Get tips for sending mail to Korea, find out about Korean address system, how to send packages and envelopes, and see examples of proper addressing.
My fingers were trembling with excitement as I pried opened the package. The package that had been sitting on his desk in Korea just a few days ago. Now it was with me, on the other side of the world. It was the first package I received from so far away.
And it was the first tangible evidence I had that he wasn’t just a fantasy. He was real, just as the rough cardboard box in my hands was real.
And only one question remained: what is in it?
I think Internet is amazing. It gives us something no one had in the past – instant connection no matter how far away the other person is. Without internet, there wouldn’t be “us”. But there are some things internet can’t convey.
Like the soft touch of fluffy pastel colored socks that were in that first package, the seductive smell of perfume he sprayed over them, the smooth plastic cover of bright Korean textbook, the smell of new paper and rustling of pages as I flipped through them, the soothing touch of wooden chopsticks, and the ice cold metal and the clinking of his dog tags.
That package told me two things. One, this man I loved but had never met knew me well: he knew my feet always get cold, he knew I had a big passion for learning his language and loved books, he knew I had been dying to try eating with chopsticks. Two, he loved me too.
That was clear when he chose me to be the one to have his dog tags. Dog tags that he had worn for two years, which meant so much to him, and he just gave them to me, a woman he had never met. Beat that internet.
At the same time he sent me his package, I sent mine as well. Even though we had no idea what the other one sent, the contents were surprisingly similar. He sent chopsticks, I sent a fork, he sent dog tags, I sent my necklace, he sent a textbook in his language, I sent a phrasebook in mine…
Those packages told us we can trust each other, they told us the other person cared, and they told us we were ready to meet. We still send packages when we are apart, and while they are not as profound as the first one, they still connect us, and give us a glimpse into each other’s lives.
How to write Korean address
South Korea uses Japanese addressing system. Instead of naming streets, it names areas in between the streets – the street blocks. Instead of assigning building numbers linearly following the street, it assigns them in the chronological order in which they were built. While this complicates things substantially for mail carriers, who might find house number 231 next to a 19, it actually doesn’t matter to you at all when you are sending mail.
There is also a second, newer system, using street names and building numbers in order. It’s coming alive this year, but you can still use the old address until 2014.
What you need to write:
- Name of the recipient If the address is written in Korean, family name is written first. It is not rude to leave out a person’s title, something that should never be done in spoken Korean. If you wish to include it, write person’s profession (example: 선생님) after the name. If you don’t know their profession just add 씨. You can even write 오빠.
- Address Korean addresses don’t have any line convention so you can write it all in one line. If it can’t fit, break it into multiple lines as you wish.
- Postal code should be included for clarity. It is a 6-digit number written in the nnn-nnn format.
- Phone number is optional. However, as I mentioned before, it is rather difficult to guess where a building is located based on its address. That is why Koreans tend to include recipient’s phone number. I always write down Kimchi Man’s number so if a post carrier can’t find his house he can give instructions on the phone (“It’s the house with the white dog.”)
South Korean address format example
This is an example of writing a Korean address on standardized envelope:
Should I write the address in Korean or Latin (Roman) alphabet?
When I am sending a package from Europe to Korea, I write both, but that is just because I am overly cautious. Romanized address is enough. I wouldn’t advise writing address only in Korean because I seriously doubt people working in post offices outside of Korea will be able to decipher it.
A few final tips when sending post to Korea:
- South Korea is divided into provinces, counties, etc. which are in Korean called: do, kun, si, ku, dong, op, dong, ri, and so on. You might recognize these endings in the address.
- Don’t forget to include the country.
- Relax. I sent a package or an envelope many times only to realize I forgot to include the phone number, or the address in Hangul. It arrived every time promptly and without any problems. Post office knows what they’re doing. :)
- Korea Post Tracking (EMS)
- Addresses in South Korea wikipedia
- Korea Post (English option is at the top)
If you have any questions or need further help with sending parcels to Korea, leave it in the comments below.
See more in this series of posts:
|Long distance relationship advice|
|Free text and call Korean apps|