Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Pyeongtaek Splash Pads Open July & August

Once summer hits we are all looking for ways to beat the heat. One of the most enjoyable ways to fend off the intrusive rising temps is to visit one of the various splash pads installed around the area. We have tracked down five of our favorites and added them to the app. These aren't the only ones in town. There is also one at Pyeongtek lake, another in Seosabol, and a third near Pyeongtaek University. Someday we will get those entered. For now, these are the 5 we have focused on. To find them just put Splash Pads into the Pyeongtaek "search" like this:

These lovely havens from heat only operate in July and August and have a set schedule throughout the day. For a few of the ones listed in the app, we have even figured out what these times and dates are and posted them. We don't have the schedules for all of them because they weren't available at the time. The schedules look like this:

Also, and this is a big one, we have included Cultural Notes in each splash pad listing so you can better understand the social rules associated with splash pads and don't get caught off guard. Knowing what's expected ahead of time will help you feel more comfortable and have a stress free playtime:

Now that we have you oriented to how the place pad listings work, let's take a quick look at our five picks and what neighborhoods they are in:


Pyeongtaek City
(Great for adults and kids)

Countryside West

(Great for adults and kids)

An area in east Pyeongtaek

You can find the addresses and waze pins for each of these listings in the South of Seoul app which can be downloaded from Google Play or Apple App Store. We aren't trying to be jerks, we just can't keep up on information in two areas. Keeping all the information in the app helps us stay more accurate. We hope you have an awesome time out exploring the neighborhoods and play in the summer sun. 

Sunday, June 10, 2018

How to get Better Service in Korea

Written by: Chrisi Cline

I have a question for you:

Do you deserve the service you are getting?

The other day I walked into a shop to find a present for a friend’s upcoming birthday. I was going a mile a minute when I realized that I wasn’t making sense to them. That quick pause helped me to see I was acting like they should stop everything they were doing and serve me immediately. My behavior was rude and entitled. On top of that, I was forcing them to read my mind. If I didn’t change my approach I was going to leave without a solution for a birthday present. I took a deep breath and willed myself to start over. This time focusing on being aware that they did not know all the details I know. And what do you know? Their expression and attitudes towards me changed.

The funny thing is, this happened in Texas. The “other day” was several years ago and the language barrier was over our different accents. When I look back, I think what saved me that day was that I was willing to think about what I was doing and adapt so we both got what we wanted.

That experience stayed with me and taught me a couple of things that is currently helping me in Korea. I recently had a conversation with a friend about a restaurant we both visited. We had two different experiences with the same waiter. She decided the poor service she received there was because the waitress was racist and was discriminating against her. We decided to go to lunch together and test out our theory about what was happening.

At lunch, I noticed there were other people of similar background as my friend. The waitress didn’t seem to have an issue with any of them. Was it because we were women and there was a male-female cultural difference at play? No. There were other women in the restaurant being served by the same waitress. It turns out the problem was simple. My friend had the habit of speaking too quickly and not letting the waitress digest what she said. When the waitress didn’t respond immediately my friend rolled her eyes and it created tension between her and the waitress. Once we figured what the real deal was my friend reported that her experience at that restaurant improved.

Of course, my friend was quick to point out that she was not the only one to annoy the waitress that day. My fault nowadays as a customer is being indecisive. I own that, and I know it is something I need to work on. I haven’t figured out a fail-safe solution for that, but here is what I do know will work to improve your customer experience while in Korea;
  • Slow down because not everyone can understand what you are saying at the speed you are saying it.
  • Your English is not everyone else’s English. Try more specific words or change your phrases a little. For example, "That's fine" could be said as "Yes." Use straight forward words that an ESL speaker would find clear and easy to understand.
  • Help people understand what you want by introducing a basic idea and then build on that by asking them to help you with the specific detail or service you want. Since servers here have often never lived in other countries, they are doing their best but might need help fully understanding what you are asking for or what you are expecting from them.
  • Get better service by researching what you want. Avoid impulsively buying something that you don’t know much about. Avoid putting strangers on the spot by making them guess what is "perfect" for you.  
Fast forward to Living in Korea. The problem and the solution I experienced in Texas seems to work here as well. At first look, I can tell that we all come from diverse backgrounds and cultures. We each have different ideas of what service is supposed to look like. What we seem to forget is that we expect to be served a certain way without understanding the impact of our own behavior as customers and how it relates to the local culture. Looking a little more closely we can see there is a lot more going on than a simple confusion over accents. They are as stressed and confused as we are.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you want to buy a car. You have done your research and you know the make and model you want to buy. Or actually, maybe you are buying on a whim and wander into the nearest dealership. Regardless you are ready to buy. You end up buying a car, convinced it is perfect for your needs. A week later you take a corner too fast and the wheels spin out uncontrollably, leading you to crash into a pole. You angrily take yourself back to the dealership demanding a refund. But they refuse. You are not happy with their response. You get in their face. You yell at them and tell them if they don’t make it right you are going to leave bad reviews for them.

