How to Not to Die in Korea this Winter, Part 1 : What to Wear

This is just part of a series of articles to help anyone survive the harsh post-apocalyptic wasteland that Korea becomes in the Wintertime. Stay tuned for additional tips on how to stay warm and comfortable without… you know, dying.

This one in particular has been specifically tailored to apply to both men and women. So keep that in mind when reading below.

It’s officially cold and I’m already beginning to fantasize about California beach weather. The temperature in South Korea will drop down to minus 10 centigrade at points with enough wind chill to give Frosty the Snowman a cold. For foreigners, the wintertime is less about looking good and more about surviving the harsh cold and thick snows that’ll eventually come to blanket the country. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but after your first winter here it’s about time to start dressing like you know a damn. And for those who don’t “know a damn”, that’s what I’m here for.

Personally, during the winter and summer months I don’t dress as much for fashion as much as I do for function. During the summer I want to keep cool and during the winter I want to… not freeze to death. So while there may be other options, these are what keep me warm. But just because I want to be warm doesn’t mean I don’t want to look good at the same time.

This looks like a Axe Body Spray commercial gone horribly wrong.

Here’s a few things in my closet that are going to be essential to me surviving the winter:

This one is on "gmarket" for ~$230. It's not bad but you can find cheaper (and more expensive ones) if you head to Myeongdong.
            • The Pea Coat

It doesn’t matter where you work whether it’s a small school, after-school study program or a multi-million dollar company because you need a Peacoat. Don’t go cheap, don’t go for the no-name brands and do go for the nicer (and noticeably warmer) coats that you’ll find in department stores (~ 200,000 Won). A thick windbreaker is a fluffy, warm and much cheaper than other alternatives. It may not be the most fashionable alternative but it’ll keep you warm during the windy nights and keep you looking fluffy during the day (~ 40,000 Won).

Personally I have three, one shorter black one, a full coat in black and another in brown.

  • Scarves and Neck Warmers

The warmest part of my wardrobe is usually my neck warmer.These are typically one thick loop that is closed and made out of cashmere, wool or cotton. These things are great at trapping heat around my neck and chest and will keep you warm if you wear a jacket over them. These may work better than scarves but conversely they’ll run about ~30,000 Won and up and while a scarf will usually run you about ~20,000 Won.

  • Some Timberland boots which'll run you upwards of ~90,000 Won. Better than ruining those Special Edition Star Wars Sneakers that you bought and never could find again. Sigh... was that a little too specific?
  • Boots and Kicks

Just as important as a jacket, layers, scarf, and gloves (and, yes, warm pants) are a good pair of shoes. Last year I went with a good pair sneakers with good grips and thickness to insulate against the cold. It didn’t work well. This year I’m going with a good pair of boots with warm insulation meant to work with the cold weather and snow. You can find boots at most shoe stores (ABC Mart, malls, etc.) but be wary of knockoffs, they won’t last you very long and won’t insulate against the cold very well.

So that’s it, really. I’ll probably put up a few posts on outfits and clothes that I find in stores that’ll look nice and keep you warm later on. Look out for Part II on how to stay warm coming soon.

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