First, the good news – almost all Korean road signs are dual-language, spelling the Korean hangeul out in Roman characters. The bad news is that there are very few street signs – most streets don’t even have names. Instead, addresses point to a numbered section of a dong (city district), which until recently were doled out in chronological order when the buildings were made. In 2010 the Korean government slapped new road signs all over the country, with addresses listed by their position on a road rather than their relative age, but it’ll be a while before these new addresses find common use.

As you can imagine, this patchwork system leads to all sorts of problems; it’s common for hotels and restaurants to include a small map on their business cards. The local tourist office may be able to contact hotels and get them to fax you through a map, or you could take your chances in a taxi. Drivers will know the location of each city dong, but not necessarily the exact road or address, so don’t worry if they pull in at a police station – it’s quite common for cabbies to consult police maps for exact directions.

Despite the general confusion, addresses fit into a very rigid system; unlike the Western world, components are usually listed from largest to smallest when writing an address. The country is split into nine 도 – do, or provinces. In these you’ll find cities (시; – si, pronounced shee), towns (읍; – eup) and villages (리; – ri or – li), with the larger cities split into a number of 구 – gu, or wards. The number of – gu will vary with the city’s size – Seoul, for example, has 25 such sections – and these are further subdivided into 동 – dong districts. Large roads are signified by a 로 (– no, – ro or – lo) suffix, with the very meatiest divided into numbered 가 – ga sections. Smaller roads come with a 길 – gil suffix; anything else will be a number in its local – dong city section, which is itself part of a larger – gu. Therefore Tapgol Park in Seoul-si sits at the end of Insadonggil in Insadong, part of Jongnogu, at the confluence of Samillo and Jongno 2-ga. Happy hunting!

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

South Korea features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

10 top places to eat Korean food

10 top places to eat Korean food

Korean cuisine is world-famous – and with good reason.  It's this wonderful food that keeps dragging our author Martin Zatko back to Korea. Here he rounds…

09 Feb 2018 • Martin Zatko insert_drive_file Article
Rediscovering South Korea: why the time to go is now

Rediscovering South Korea: why the time to go is now

It’s a beautiful, culturally and economically wealthy country with much to see and explore – but South Korea is often viewed as off-limits thanks to its ira…

07 Feb 2018 • Matilda Battersby insert_drive_file Article
Video: the 1 minute guide to South Korea

Video: the 1 minute guide to South Korea

Though it may appear deceivingly small compared to some of its gargantuan Asian neighbours, South Korea is packed full of unforgettable things to do. While …

02 Feb 2018 • Colt St. George videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs