[Feature] A bootcamper's guide to Korea: How to be efficient in the city that never sleeps

 

South Korea is a country that has been the forerunner of esports. Since the late 90s, Starcraft, has been a game that’s considered the unofficial national game of Korea, and the esports scene that followed the popularity of the game is one of the subcultures of Korea. 

 

Over the past decade, League of Legends has been the most popular online game around the world, and its popularity in Korea is no joke. PC bang (also known as LAN cafe) is a place where you pay a small hourly fee to play your favorite PC games, and according to a certain infographic conducted every week, League of Legends has been the most popular in PC bangs all over the country for many years. 

 

Weekly infographic of the games played at PC bangs (Source: DailyGame)

 

With such easy access to your favorite game, the Korean LoL esports scene is growing bigger than ever, and because so many youngsters are training to become the next esports superstar, the LoL server in Korea is considered to be the best among its counterparts around the world. Today, many people around the world travel to Korea for various reasons, and for League of Legends fans, one of those reasons is to play solo queue in Korea.

 

Whether you’re an amateur player trying to be picked up by a professional team, a streamer coming to Korea to play solo queue for content, or a casual player travelling to Korea to play solo queue and hoping to meet Faker IRL, I created a guide on how you can efficiently spend your time in Korea, specifically in Seoul.

 

Housing

 

No matter where you are in the world, you need a roof over your head, and wherever you may travel to, finding an efficient, yet affordable place to live can prove to be a challenge. In Korea, there are two main ways to have a roof over your head.

 

The first is living at a place called “Goshiwon”. What is a Goshiwon, you may ask? It’s a small but private room in a residence building that you can rent out for cheap, and it can cost anywhere between 300,000 to 500,000 KRW (roughly ~260 to 430 USD) per month. These rooms provide instant noodles, cooked rice, and kimchi for free in the common area, so for those that are travelling on a low budget, these Goshiwons are great to live in.

 

However, as aforementioned, these rooms are very small, and since rooms are very close to one another, it’s very susceptible to noise. According to the amateur/pro players that came to Korea for bootcamp, the majority of them spent their time playing in PC bangs because they would get complaints about how noisy they are while playing the game. Goshiwons are available all around Korea, I recommend Goshiwons to those travelling to Korea and plan to stay in Korea for over a month, and those on a small budget.

 

▲ Rooms in Goshiwons are small and susceptible to noise, but cheap (Source: @KGoshiwon)

 

Another option that’s available, is renting a place via short term contracts. The size of these rooms can range from being a little bit bigger than Goshiwon rooms, to being luxurious apartments. Most of these rooms are targeted at people that’s coming to Korea to live for 3-6 months, either on business or vacation, and while you can find these rooms all over Seoul, most of them can be found in Gangnam and Sillim area of Seoul.

 

However, foreigners would require assistance by a Korean in getting these rooms. Since the contracts of these rooms are written either directly with the owner or via the real estate that looks over them, to sign the contracts would require a Korean to provide assistance with the contract signing.

 

▲ A room that you can via short-term contracts. Definitely an upgrade from Goshiwons

 

PC bang

 

Standard set up of what a station at a PC bang looks like. Look at all the food you can order!

 

As an esports fan, a place that you must definitely visit is PC bang. As mentioned earlier, PC bangs are basically LAN cafes that you can visit. PC bangs are located all around Korea, and by paying around 1000 to 1500 KRW (roughly $1-$1.30) per hour, you can enjoy all the popular PC games that you’d like to play.

 

These PC bangs are open 24/7, so these places are perfect to heed to the lateness of gamers’ schedules. Although it depends on the PC bang you may visit, you can also order a variety of food, from instant noodles to even hot dogs and fries, so for gamers, PC bangs are nothing short of a paradise.

 

▲ You can order food like this right from your seat!

 

Transportation

 

One of the many great things about Korea is how convenient public transportation is. The public transportation system in Korea, more specifically in Seoul, is one of the best in the world. You can literally get around everywhere in Seoul via the subway. Although the subway map itself can be very confusing, there are foreigner-friendly apps that will help you get from point A to point B via public transit.

 

▲  Seoul Metropolitan Subway Map. Not that complicated, right? (Source: Seoul Metro)

 

Food

 

There’s a reason why Seoul is considered to be a city that never sleeps. For one, many places are open 24/7. Whether it’s a convenience store that you can find around every corner, soup places for those that need to cure their hangovers, to Korean bbq, a lot of these restaurants will be open almost 24/7. At convenience stores, you can easily grab a simple meal consisting of instant noodles and triangle Kimbap for around 2500 KRW (roughly $2 USD). There are food joints that are open 24/7 as well, and the meals cost as cheap as 5000 KRW (roughly $5 USD). 

 

You can grab a simple meal like this for under $3 USD (Source: steemit.com/@maybemay)

 

Korea also has an incredible food delivery system that delivers almost all times of the day and night. I highly doubt that there’s another country which delivers fried chicken at 3 in the morning. Speaking of fried chicken, it’s incredibly popular in Korea and is even gaining popularity overseas. I recommend that you go try out a menu called “Chi-mek”, which is a combination of fried chicken and beer (beer is pronounced ‘mekju’ in Korea, so the combination of ‘chicken’ and ‘mekju’ creates the word, ‘chimek’).

 

Korean style 'Chimek' (Source: CNN)



Attractions

 

There are a countless number of places that you can visit during your time in Korea. However, as a League of Legends fan, there’s one place that you must visit: LoL Park. 

 

Entrance to LoL Park

 

For League of Legends fans, LoL Park is a place that’s like a toy store to a child on Christmas Eve. Not only is it the home for all LCK matches, it’s also the home to the many amenities, such as a goods store, Bilgewater Cafe, and its very own PC bang. 

 

▲ Bilgewater Cafe. This place has really good pizza

 

For more of the tourist-like attraction, another place you can visit is the Gyeongbokgung. It's a palace located in the heart of Seoul (not too far off from LoL Park), and it's an important landmark of Korean history that you can go and check out. You can also rent traditional Korean clothing called 'Hanbok' near the palace, and if you do, the entrance fee into the palace is free!

 

A night time view of Gyeongbokgung (Source: ivisitkorea.com)

 

One thing you MUST experience during your time in Seoul is the nightlife. Itaewon, Hongdae, and Gangnam are the districts where most young people come out to hang out, drink, and go clubbing. Most bars, clubs, and even the streets of these districts will be full of people from all over the world all night, so feel free to make new friends!

 

▲ Street performers in Hongdae (Source: dailytravelpill.com)
▲ Streets of Itaewon during the night (Source: theseoulguide.com)

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