Do you think this business is going to refund the car you destroyed through your own mishandling?

In short, if the customer is the reason a product is damaged, it is not the business’s responsibility to replace or refund it. It seems obvious when talking about cars but it can be less clear when using new products you've never used. You might think you used it correctly, but to those who know how to use it - you clearly didn't. This is a common part of culture shock for all of us.

Granted some places have a policy that out of goodwill they will replace or refund something with no questions ask. Sometimes a membership or an insurance fee is required to guarantee that kind of service for their customer. However, it should not be expected across the board. When we don't get think we get the response we came for, we need to stop and realize sometimes things just aren't how we were used to. In this case, it means acknowledging what we did to cause a product to fail and eating our humble pie. And living away from our hometowns has given me plenty of opportunities to have a piece of that pie!

On the other hand, we all have had a time when a product or service has disappointed us. If you are not happy with an item and it is in good condition-you might have some options. Generally, it is always best to check before buying to see what the policy is. However, if the business misconstrued what the product can do or sold you a faulty product knowingly, you have every right to ask for a refund or exchange. All things considered, if you are shopping with a reputable and legitimate business here is what you should say for the best results; Useful Phrases for Getting an Exchange or Refund.

Keep this in mind
  • Observe the type of customers that frequent the type of establishment you are visiting. You can tell a lot about what is normal or not normal service by taking the time to note this detail.
  • Understand you are not always the type of customer a Korean business builds their customer culture around. Many businesses in Pyeongtaek are not prepared to provide customer service for foreigners. At this businesses, you will have to follow local customs.
  • Do your best to negotiate politely. You will not always get what you came for. Know when it is time to walk away. Remember that pointing out people's failures usually gets you less and not more here. Approach things from the standpoint that you need help and not that you are blaming them. This gives them more ways to provide a quality experience.
  • It is okay to be firm in your request but also respect the place of business’s established policy. It is unreasonable to ask for things beyond the scope of a person's responsibilities. A store manager may be unable to give you what you want because it must answer to the policy of a Corporation.
  • Korea4Expats wrote an article about locating your local Korea Consumer Agency or other consumer organizations for consumer counseling. You will need receipts and contracts to help your case go smoothly.  
  • If you are unhappy with your service, make sure the establishment is aware of the problem. Be prepared to offer helpful suggestions in a non-aggressive manner. Sometimes the back end of the operation is not aware of what the front end service looks like.
Remember you are a representative of the country and the communities you came from. Every time you explode, you are in essence ‘losing face’ for everything you represent. I have watched customers who felt entitled to act like a bully get the deal they wanted. It leaves the impression that the fastest way to get what you want is to act aggressively. Over time it changes the attitudes and atmosphere towards the next bewildered customer. The reality is if I expect a quality business to give me good products and services, then they should get a high-quality customer who knows how to behave.

How you conduct yourself affects us all.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Useful Phrases for Getting an Exchange or Refund

Sometimes a product you purchased doesn't work out the way you want it to. Instead of getting frustrated, try some of these phrases to help you get an exchange or refund.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

SOS App Quick Tips: Transportation

The South of Seoul app is more than pretty pictures of food and fun things to do put together by some very dedicated volunteers. It is also embedded tons of information "easter eggs" that will make your life in Korea much easier. For example, our Transportation Hubs directories can be a huge help when you need them most.
  • Need to know what is the closest bus terminal to you? We can help with that.
  • Looking for a bus schedule? We can help with that.
  • Wondering which station the SRT leaves from? We can help with that.
  • Unsure of what subway stations are in Pyeongtaek? We can help with that as well.
  • Plus so much more.
Here is how they work. First, each area has it's own transportation directory: Asan, Cheonan, and Pyeongtaek. The directories have a pale blue background and come after the neighborhood directories. We will look at Pyeongtaek's today because that's where most of our readers live.

