddenly like the idea of being in a hot, humid room. Jimjilbangs are great for feeling refreshed, and are no less enjoyable in the summer than in the winter.
Relax. Rainy season will be over before you know it, and you’ll soon realize that there’s hardly any precipitation in Seoul the entire rest of the year. Just think of it like we’re getting 90 percent of our rain all at once. And then it’s done.
Seoulites: Do you have any other important ideas for surviving the rainy season? If so, post them in the comments below!