4 Essentials to Survive Korea’s Freezing Winters


1. Long Underwear or “HeatTech”

Long underwear that’s been spun with modern fibers that trap heat yet are skin-thin have been a staple for years. Some people will refer to them as ‘HeatTech’ which is the brand name of Uniqlo’s line of thermal undergarments. Throughout the year I resent having them take up space in my drawers. But when -17 degree Celsius rolls around, I am singing Hallelujah.

2. Padded Jacket (Long or Short)

The trend this year is to buy a short padded jacket that ends around your waist. But I will continue to wear my long padded coat. And I’ll even sport the arctic white color that was super trendy 2-3 years ago but has now faded from street fashion. By adding sleeves and a zipper to a down comforter, clothing companies have made it acceptable to walk around with a blanket over your body all day.

Koreans will refer to the long padded coat as “long coat padding”. Yes, they reversed the noun and adjective and converted it into adjective + noun + noun. Rest assured, they don’t mean they’ll be wearing the stuffing of the jacket only. On another note, weren’t these originally called bench coats? I think they were worn by athletes who had to sit on the sideline benches during a game so that they could keep their bodies warm.

3. Hot Packs (Hand Warmers)

In California, I only saw these disposable hand warmers on the ski slopes. But here in Korea, you’re dressing for ski season every day during the winter. Koreans refer to them as “hot packs” (핫팩). Load up on these hot packs since they die every few hours.

4. Ear Muffs or Ear-Protecting Hats

When the wind picks up, ear protection really makes or breaks your day depending on whether you have them handy. These days I’m a fan of the behind the ears ear muffs because they’re compact and easy to put in a backpack.


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