If you are enrolled in a Korean language course and looking for accommodation in Korea, one of the cheapest and most straightforward solutions is the goshiwon. Also known as a mini-studio, the goshiwon is a small room that is very popular as a place to stay for students away from home.

In this article we explain what it’s like to live in a goshiwon in Korea, including the pros and cons of this type of accommodation.

What is a goshiwon?

A goshiwon (고시원) is a very small room that can range from 26 to 39 feet along, which sometimes includes the bathroom. This small space always includes: a bed, a small wardrobe or shelf for clothes and items, a desk and a chair. Depending on the goshiwon and the price of the room, you may also have a mini fridge, a television, a private bathroom and a window. Keep in mind that the bathroom is more like a walk-in shower, with a sink and toilet in the same space.

Those who want to save money can opt for solutions without a window and with a shared bathroom. However, as the price difference between the two options is not that big, we recommend choosing a room that includes these facilities, especially if you intend to stay for an extended period of time.

In addition to this, each goshiwon also has communal facilities: a kitchen with a cooker and microwave oven, a refrigerator and dishes, a washing machine with laundry detergent and a hanging area.

The cost of the room ranges from 350,000 won per month for the cheapest solutions (usually without a window) to 600,000 won for the largest and most comfortable rooms (so about $600 per month). This includes utility bills and some free appetizers such as rice and kimchi, and sometimes even ramen. In the more well-stocked goshiwon you can also get bread, eggs, butter, jam and coffee, but these are rare.

Each goshiwon also always has a manager to refer to. The manager of the goshiwon is in charge of receiving the monthly rent for the room and the supply of consumables. He or she is also the person to contact in case of problems or needs. In some goshiwon managers are present 24 hours a day, while in others they are only present at certain times. In any case, after moving in, you will always receive the phone number of the manager so that you can contact him/her in case of any problems.

Pros e cons

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about living in a goshiwon is the problem of size. Many people think that living in a goshiwon is uncomfortable because the rooms are small, and there is not much space to put clothes and personal items. While this may be true, we would like to point out that other accommodations are not much bigger either, especially if you choose to live in a metropolis like Seoul. For example, a dormitory room is larger than a goshiwon room, but in some universities you have to share it with someone else, which can be a burden in the long run.

Unlike the dormitory, there is no curfew time at the goshiwon, so you have more freedom to come home at night without having to worry about disturbing your housemate/roommate.

In a shared house, the rooms are a little bigger than in a goshiwon, but you cannot have a private bathroom, since the shared space is the bathroom. To find out more, read our article on share houses in Korea.

Obviously, the preference for one or the other choice depends on personal preference: if you prefer to have more privacy and are not afraid of tight spaces we recommend a room in a goshiwon, but if you hate being alone and prefer to share your experience in Korea with other people, the perfect solution for you is the share house. If studying is your priority and curfew is not an issue, we recommend a room in the university dormitory.

To sum up, the advantages of living in a goshiwon are: more privacy, the possibility of having a private bathroom, and no curfew time. Disadvantages: The room is very small in size. We recommend that you ask for a room with a window, as it can be claustrophobic without one, and   avoid using the crockery in the communal kitchen and buy your own from Daiso.

We hope this article has been useful to you and remember not to hesitate to contact us about living and studying in Korea.

For more information on living and studying in Korea, keep following the Go! Go! Hanguk blog.