A Special Shout Out to My Dad and His Advice

31 Oct 2008
Posted by Marisa
Marisa's picture

So my Dad always used to tell me before traveling that I should always travel with $200 cash, just in case. Me, in my wise generational wisdom, thought this was somewhat useless advice, since I have a credit card, and a debit card, where could I possibly go that would not be able to access my money? Afterall, "MasterCard, it's everywhere you want to be" right? Normally I travel with $20 so I can buy a hamburger at the airport.

But this post is to let everyone like me know that my Dad was right. You can travel to places that won't be able to access your money. Even places as seemingly advanced as South Korea. After being rejected from several ATMs around town, we learned that most of the Korean ATMs aren't hooked up to the international network. Suddenly, Jordan and I found ourselves with no money. I had to go to school one morning with only 2000 won (about $2) which needed to get me to and from school. Life is a bit different when you suddenly realize that you have no money.

The situation isn't as bad as I'm making it seem. Despite the one day when I only had $2 to my name, our credit cards do work in Korea and most places where we spend our money will accept them (the grocery store, the dollar store, and many restaurants). For the small things like the bus and taxis, we were lucky enough, despite my disbelief in my Dad's advice, to travel with a decent amount of cash, which we were able to convert and have been using stingily until we manage to get a Korean bank account, where all our hard earned money will be deposited and easily accessed by even the most Korean of the Korean ATMs.

The Hood at Night


Welcome to the Cash-Driven Society

It's actually a lot easier to get by without cash here than it is in Japan.

I should tell you that you'll only be able to access your Korean money at the ATMs owned by the bank at which you have your account. This shouldn't be a problem as all the banks have ATMs up all over the place anyway, but you also need to know that (unless you're lucky enough to be with KB or another really special bank) the ATMs here have operating hours. I can only withdraw my money from my NongHyup account on weekdays from 10:00am to 6:00pm and on Saturdays from 10:00am to 12:00pm. (OK, technically I could do it after hours but this results in a rather nasty fee.) Since I'm often at work past 6:00 in the evening, this has created some interesting cash crunches...

Boy, this was a depressing comment. Um. Seriously, mostly Korea is great!


Reply to "Shout out to dad..."

I too had Matthew's dilemma of only being able to reply to his comment, not the post about the "shout out to dad" (which would be me). I enjoyed reading and viewing your blog; you two will certainly keep the family informed. I'm pleased you survived the money crunch upon arrival and have found donuts comparable to Cub. I hope your uncle Mark reads the post, he may want to share the connection with his colleagues at work. Enjoy your transition to a new culture. -- Q8dad