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LifestyleGuide for Expats
Shingugan, Jeju's moving seasonBoth gods and island residents relocate at this time of the new year
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승인 2013.01.22  16:45:44
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▲ Photo courtesy Jeju City

Jeju tradition dictates that moving house is not quite as straightforward as elsewhere in Korea. Known as “Shingugan,” Jeju’s moving season - a period of change between old and new - signifies when moving house is spiritually most expedient.

As a shamanistic society, Jeju people traditionally defer to the guidance of the gods when making life choices. At Shingugan, three days before “Ipchun” and five days after “Daehan,” the 18,000 gods that watch over Jeju are momentarily whisked away from terra firma to report to the Great Jade Emperor, where they are replaced with new gods for the coming year.

This year’s Shingugan falls between Jan. 20 and Feb. 4 (2014) and as the heavens undergo a changing of the guard, the Jeju people are free to up sticks and relocate, without fear of upsetting the spiritual apple cart.

While the concept may seem novel, folk beliefs are used by all cultures to preserve folk wisdom. According to a Jeju National University professor, Jeju’s unique cultural restriction might actually represent a rational response to combating infection and disease.

Professor Yoon Yong Taek suggests that Shingugan, being at the coldest time of year, exposes movers to minimal infectious pathogens, particularly in yester-year, when people and livestock lived - and moved - in close proximity. The taboo against moving in hotter and stickier months, therefore, seems to preserve this knowledge within an indigenous cultural narrative.

While slowly waning, observance of Shingugan remains strong and the bulk of relocations on the island still happen around this time, with moving cheaper and more convenient. Individuals daring to move outside of this season are said to be susceptible to sickness and ill-fortune, as per Yoon’s meme theory. Erring on the side of caution, The Weekly provides a movers’ guide below to ensure minimal celestial disruption.

▲ A common sight at Shingugan, a mechanical lift accesses a third floor apartment Photo courtesy Jeju City

Finding a property
There are many ways to find housing on Jeju, but most movers either use real estate agencies, or classified listings.

Real estate agencies
Real estate agents, or “budongsan,” are common throughout the island; however, services are rarely provided in English. Available properties are displayed in the agents’ windows and online. The agents will inform you of the documents required for signing a contract and give help in obtaining them. A fee is charged by percentage and is set by the regional government.
For further inquiries:
Korea Association of Realtors, Jeju Chapter. (064) 744 1880

Classified listings
Classified listings are also limited to Korean and can be found online and in published free listings newspapers. These are free outside of convenience stores and public areas and contain extensive classified sections, which are also available online. The two most popular are the Jeju O-il Jang Shinmun and the Kyocharo.
Jeju O-il Jang Shinmun:
Kyocharo: dex.php

Social networking
The language barrier necessitates help from a Korean speaker for most of the resources given so far, but one area is more accessible to English speakers - the internet. International residents commonly post requests about available properties or ask for advice from fellow expats online and two useful sites are:
Rhymes with Jeju (Yahoo ID required)
Facebook: “Jeju Island Social

Removal companies
Removal companies (“isajim senteo”) provide two basic services: a full service (“pojang isa”) and a general service (“pojang ilban”). The full service involves everything from transportation to cleaning and setting up your furniture, while the general service simply trans-ports your belongings to your new accommodation. Removal companies get extremely busy during Shingugan and must be reserved in advance. They can be found in the classified sections of both the Jeju O-il Jang Shinmun and the Kyocharo.

Be quick!
Competition is intense during Shingu-gan and properties are snapped up quickly. Be prepared to check classified listings and estate agencies daily and inspect properties as soon as they become available to avoid disappointment. Be aware that you will be expected to pay a holding deposit on the spot to reserve a property which is around 10 percent of the total deposit.

Ensure your contract is with the property owner
If finding a property independently, ensure the contract is with the actual owner of the property. For a fee of 3,000 Won you can receive a copy of the real estate registry for any given property from the website of the civil registry at

Register at your local government office
After moving into a property, it is very important to register at the local government office (“dong samuso”) and receive a ‘Definite Moving Date’ (“hwakjeong ilja”) certificate. This will ensure, in the event of landlord bankruptcy, for example, you are able to claim preferential payback of your deposit.

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