How To....

Get started on a Motorbike

by Fin Madden


There are many theories about the legality of riding bikes here. Take it from somebody who has been wedged under, bounced off, or landed on most models from the local Hyundai plant; being legal is a must. Here is the down and dirty of how to get a license, register, and insure your bike. It is commonly believed that you need a license for any bike over 50cc’s. This is not true; you need a drivers license to drive ANY bike that has more than pedals. Your home license is NOT enough, you must have either an international drivers pe rmit, or a Korean drivers license. The international drivers license is only issued in your home country, and it’s only valid for one year. A Korean license is not difficult to get and if you are Canadian, congratulations, you just won a prize.

Of all the foreign countries, Canada is the only one where you can simply exchange your license for a 2 Jongbutong, or level 2 car license. This makes it legal for you to drive a regular car (less than 13 passengers) and a 124.9cc motorbike or scooter. For anything over 124.9ccs you need a motorbike license. The test is simple to arrange through the drivers office, and happens every first and third Thursday of the month.

You arrive, pay your 5000 won and wait in a viewing room as various people make asses out of themselves. They give you a 250cc Hyosung Mirage which you have no time to aquaint yourself with, and then you have to ride through the four challenges. If you put your foot down or hit a sensor you get a fault, one fault, okay, two faults goodbye. It is simply steering and balance, there is no braking involved in the test. To get any license you need at least 3 passport sized photos of yourself, your alien card, and a Korean speaking friend. Now you’ve got a’s time to insure that bike.

You do not have to have license plates for a 50cc bike, nor do you need insurance...but it’s not a bad idea. For anything over 50cc’s you need to register your bike with the district office, or -gu office. Again, this seems simple, but without a Korean speaker, you are going to spend the better part of your life in waiting rooms drinking stale coffee.

The most foreign friendly insurance company is Hyundai. Their first level of
coverage is 10 million won to the other guy’s car, and limitless to the other person. 50cc costs about 90,000 won, 125cc is about 110,000 won, and anything larger will cost you a bit more. The second level of insurance is maximun 20 million on the car, so if, like me, you like hitting luxury cars, this might be for you. 50cc will cost you 275,000 won, and above will cost you over 300,000 won. The third level of insurance is probably best if you do not have medical insurance. It will cost you around 450,000 won, but it covers 25 million to the car, unlimited to the other person, and 15 million for yourself.

Unfortunately there is NO theft insurance currently available for your bike, so the only thing you can do is lock it up, twice or three times if necessary. You’ll
need to have your alien card, driver’s license and a Korean friend to do all the telephone work for insurance.

To sell a bike you have to have your alien card, the certificate with the big seal, and the number plate (unless it’s 50cc). If not the bike is likely stolen, and it might get seized by the police with no recompensation. The two best guys to help you sort through everything are Jay at Bangeojin Autobike, and Mr. Goh at Daegyung in Bangeojin. To get to the drivers license office, take hwy 24 to Eonyang and head through town, following signs for Seoknamsa. After Eonyang you will see signs for the Drivers Licenses Examination center. It’s on the left.