Life in Gangneung 강릉 Life in Korea 한국

Korean Banking 101

Living as an Expat there are a lot of Banks that are recommended to go with when you live in Korea. KEB and Citibank seem to be the two that most people recommend. With that being said if you live in a city your options are pretty limitless, however, living in a rural part of the country your options are normally limited to one. My only option is Nonghyup bank as that is what my school uses.

So a few weeks ago as you know I set up my bank account by myself, and once I was paid I have been trying to figure out how to send money home. My online banking would not let me do it. Although there is an option to do so it is a no-go. So I had to take the bus for a 40 minute ride into the city and head to the bigger branch of the bank. With my limited Korean we got the online banking working although they told me it was cheaper to send money online so go do it at home later.I was okay with this solution as I am always looking to save money. However, I went to school the next day to see if worked and it didn’t. At first I thought it was because the amount was too high but that wasn’t it either.  My co-teacher looked over and said you need to make ‘another’ bank account it seems at the main branch.

A different one?…. my words were less than wonderful as I said, “stupid fucking bank,” three students happened to be in the office and giggled after hearing me swear.  So my co-teacher said to try the bank next to my other school I teach at, however, I was weary of this option as the other school is much smaller. Yet, they have a ‘real’ Nonghyup bank. I am banking with Nonghyup bank but it is more for farmers? (Something along those lines..they are connected but I can’t do certain things because of it.)

So I went in and showed them my scribbled note of what I wanted to do and the guy told me, ” No, go to Gangnueng or the post office.” I have never walked out of a bank hating it so much. I’m just sending money home it isn’t some weird shit. So I trek back to the school and talk to my male co-teacher who I work with on Mondays. I showed him my note and he called the bank and then the post office and we walked over together. I had to send money via the post office and the limit is $1,000/ a day.  So I sent that and had to run over to the bank to withdraw the money. Now, I could have waited until another day to fix the mistake but at the time I wasn’t sure when I would make it to the real bank and the tax man is waiting to be paid back home.

So today came and I was lucky enough to get off early and receive a ride from another teacher who also had to go to Gangneung. My co-teacher fixed my note and I handed it to the lady at the counter who spoke a little English and shuffled me over to the side that wires money. The funny thing is I ended up with the same lady who helped me with the online banking last time and she said it should work in Korean and was really surprised. So she called again and double checked everything.

We then went over to another computer and she watched as I tried to do what I normally do and when it didn’t work she realized it was because of my bank account. So we made another one quickly and moved enough money over so I could transfer what I wanted. We ran back to the other computer and successfully put the transfer through on the third try. This was after I changed the amount I was sending and I finally remembered my password for transferring. Thankfully, I am not very original with passwords because I have moments where I blank out completely what they are so they are always simple enough for me to remember. After successfully finishing I thanked her very much.

So now I can send money home when I want. I need to transfer my money from the account where my wages are deposited to the ‘official nonghyup account’ and then I can send money overseas. However, I can only send roughly $800 at a time.  The exchange rate also sucks for me. Coming here from the USA it was great. Sending money home not so much. So I think I’m going to skip a month at a time and send a bit one month and then make a larger transfer every two months.  I wanted to send another $500 home but I didn’t have enough moved over as it was 576,000 won, and  I only  put 519,000 won in the new account. So the exchange rate is definitely in favor of the dollar.

Finally this banking debacle is sorted the only thing left to do is get a check card so I can use it at stores instead of just the ATM.

My lovely note in Korean. As you can see I have writing everywhere and definitions for words I didn’t know. My grammar isn’t perfect but it was my attempt to jot down my ideas before I walked in and forgot everything I wanted to do.


My co-teachers note, much shorter and straight to the point.


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