Today makes 12 days in Korea but with all the excitement of moving into and furnishing an apartment, starting a new job, and a small panic over a frozen debit card, it feels like it’s been much longer. I’ll try and get up a post about my new job – and maybe one about the debit card panic – by the end of the week, but I’d really like to show off the apartment first. Especially since I’ve been neglecting my loyal readers and Facebook friends alike. Yes, I know you’re basically the same people.
Let me begin by saying I didn’t expect much of a living space. I imagined a single, linoleum-floored room with a stove, cupboards and fridge in one corner and a bathroom in another corner. (Cue the Murphy bed for added effect.) Anything adding to this scene would be a welcome luxury.
I was pleasantly surprised when I stepped into a well apportioned, modern apartment that puts to shame every other dwelling of my adult life. Yes, it’s small – I don’t have a tape measure but it’s definitely less than 400 square feet – but I’d argue that American expectations of square footage are out of touch with the way most other people live. The place is designed to maximize space and doesn’t feel cramped at all. However, I’m most impressed by some of the features and gadgets that came with it.
First, there’s the door lock. I don’t need keys to enter because there’s an electronic keypad — I just enter a code to unlock the door. Inside the door is a small tiled area for people to remove their shoes. Koreans never wear shoes indoors. If I come home at night, a motion sensor above the tiled area switches on a light as I open the door.
When friends come to visit, rather than knocking or ringing a doorbell — how 20th Century — they activate a small PA system with a camera. From my armchair I can look up and see who it is on a wall-mounted screen. (I’m still trying to figure out if it will unlock the door electronically.) It seems needlessly complex, but it’s interesting to think that the technology is widespread to the point of being installed in an entire apartment building. The remote controlled A/C unit is another needlessly complex device.
Forget linoleum, the floors are hardwood throughout, except in the bathroom where both the floor and walls are tiled. I’m told this is for simple cleaning. I just have to grab the hand-held shower and spray down the entire room. All water flows down a drain under the wash basin.
As for space-saving features, the main hallway is closeted on both sides and then doubles as the kitchen while the washing machine also dries clothes. Oh, I almost forgot the giant sliding doors to the bedroom.
The apartment is located smack in the middle of everything. When I leave the building, I emerge onto a bustling city street in the Migeum district of Bundang, loaded with bars, shops and restaurants. The view at night is really cool, as all the neon signs and banners are lit up and people are out having good times. The other great thing about night time is the giant red swastika directly across from my window doesn’t light up at night.
Aside from the daily reminder of European fascism, one of the more annoying things here is the guy who drives around with loudspeakers on his car, chanting the same phrases rhythmically over and over and over. I asked someone what this was about and was told he’s probably a Christians, doing his best to guilt-trip as many people as possible into repentance. Thank God I can’t understand anything the guy says. I don’t need any guilt-trippin’ to ruin this sweet apartment.
Click the thumbnail image below to see all of my apartment pictures. I tried to be slick and embed a slideshow, but WordPress didn’t seem to like the code.