My Entry for the

Wicked gross, isn't it?

My Entry for the “Worst Housing in Korea” Contest

April 30, 2009  |  Expat Life, Life in Korea, No Sidebar, Travel

So, since Kimchi Ice Cream is having a contest to see who lived in the most abominable conditions in Korea, I have decided to compile some of the photos I have of the place I lived here on the island for a few months, until I moved into my new place.  Here you go:

It had the worst heater ever and so the hot water was minimal, there were dead insects everywhere, and I saw live centipedes in the bathroom on more than one occasion.  Bugs would fall off the ceiling onto me when I laid in bed to use my computer.  The only furniture in the entire building was my bed, so I made a table and nightstand out of some cardboard boxes, and did everything in bed.  I didn’t really have much other option, as there was so little space that I could touch 3 of the 4 walls from my bed and if I stretched my leg out, I could touch my kitchen cabinets from the end of my bed.  The “bedroom” was so full of black mold that the wallpaper was rotting off the wall in the corners, and it reeked so badly that I used the room only for non-essential storage and kept the door closed the rest of the time.  My internet was censored, as the school was too cheap to actually get me real internet, opting instead to just string a long ethernet cable from the school to my house, which they then brought in through a hole in the window and hung in a coil on the wall.  I had no washing machine and so washed my clothes in the sink.  When I hung them outside, my kids would walk past my clothes all day on their way to the cafeteria or the gymnasium.  I never got any snarky remarks about the color of my underwear, but I didn’t exactly enjoy having to display my (literally) dirty laundry in front of the kids on a weekly basis.

That housing, combined with the fact that I was teaching at 7 different schools all over the island (in fact, one was on a secondary island and required a 2 hour commute), nearly drove me to do a midnight run (which is what we call it when a teacher packs up and leaves Korea in the middle of the night to avoid being detained at immigration).  Thankfully, right about the time I was getting fed up with everything, my new apartment was finished being remodeled, and I was reduced from 7 schools to 3 schools, a much more manageable number.

Now that I’m getting ready to leave Jindo I actually like it here, but man, I had some really, really dark days when I was living in that mold and bug-infested pit.


  1. John from Daejeon

    Wow! That looked like a really rough living arrangement while shuttling between all those schools.

    My place isn’t great, but it is very convenient as it is close to Costco, major shopping areas, and only a three minute walk to my hagwon. However, it is always rocking as it is above a norebang (singing room) which took me some time to get used to. It’s after 1 a.m. now and the walls are still vibrating.

    The worst thing about my apartment happened during my second month here when I got some new neighbors—a newlywed couple who fought and screamed constantly from the time they got in at 1 a.m. until the time they left in the morning at 5 a.m. (They must have slept on the job because I know they didn’t in their apartment). I so wanted to call the police every night, but I was warned by my colleagues at work that that wasn’t a good idea because I was a foreigner and it is none of my business concerning what is happening next door. Am I ever so glad that all of those colleagues have moved on. However, during their final night next door, it was so bad that I finally broke down and was picking up the phone to dial 119 when I heard all hell break loose in the hallway. It seems that my neighbor across the hall neighbor had finally had enough and earlier had confronted these lovebirds with the fact that he had called the police over the nonstop beatings and screaming going on, and the police had just arrived to find the husband covered in blood after being stabbed by his wife. It was intense and insane at the same time. I was pushed back into my apartment after stepping out to see what all the commotion was about, but I did see blood all over the inside of their kitchen, and he was gushing blood as they drug him into the hall and down the stairs and took her away as well.

    It seems that the husband was being beaten every night by the wife because he had lied to her about his station in life and did not have the money to support her as I guess he had promised. Then when she heard that the police were coming from the neighbor she really freaked out and went berserk with a knife. Later, the next day, I found out that the young man was pretty much dead when the police had the building manager open the door. I was a bit upset with myself and my other neighbors for not getting involved sooner, but I don’t know if the outcome would have been any different. It also still frustrates me to no end that I can’t help any of my kids that have mental problems because of the stigma attached to that over here.

    To this day, I don’t know if the building manager has had to divulge what previously happened in the apartment, because in the following two and a half years he hasn’t been able to keep renters in the apartment. They barely last a week or two. What was also really weird is that there was no mention of it in the local press, but some of my kids had some pretty far-fetched versions of what actually happened thanks to all the gossip. It sort of shocked them when they found out that I lived right next door and had seen the crime scene. It did bring me closer to my other neighbors, but they have also moved on since then. It’s sort of funny, that the foreign person has the most seniority in this small apartment building and at my hagwon (well, other than the owners).

  2. Wow. That’s pretty incredible!

  3. Um. Wow. I’ve had minor problems with this apartment, like one wall bowing itself out to expose the insulation (or possibly asbestos?) underneath, and peeling wallpaper, or whatever, but this puts all of that in perspective. Thanks, and congrats on surviving. Seriously.


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