Monday, March 1, 2010

Korean driver's license vs. international driver's licensee

I wanted to be able to drive in Korea, but I didn't know much about the difference between a Korean driver's license, and an international driver's license. After doing quite a bit of research, the Korean driver's license looked like the better option for two main reasons.

First of all, if you have a valid license from another country and you know how to drive a car, then getting a license in Korea is not that difficult. First they test your eyes to make sure you can see. Then they give you a physical test, which consists of putting your arms straight out in front of you and doing one squat. The cost is around $15 or less. It's really not that difficult. The hardest part was the written test, which was just a bunch a multiple choice questions about car safety and very basic Korean road signs. You'll need to know what a "no parking" sign looks like in Korean (which is funny because those signs are generally not observed anyway), as well as a few others. But it's really not that big of a deal. The most difficult part of the test was trying to decipher the poor English translation. Even despite the translation, I passed it on the first try, without studying at all, other than generally familiarizing myself with the road signs around town.

The second reason I chose to get a Korean driver's license is because it seems to be extremely versatile. It lasts for a long time without expiring, and there are some 44 other countries that recognize it as a legitimate driver's license. So basically, with a Korean driver's license, you can drive just about anywhere in the world. It also serves as a handy form of identification that all Koreans are familiar with.

Admittedly, the only driving that we've really in Korea is on Jeju Island, where the roads are nice and wide, there isn't much traffic, and parking is plentiful. Driving through the center of Seoul might a little more courage. You'll have to be on the lookout for the crazy scooter deliverymen, the people who park in the center of the road, and the taxi drivers who will do anything to get you to your destination in 8 minutes or less (including drive on the sidewalks). But if you're going to drive in Korea, you're going to want to get out of the city anyway, and see some of the more rural areas that are only accessible by car. With a driver's license, you can visit some of the real gems or Korea where ty.he crowds are minimal and the scenery is beautiful. That's where you'll want to be. In other words, you don't get a driver's license in order to drive through Seoul. You get a driver's license in order to get out of Seoul, and see the countryside.

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