Thursday, July 23, 2009

Help From Fellow Expats

There are some questions that I simply don't know how to answer. I try my best, but some are either so bizarre or out-of-reach, that I simply don't know where to turn. I have several questions that I have been sitting on for awhile and have decided to ask my readers to give them a shot.

I'll post a few here. If you know the answer then please leave it in comments. Thank you guys.

Anyone know the library system?
My husband and are avid readers but do not want to spend money on new or used books. We have had some trouble finding a library where we can actually check the books out. Apparently you have to stay on the library grounds to read books at the National Library of Korea. Do you know of a library (preferably near Gangnam) that has a wide selection, or any for that matter, of English books that we could actually check out?

Soon I will travel to Korea, and i was wondering if i can use my cell phones there in Seoul. I got one Samsung uses gsm and one nokia E63works on 3g.

Coffee drinkers...with a twist?
I roast my own coffee beans in a hot air popcorn popper and I was
wondering if I should bring green beans out with me to roast there.

If you have ideas, just float them in the comment section. If not, then I'll keep digging. Thanks...


Chris in South Korea said...

I'm not the expert expat, but I'll give it a go...

Regarding libraries: there is a childrens and young adults library near Gangnam, exit 7 or 8. I doubt they have English books, but they're worth a look. I also know that IGSE (International Graduate School of English) has a pretty decent library near Olympic Park. is the website for info.

Cell phones - if it's coming from another country, it's not going to work. South Korea uses an entirely different frequency from the rest of the world (this shouldn't surprise anyone, really), so essentially, only phones bought here work. They're cheap and easy to buy, but you might need some Korean help.

Roasting coffee beans in a hot air popcorn popper? Wow - um... Sure, bring the beans with you, but the hot ait popcorn poppers will be a bit more difficult to come by. You might check the Seoul Folk Flea Market (Sinseol-dong, line 1) and you might get lucky. Otherwise, pack your foreign one and get a transformer (I have a couple for sale)

holterbarbour said...

They may be rare, but there are a few "artisanal" coffee shops around Seoul that roast their own beans, and while I have not heard of them offering green beans for sale, I'm sure you would be able to work something out.

Alex said...

Regarding cell phones: Contrary to what Chris says above, my wife took her Japanese cell phone to Korea with her the last time she went home for a visit, and it worked for both incoming and outgoing calls. Of course, when we got the bill, we were charged for international fees.

I think specific services that offer international deals will work in Korea, but you should check with your provider.

The Expat said...

Thanks for the help guys.

Justin said...

In regards to the cell phone issue, Korea uses CDMA and they've dropped their silly WIPI standard which blocked foreign phones. There is absolutely no GSM service in this country, however, I've seen all sorts of CDMA phones from the states function just fine in Seoul.

Provided they are some flavor of CDMA (e.g. Sprint or Verizon in the states) they will function without a problem. You'll only incur the horrendous charges for overseas use.

As for buying a prepaid phone, I've seen some people have difficulty purchasing them without an alien registration card, and other people get by just fine with just a passport. I think its a roll of the dice on that one. It seems as though Itaewon is the best place to get a prepaid handset without an ARC.

MikeInSeoul said...

Depending on your cell phone model, both will likely work here. I've seen GSM phones that have worked here on occasion, especially Blackberries. But previous posters are correct - international fees are brutal, and there's no functional "local SIM" option.

The 3G thing seems like it will make a difference, but it doesn't really. According to an article in the Korea Times yesterday, the providers are even blocking some phone models using the IMEI number (something like a serial number).

A better option to avoid the fees, and absolutely having a phone that works, is to setup a rental from Incheon Airport before you leave. Check the "Renting A Cellular Phone" section of this page:

The Expat said...

Thanks for all the help, guys. I have found out some solid info on the library issue and will be posting on that soon.

The phone stuff still confuses me, so I appreciate that info.

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of online stores where you can get green coffee beans. Just do a search for "생두", but I'd check Cabrosia first (Google it, it's near the top of the search results).

MarkP said...

Up the hill from the Sinchon Rotary (in the direction of Ehwa) is a coffee house called "Bean Tree 200 25". I know it is a odd name for a coffee house, but they roast all their own beans and have boxes of at least six different varieties of green beans sitting out from which they feed their large roaster. They even have little table top roasting machines available that I'm guessing will handle a pound or so of beans. I don't know if they will sell you the green beans or the machines, but it does seem to indicate that they are available. They are serious about their beans and the coffee there is great. It is the best I've tasted in Seoul.

archbishop said...

Thanks for posting, and the answers, about roasting your own coffee. I was mostly kidding when I asked (I hope I'm the bizarre question). I'm one of those people that has to test things when someone says "ask anything".


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