Strange Encounters: Yeongwol

When you open the front door of our apartment, it creates a loud sucking sound as the air rushes in from the open windows in the bedroom. The noise can catch you off guard when you’re not expecting it.

And at 10:30 pm on a Tuesday night, I definitely wasn’t expecting it.

Jugong Apartments, Yeongwol, Korea
Yes, there are bars on the window. And now I understand why.

Jared and I were nearly asleep when there was a loud *BANG* at the door. The bedroom windows vibrated angrily, and we both sat bolt upright.

“It’s him,” I said. “It’s got to be the same guy.”

A few months ago, a really drunk dude decided that our apartment was actually his apartment, and spent a good five minutes trying to gain entry with his key. There are fifteen identical floors in the building, so we assume he pressed the wrong button in the lift and, in a haze of soju, headed to the right apartment on the wrong floor.

And now he was back for more.

Jared pulled on a t-shirt and sighed. “Ajosshi,” he said. “Waegook saram jib-ae issoyo.” This is a foreigner’s house.

The man grunted a few times and rattled the doorknob.

Jared slid open the window in the computer room, which looks out into the hallway. He calmly and respectfully told the man that this was not his house, and could he please go home.

The man stared at Jared through the screen, and understanding flashed in his eyes.

“Jwaesonghamnida,” he muttered. I’m sorry. The sound of his shuffling feet got quieter and the door to the staircase creaked open.

“I’m not convinced,” Jared said. We stood in the living room, arms crossed, listening tensely.


He was back, kicking the wall and slamming his hand against the door. He shouted some unintelligible nonsense, presumably exhorting his wife to hurry the hell up and let him in.

Jugong Apartments, Yeongwol, Korea
Evidence of his wild kicking spree. You can see it if you get real close to the screen.

“Jesus,” I said. “I’m calling the security guard.”

There’s an ancient little uniformed man who holds court in a hut in the parking lot for our building. We’ve got a phone in the apartment that connects to him at the push of a button. (It’s also a video phone for when the doorbell rings, which still feels like space-age technology to me.)

The phone rang. The door continued to shake as the drunk man fiddled with his key in our lock. I hoped that one of our neighbors would happen to walk by and rescue us. The phone kept ringing.

No answer.

“What kind of security is this?” I seethed. We didn’t want to open the door in case he forced his way in, but we couldn’t make him understand that this wasn’t his house.

“Ajosshi,” I bellowed. “Balli KA!” Hurry up and GO, said as you would to a child.


Jared slid open the window again, and the same flash of understanding flickered across the stranger’s face.


He stumbled away, this time for good.

Korea’s a safe place, but you better believe we lock the door every single night.


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  1. Agh! The worst that drunk people have done to me in Korea is yell at me and puke on me. I think attempted home invasion is worse…

      1. I guess when you put it that way… I almost walked away in time to not be puked on, but I got a bit of the splatter sadly. Just some guy on the subway…

  2. Wow! Unfortunately I think this is a common occurrence, it happened several times to us whilst we lived there but this time it was a lady and she wouldn’t take no for an answer until we opened the door and she sheepishly smiled and wandered away upstairs. It also happened to the Korean lady across the hall from us. Figures.

    1. What is the deal with people? You’d think that when you heard unfamiliar voices in ‘your’ apartment, you would start to suspect something was up. Makes me feel better that it happens more frequently than I thought!

  3. Hi, I just found this. I am getting a teaching job in Yeongwol soon and I was wondering if you had heard of “win study”. Off to read your blog!

    1. Welcome to Yeongwol!! I think I know where Win Study is, but I’m not too sure. I’m not too up to speed on the hagwons in town. When do you arrive?

      1. Not sure, sometime in August if I come. I am currently doing due diligence on the school before signing the contract. Is the food particularly expensive there or can a smart person eat on the inexpensive side? Anything you would think deserves a mention about the area besides what is in your blog posts (I have read all the ones pertaining to Korea and many more beside)?

  4. Hey! I am looking to apply to teach in South Korea. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and I am currently taking an online TEFL course.

    Do you have any teaching programs that you recommend? Or any tips for getting accepted into a program?


    1. Hi Brendan, I taught through the EPIK program, which is run by the Korean government. I applied through Footprints Recruiting to find the job and found them good to deal with. Getting accepted wasn’t too difficult, but it will go much smoother if you have all of your documents in order and ready to go. That was probably the most time-consuming part, but it still wasn’t too bad. My husband also has a bachelor’s in Economics and did an online TEFL and didn’t have any trouble getting a position (we used the same recruiter). However, I think that things have changed in terms of eligibility requirements so I’d recommend having a look at the EPIK website. Good luck to you!!

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