Busan or Ulsan for first time English teachers in South Korea?


I am stuck between these two cities for where to find a job in Korea.  I live in Manchester UK at the moment and love the size of my city, not too big not too small. 

Mainly I am looking for nice green areas and a pretty look to the city but I also love going out (techno clubs etc) and drinking.  I know Busan offers more in this area but Ulsan is a more beautiful city (apparently).  How viable is it to stay in Ulsan then travel to Busan on a weekend to go out? How late does the train operate til?  I am going out to Korea with two friends.

Another thing, does anyone know how possible it is to find schools that will offer an allowance for the accommodation so that we can find a 3 bed apartment ourselves?


Re: Busan or Ulsan for first time English teachers in South ...

The short answer to your question is, Busan is DEFINITELY the preferred place, between the two.

The long of it...

I've had friends who have lived in Ulsan, and their experiences range from downright boring to an abhorrent nightmare (for this girl I knew).  It's a very industrial city with very large business-oriented disctricts, and from what I understand there isn't much to do with save for drinking yourself into a stupor (which most expats enjoy anyway, but I digress).

Something tells me you haven't done much research if you think Ulsan is a "beautiful city".  Geographically speaking, Busan has it beat, hands down.  From the lush, green mountains to the extensive coastlines (and there's more to the coast than just the beaches).  It's also very easy to manage in terms of its size and in terms of getting around.  You could learn it in 3 months.

Nightlife is here in plentiful supply, and you've acknowledged this so I need not say anymore.

Look, I'm biased, to be sure.  Busan is really the "be all, end all " of Korea for me, and I've been to plenty of places in the country.  I've been to Ulsan on two occasions and I can tell you, it really is unremarkable.  I had a friend who lived there who hated the 1 hour bus rides into the city.  She also had some bad experiences with the locals and the neverending flow of drunken businessmen who were quick to harass her if they saw her walking down the street (before any of you decide to try me on that particular remark in a defensive maneuver, I'm not biting).  Granted, that's just one girls experience, so I can't speak for everyone else and I personally have never lived there so maybe my view is diluted.

As for the second part of your question, I think there are some places that might be willing to work something out with you on your contract regarding a housing allowance of sorts, but be warned, the key money (an initial deposit required, in full) for 3 bedroom places is quite high (10 million won, I believe) and you would most likely be expected to front that money yourself.  The allowance you negotiate on your contract would be strictly for the monthly rent.


Re: Busan or Ulsan for first time English teachers in South ...

I have lived in both and by for Busan is better. I will say just be mindful of where you end up as some

places in Busan I would not want to live as they are just to far from where you would probably want to go.

You may think taking subways and taxis is not big deal but after a while it becomes a drag. Kyungsung,

Gwangan, Namchen and down toward Haeundae are the best places to live in Busan I think. Pusan

National University used to be hopping but not as much. Seomyeon is downtown and busy but you can easily

get around town from there. Hadan, Gupo, Hopo and places like this I would avoid. Ulsan is nice but too quiet. Good luck.

Re: Busan or Ulsan for first time English teachers in South ...

Oh Hadan, our initial stomping grounds here in Busan.  Our first six months were spent in Hadan...and they were almost our last.  LOL

Fortunately we were able to move out of that area fairly quickly and into the Namcheon district, before eventually settling into the Haeundae/Jangsan area.

Anything west of Seomyeon is fairly undesirable, though you could do a lot worse than Nampo-dong or Busan Station.

I'm still stuck on how this particular person came to the conclusion that Ulsan was a viable option next to Busan, or that Ulsan is somehow a "beautiful city".


Re: Busan or Ulsan for first time English teachers in South ...

For sure. Ulsan is congested with no subway to get you anywhere. And the downtown sits right off of a huge industrial area. Just not the place for me. There really are no good areas there to hang out and it is definately not beautiful. It is actually the industrial/factory capital of Korea...lol I lasted 2 months in Ulsan. I met some great people there but Busan is the place to live without a doubt.

Re: Busan or Ulsan for first time English teachers in South ...

"Ulsan is a more beautiful city" whoever told you this was either joking or has a mental condition. There's nothing nice about Ulsan: it was a fishing village before it became the home of Hyundai heavy industries. Busan is better in every way.

Re: Busan or Ulsan for first time English teachers in South ...

I lived in Ulsan for my year of teaching English in Korea and I will say this to you: if you have a choice, GO TO BUSAN.  I can't stress this enough.  Ulsan is a place of small people with small minds.  There is very little tolerance for difference.  It is a factory town with the Hyundai car factory, the largest shipbuilding yards in the world, and a petrochemical plant.  The air is not clean.  

While the riverbank walking trails can be pretty, it is not even a little bit worth the aggrivation of living anywhere near the river.  These are main areas and bar districts with all the problems associated therein.  There is no subway, so you either have to bus or cab everywhere.  The cabs are quite economical, but I was kicked out of several cabs for not being Korean.  And yes, there is a problem with being a foreign woman in Ulsan.

It is quite viable to go from Ulsan to Busan for the weekend.  It's an hour by bus.  I did this frequently and I would just find a place to crash for the night.  I have no idea, however, why you would want to spend your year doing this.

I spent the whole year wishing that I was living in Busan.

Re: Busan or Ulsan for first time English teachers in South ...

Yo - just thought I would throw in an alternative view...I spent 6mths teaching in Ulsan

and really quite liked it.  My school, was in Du Gong I think...was over three years ago.

Definately agree with the general vibe of comments - smaller,  old fashioned views, probably

polluted - but then the whole of Korea can be quite grubby -

but great people.

If you like sport - definately take your own mountain bike- they're quite expensive there.

Plus, Ulsan hosts the Asian round of the world windsurfing champs...But as others say you will enjoy Busan more