To find the Pyeongtaek Transportation Hubs in the South of Seoul app follow this path:
  • Food & Fun Directories 
  • Pyeongtaek
  • Pyeongtaek Transportation Hubs

If you are new in town and don't know where the closest transportation hub to your home is (i.e. bus terminal, subway station, train station) we have two important features that will help you feel more confident:
  • First, each Transportation hub listing is going to sort from the one closest to you to the furthest. If you look at where we circled you can see the distance the transportation is from you in miles. (This is how all the directories should sort.)
  • Second, if you click on the little map icon in the top right, it will open a screen that will show you as a little flashing dot and all the hubs compared to your location.

In addition to all this, we have started the process of uploading the bus schedules into the headers like you will see in the Anjung Bus Terminal. When you click on the image it can then be enlarged to focus on details. Sometimes it will take more that one image to show the entire schedule. In this case, swipe left to see more images. (You will see a little arrow in the banner image on the right if there is more than one piece of media embedded.)

The final useful tidbits we added are in the listings themselves where we list what types of transit options are available at the particular transit hub as well as important places located nearby. Please let us know if there is more we can add that will be helpful.

We know you will find this aspect of South of Seoul useful again and again. Good luck on your many adventures and let us know if there are other things we can add that will help make things in life easier. 

South of Seoul is a volunteer-managed app which can be downloaded from Google Play or the Apple App Store. We currently receive no funding and simply function off the love and passion for helping our community. We know things aren't always perfect, but we do our best with our limited time and funds. Every day we try to improve things a little bit more and a little bit more with the resources we do have. 

If you find the app helpful please you can pay it forward by reviewing restaurants and businesses around the city which helps make Pyeongtaek easier and more approachable for those that come next. Happy adventures!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Songtan & Seojeongri Recommendation: Y Dental

Business: Y Dental
Neighborhood: Songtan
In the South of Seoul App search: Y Dental

Sometimes we randomly get contacted by a business that finds us online. We don't always go check them out because we have jobs and lives to live, however, if the business seems to might offer something that our local community needs we go check them out. Since those of us that run and volunteer at South of Seoul do it for the community, karma, to battle boredom, and to keep our job skills relevant it takes something pretty important lure us into action.

Which brings us to the point of this blog. Recently a gem of a business, that meets a need in our community, found us and asked us to stop by and we accepted. Y Dental Clinic is new to the area this month and the dentist in charge speaks FLUENT English. That's right, we FINALLY have a dentist with a super cute, new dental clinic near Osan Air Force Base and Seojeongri! This is fabulous news for teachers AND air force families who have had to commute for their dental needs. Those days are over.

Daniel Yoon D.D.S. actually grew up in the US and English is his first language. Twenty years ago he moved to Korea (he is Korean) and has been living and working in the southern part of Korea. However, with Pyeongtaek booming he moved his clinic north and decided to open in a spot that was comfortable for both Koreans and Foreign clients. At South of Seoul we prefer businesses like this. Ones that serve both communities. It creates a more stable and reliable business.

Easy to miss from the outside because of how busy outside, the Y Clinic is beautiful inside (Be sure not to visit either of the dental clinics to the left or the right of Y Dental. It's easy to go in the wrong door). Everything is super new and the staff is very nice. There is even free wifi in the waiting room. It's quite lovely and relaxing. This matters to us. We want our dental visits to feel as stress-free as possible and waiting room snacks and Netlix can keep away the jitters.

Plus, when we said we weren't eating sugar and would be going for espresso after we stopped by (so we could have the energy for the going to Von Fitness, the new gym we are obsessed with in Seojeongri), Dr. Yoon made us coffee from beans he roasted himself. Mind blown! A kind dentist who roasts their own coffee, speaks fluent English, offers free wifi, and is only a short walk (or taxi) from Osan AF Base or Songtan Station is a find worth sharing.

Don't take our word for it though. Go check it out yourself. We have confidence you won't be disappointed. In fact, we have already loaded Y Dental into the app and we look forward to your reviews. If you go be SURE to review him because it helps the new people that arrive and Dr. Yoon. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

You can download the South of Seoul app from Google Play or the Apple App Store. We provide English language information on Pyeongtaek, Cheonan, and Asan.

NOTE FOR TRICARE USERS: They are currently working on getting Tricare setup but have not completed the process. They will work closely with you to help you submit the right kind of paperwork you need to file a claim yourself. Tri-care allows you to use any dentist when you are living outside the US.