After recently buying a new car and previously owning a used car I thought I’d share my rough guide to owning a car in South Korea. This is only a rough guide to the costs and other elements you may need to consider as there are many different variables involved. Honestly many elements are the same in Korea as they are in the UK (and I’d guess other nations). I’ve split this guide into four sections; Buying, Insurance, Fuel & Others.
Once thing before we start, having a Korean Driving License is important when buying a car and sorting out insurance, so that’s a first step before car ownership in my opinion.
Buying a Car in South Korea
Just like in other countries there are three main options; new, used via dealership or used via private sale. A new car is often the most expensive and difficult especially for expats looking for financing (basically only possible for F-Series Visa holders). Costs start from just under ten million won for a new Chevy Spark or Kia Morning upwards. Then you have to pay tax and registration fees on top of that. It’s only maybe an option for those in Korea long term (like myself).
Buying via a used car dealership can be cheaper but also a risky move, the price you see often isn’t the price you pay as other fees and commissions won’t be included in list price. Look for recommendations and check all of the fees before getting too involved. Also remember that prices can be higher than back home as cars can retain their value a little better at the moment in Korea.
SK Encar is a nice resource for at least doing a little price comparison.
Finally buying privately is the cheapest option, and maybe the best if you’re looking for something affordable. The negative is that much of the paperwork required will be in Korean, so keep this in mind. The used car market in Korea is pretty busy these days, however the scrap value is also pretty good and therefore you’ll struggle to find a solid car much under a million won.
Facebook groups and Craigslist are the easier options in English.
Car Insurance in South Korea
Car Insurance in Korea is a little less competitive than in England for example, but honestly the price is generally lower. I’ve never paid over a million won for a years coverage, and have paid as little as 400,000원.
Personally I go with Samsung for car insurance. They have a solid English service and the price for me has always been the cheapest. Plus they offer AnyCar roadside assistance, so if you have a problem you can at least get home.
Car Fuel in South Korea
Petrol / Gasoline is a tiny bit more expensive in Korea then Diesel, with LPG being cheaper still. Prices of course range but 1,600원 a little is a solid estimate (as of January 2020). These days most stations as Self Service and the payment machines offers an English option.
Also; Diesel = 경유, Petrol = 휘발유
Others Car related costs in South Korea
There are a number of other car related costs that I’ll cover quickly here;
Parking – Some apartment buildings offer parking for free, others charge per car. Some villas and officetels for example don’t offer parking and street parking in certain areas can be a nightmare. So check before buying a car.
Tolls – Firstly tolls in South Korea offer two different payment options Highpass or Cash. HighPass is requires a registration and a box, but you can drive through quickly. Cash (or even T-Money) is the other option. Different tolls charge different amounts, but it’s usually for motorways (freeways).
Car Tax – This is paid either yearly or every six months. I differs depending on your car and where you live. Roughly it’s starts around 60,000원 per year, be can be more.
Fines – Speed cameras are everywhere in South Korea and they will catch you if you’re not careful. Too many and you can lose your license. Also parking tickets are also a common expense.
Maintenance – Korea is pretty good when it comes to car repair costs. If you have a Korean Car then you’ll easily find a garage, however they rarely speak English.
Any thoughts, comments or questions. Feel free to comment below or message me via Twitter.