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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

How to Beat the Heat and Humidity

Summer in Ulsan can be hard to handle, as the temperatures rise above 30*C (that’s 86*Fahrenheit for those that are metrically challenged) and humidity soars into the 70%-90% range. Here are some methods for dealing with the heat for those of you who may not come from similar climates.

1. Koreans swear by eating hot soup on the 3 hottest days of the summer. These days are pre-determined according to the Lunar Calendar, and are not necessarily the hottest in terms of temperature. Nicknamed the “dog days” or Boknal. This year, July 12th is considered the first hottest day of the summer or chobok (초복). Then the next or “middle” hot day on July 22nd will be joongbok (중복) and finally malbok (말복) will be on August 11th. Many people eat Samgyetang (삼계탕), or chicken soup. Eating hot soup (and you can also spice it up – it’s served with a side of pepper paste and such to mix in if you want) will make you sweat, and when the sweat evaporates from your skin, you’ll feel cooler. samgyetang

2. Another popular summer dish is Naengmyeon (냉면), an icy buckwheat noodle soup where the noodles are served in a cold, vinegary broth filled with crushed ice, and topped by chopped vegetables. It can be an acquired taste, but ask some Koreans to tell you where there is a good naengmyeon restaurant, as quality makes all the difference with this dish. Variations of this iced noodle dish are everywhere. Take a look around for places serving Bimbimmyun and milmyun as well. Just down from the KBS hall in Daldong is Ulsan’s famous area for these iced noodles. There are a few shops that get extremely busy on the hots days.


3. Ice cream and patbingsu (팟빙수) are summer favourites in Korea, this year we are seeing discount ice cream shops popping up all over the place. The original summer dish is still patbingsu (Patbingsu means red beans with ice) but it has evolved from being a bowl of crushed ice topped with sweetened red bean sauce, to include other toppings, like ddeok (rice cake) ice cream and fruit salad. There are many upscale brands and styles to try.


4. Hit the water! Here in Ulsan, we’re lucky to be right on the coast, and we have several beaches within an hour’s drive (closer if you live in Donggu or down near Jinha). There are a lot of swimming pools located around as well a few little waterparks. While these are great places to bring the kids, there are a few major waterparks located around Ulsan and in particular Gyeongju that offer entertainment for the whole family.

5. Put up window shades. If your apartment gets stifling hot during the day, and you either don’t have or don’t want to use air conditioning (or you want to keep your electricity bills within reason), try adding a blind to your windows. White on the outside helps reflect the sun, and it can make a surprising difference on how hot it gets inside.

6. Cold showers and fans. Again, if you’re air-con free for whatever reason, this is a great way to cool your whole body. Take a cool shower (or spritz yourself with water kept in the fridge), and sit or lie in front of the fan to dry off. Repeat as necessary. If you’re worried about Fan Death, most Korean made fans have built in timers, so you don’t have to worry about falling asleep and being assassinated by an appliance.


7. If you are using an air conditioner, make sure your windows and doors are closed to maximize its effectiveness and minimize your bill size. You should also check the filters on your unit to make sure that they are not full of mold. Often the filters get full of some pretty nasty stuff. You can buy air-con cleaner from most marts that will clean the filters and kill the bacteria.

8. The extra humidity in the air can cause some wet, sticky, embarrassing problems for some folks. If you’re finding you need to wring out your clothes part way through the day, try buying some athletic gear that is made from “technical fibers” that wick sweat and moisture to the outside of the clothes, allowing it to evaporate quickly. Cotton tends to hold moisture, so while it can feel cooler when you first put it on, if you sweat, it’ll stay damp for ages (which is why it’s not a great fabric for winter wear). Also, choose colours that are lighter, as they reflect the heat better than dark tones, and loose fitting clothes that allow air to move against the skin. Make a not that many Korean schools or business still expect you to wear pants (for men) and more conservative fashion for women. This means that they will not appreciate tank tops and beach wear in the office or classroom.

We've all been there...

We’ve all been there…

9. Make sure you drink plenty of  liquids throughout the day. Being dehydrated raises your body temperature, so drinking lots of water to replace the stuff lost to perspiration is really important, moreso if you’re active. If you’re exercising in this heat, now’s the time to consider sports drinks to keep well hydrated. These days, Ulsan is dominated by iced coffee places where you can get a venti sized cup (or larger… see below) of your favourite iced coffee beverage for around 1,500 won. These places are everywhere and they have become standard drink for most people in the summer.

10. Use a homemade cold compress to cool your sheets for a better night’s sleep. Fill a cotton sock with rice, and tie it off. Then freeze the sock for two hours. Then you can either rub it over your sheets to cool the bed, or put it on the back of your neck to cool your body. The rice will hold the cold for a long time, and won’t get everything all wet. It’s like the opposite of a hot water bottle for the winter.

You can also find summer “cooling” sheets and “cool mats” that are made to trap cool air or are filled with a gel that keeps cool longer. Some of these can be gimmicks but if you find yourself without an air-con this summer it can help you get a decent nights rest.

Ulsan does get really hot and humid during the summer. By using some of these tips you can hopefully make the best out of it.