The Agony and the Ecstasy of Buying a Car in Korea

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As usual, I managed to go for weeks without posting, despite my best intentions. There's something about vacation that just sucks away what little ability I ever had to stick to deadlines or regimes, and suddenly it's been weeks and nothing at all productive has been done, even though I actually have more free time. It's a great mystery of my own personal universe.

In my defense, a lot has been going on. I did manage to buy my car, but not after what were probably the most stressful 48 hours of my life. Buying the car itself was pretty easy, but trying to get insurance...well, the phrase "when it rains, it pours" is pretty accurate here. Okay, story time.

So, I was cutting it pretty close, budget-wise, but I was pretty sure I had everything worked out. I'd heard from various people a ballpark range for insurance for a year, and naturally I divided that over 12 months and figured it was totally doable. That was, of course, where I made my first mistake.


Unless you have a KOREAN credit card, you have to pay for a whole year of insurance all at once. Also, at least based on my own experience, that card has to be in your name, so no putting it on your incredibly generous and kind friend's card and paying her back. That was the original plan, but you know what they say about the best laid plans...

So, about 48 hours before I was slated to buy the car, I discovered that A) my plan for paying for insurance wasn't going to work and B) I had to somehow get my hands on over $1000 in a very short amount of time. Normally I'd make a withdrawal from the National Bank of My Mom for an emergency like this, but since it takes time to transfer money overseas, that route was out.

Fortunately, I am in possession of more than one incredibly generous and kind friend. I was stressing to Harry over FB when he just...offered to loan me the money. He even bullied me into accepting his help, totally against my wishes. In the end, his mom helped me to find a slightly more affordable plan, and talked me through the whole process and loaned me the money to pay for it.

That whole 24 hour period of uncertainty about insurance filled me with so much stress and anxiety my body started to think it was having a heart attack. The only other time that has ever happened to me was when I was preparing to move to Korea; it's pretty intense and scary, but at least this time I knew what was happening.

So finally, I reached the day: Friday the 13th. I signed the lease of one of my favorite apartments on a Friday the 13th during a thunderstorm, so I feel that the date is relatively auspicious. I wasn't able to officially leave work early to meet Adele at the car registration office, but my coteacher said, with a wink, that I could take a "long lunch" and promised to cover for me if anyone asked where I was.

Registering the car was probably the easiest part of the process, though if you don't speak any Korean it's probably a good idea to bring a Korean-speaking friend, as all the forms are in Korean. We were also really lucky to have the help of one of the office ladies who spoke fantastic English. She shepherded us through all the different steps, and before I knew it, I was handing over an envelope full of money to Adele in exchange for the car registration and keys.

And then...I drove back to school. In my car.

He's a beauty.

So yeah. That's pretty much the most interesting thing that's happened in the past few weeks. If you need any tips or more specific information, I'd be happy to answer questions to the best of my ability! It's really hard to find reliable information about all this stuff.

Teacher Pretty
Middle school ESL teacher, lover of pink, eater of kimchi, addicted to Etude House, expert procrastinator, meeter of 2-dimensionial popstars: Ana. That's me.

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Joined: 11/02/2010
Re: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Buying a Car in Korea

Wow- getting car insurance was probably the most stressful 48 hours of your life-


Welcome to the grown up world!

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