In February 2015, sixteen graphic design students participated in a field study to South Korea for nine days, which encompassed an investigation of design and culture in various important locations. This enriching experience, which mostly took place in Seoul, was an important opportunity for students to develop their critical thinking and cultural understanding skills as well as investigate various aspects of Korean culture.

Students were introduced to important points of contrast between South Korea and Qatar to use as references guiding their experience, including: cultural and social norms, traditional dress, gastronomy, design, language and heritage. To document their experiences, students were provided with a ‘field-notes’ book and encouraged to use it as a basic ethnographic journal to record and express their journey and discoveries.

One of the highlights of the field-study was an overnight stay at the slow city of JeonJu, one of seven ‘slow cities’ in South Korea. ‘Slow City’ refers to a city that pursues sustainable growth and an eco-friendly lifestyle and adopts a ‘slow lifestyle’ philosophy. Students and faculty were able to experience traditional food, lifestyle and dance at JeonJu which presented a rich contrast to the fast-paced city of Seoul.

To help contextualize the complexities of the country, a guided day-trip to the DMZ introduced faculty and students to the historical and cultural significance surrounding the separation of Korea into two countries. Led by a knowledgeable tour guide, the group was introduced to various relics and monuments related to the Korean War and subsequent South-North confrontations.

Other sites and locations experienced in Seoul were Meong-dong, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Paju Book City, Hongdae University, Trick Eye Museum, Myeongdong, Bukhansan National Park, Gyeongbok Palace and the Jogyesa Temple.

Our itinerary for the trip:

GDES Field Study South Korea Spring 2015

Information & Tips

Some useful information and tips if you’re planning to travel to South Korea from Doha (in the Spring)

Local Weather

  • The month of March is characterized by rapidly rising daily high temperatures, with daily highs increasing from 7°C to 13°C over the course of the month.
  • Daily low temperatures range from -3°C to 2°C, falling below -8°C or exceeding 6°C.

Transportation on subway/buses

One basic trip costs is QR 4 depending on the distance. So it might be approx. 30-40QR per day.

Currency/Money

The unit of South-Korean currency is won (KRW)

  • 1 KRW – 0.00090 USD
  • 1 USD – 1,110 KRW
  • 1 KRW – 0.00327 QAR
  • 1 QAR – 304.56 KRW

Cards with the Plus, Cirrus, Maestro, Visa Electron and MasterCard logos are the easiest to use and most widely accepted in Korea.

What to pack/wear

The weather remains chilly in March due to the last cold snaps. It is recommended to wear/bring the following:

  • Wear walking shoes for all events.
  • Long slacks/pants/jeans.
  • Sweaters or light jackets are ideal.
  • Popular spring fashion items include cardigans, scarves, hats and sunglasses.

International Calls

  • Korea country code – (+82)
  • Seoul area code – (02)
  • Incheon area code – (032)
  • Calling Korea from overseas:
  • Dial +85 (area code) (phone number you wish to dial)
  • Cell phone rental services are available at Incheon International Airport and this service must be ordered in advance. Online reservation is possible at www.visitkorea.or.kr

Emergency Situations

Dial 112 for the police, 119 for the fire department, or 1339 for medical emergencies (though most operators speak only Korean). A hotel staff or hotel manager can arrange for a doctor or an ambulance.

Traveler Essentials

Business Hours

  • Department Stores – 10:30 – 20:00
  • Other organizations – 09:00 – 18:00

Electricity & Voltage

  • The standard voltage is 220V and the outlets have 2 round holes.

Food

  • Snack level – decent level: QR 15 – QR 50.
  • Cafe can cost more.
  • Hotel meal can be easily above QR30.
  • Buffet can be QR 150 – 300 at a hotel.