3 Reasons Why You Should Live in Daejeon, Korea
Last year when I was completing my application for EPIK (English Program in Korea) I was convinced that I needed to be in Seoul. I visited Seoul last August and loved the vibes, the food, the excitement of a big city, and the idea of being in a cultural capital of the world. All of my friends live in Seoul. That was without a doubt where I was hoping to be placed.
But when it came time to submit the application I suddenly found myself writing Daejeon as my preference. I had a good shot at Seoul. I have a 270 hour in class TEFL certificate, a year of experience, and I was among the first few people to get an interview. But despite roughly a year of working towards my Seoul goal (forgive me) I put down Daejeon at the last second.
It wasn’t that I decided this on a whim exactly, there were other slightly complicated reasons for my not putting Seoul as my number one choice, but still it was a last-minute choice.
And one that I will be thankful I made for the rest of my life.
If you’re thinking about coming to Korea, with EPIK or otherwise, I know how much pressure there is on what to choose for your location preference. But this blog post today is going to be my attempt to offer up Daejeon as an incredibly underrated but amazing place to live.
So here we go! Here are the 3 main reasons why you should live in Daejeon, Korea.
1.Access to the rest of the country.
Daejeon is considered a hub in Korea for a lot of reasons. The first being political. Many government offices are being moved away from Seoul to the newly developed area of Sejong right outside Daejeon. And because it’s only a 50 minute train ride (which is faster than commuting from one side of Seoul to the other) a lot of government officers can make that commute every day.
Which brings me to the next point, transportation. Daejeon is located just north of the middle of the country. By train, nowhere in Korea is more than 4 hours away, with almost all major cities like Daegu, Busan, and Seoul less than 2 hours away.
Daejeon is also considered to be the science/technology hub of Korea. Due in large part to KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) which is arguably the most important scientific research university in the country, many conventions and such are held in Daejeon. I had a Seoul friend recently stay at my place for a few days because she had to come down for a lecture at KAIST on semi-conductors.
This is probably my favorite thing about this city. It is so incredibly easy to live here. Daejeon is the 5th largest city in Korea and so we are by no means in the country side. There are several “downtown” areas all with plenty of fun and cool things to do.
But Daejeon is not Seoul. Seoul is known for it’s 빨리 빨리 (hurry hurry) culture and this is often one of the things that people who don’t live in Seoul dislike about Seoul or Seoul people. The trains are packed, the streets are crowded, the lines are long, and everyone is in too much of a rush to be considerate of anyone else.
For me at least (and I come from a relatively small town in comparison) Daejeon is the comfort of a big city without the horrible crowds and constant rushing about. People here take a little more time to do things. No one is going to push you out of the way to get onto the subway. And yes we do have a subway here. Just one line, and there’s not a stop by my house so I almost never use it. But it’s very clean, very efficient, and very user-friendly.
But all of this “Daejeon is more relaxed” business is not to say that it isn’t also really fun! There are tons of popular areas like Eunhaengdong, Dunsandong, Daehungdong, Yusong, and Gungdong. Each with their own distinct personalities.
-Dunsan (둔산동): a younger crowd, and more recently developed. In the afternoon/early evening you’ll see a lot of middle/high school students hanging around. At night it’s where a lot of the clubs are. Good area for shopping (Galleria TimeWorld Department store is here) and nightlife.
-Eunhaengdong (은행동): the older downtown area. Also a relatively young crowd during the early evening. Famous for its cool “sky road” which is an outdoor shopping street covered by a giant LCD screen that shows pictures and videos. Good area for eating and hanging out.
-Daehungdong (대흥동): located right next to Eunhaengdong but has a distinctly different feeling. Older crowd with tons of Japanese style Izakaya’s lining the streets. There is an amphitheater where you’ll usually see some group playing on the weekends, and most of the hot spot/trendy cafes are in this area. This is one of my favorite places in Daejeon. Good for food, cafes, and a more intimate feeling nightlife scene.
-Yusong (유성): slightly older crowd (one of my co-workers once told me “Dunsan is for 20 year olds, and Yusong is for 30 year olds.”) This area is a bit more sparse but because of that the places are usually bigger and can seat a ton of people. Lots of really good restaurants and cafes. (My favorite rooftop view of the city is here.)
-Gungdong (궁동): college-y area close to the river. Located near several universities, Gungdong is (in my opinion) like Daejeon’s very small version of Itaewon. Most of the good international food and markets are in this area. Lots of small cafes and restaurants. The vibe here is really good.
(Maybe I’ll start doing some posts about each area of Daejeon, because I remember trying to search about the city before I moved here and finding almost no up to date information in English. Let me know if that would be helpful for anyone!)
3.Experience Korea in a Different Way
Daejeon is not well-known by the world, or even by Koreans in general. All of my Seoul friends who have come to stay with me always make jokes about how they thought Daejeon was in the countryside.
You will get to know Seoul just by consequence of living in Korea. But why not also learn a part of the country that you can feel special about? I’m proud of Daejeon, and I love talking to my Seoul friends about it. Once when I was hanging out with one of my Korean friends and her boyfriend, he suddenly said, “you know, when you say ‘Daejeon’ I feel like you’re a Korean person.”
I feel like Daejeon is my Korean hometown, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten that if it’d just lived in Seoul.
So there you have it. Those are my three main reasons why you should move to Daejeon. I know that EPIK applications are due soon, so if anyone out there is reading this and still undecided about what to put for your preference, let Daejeon be an option! Hope you are well wherever this finds you in the world. Thanks for reading!