Must-Have Items for Korean Winter

5 Must-Have Items for Korean Winter

Korean winter is famous for harsh temperatures, which can go as low as -20°C between December and March. As a Senegal native, these are numbers that scare me! After a few years of experiencing the Korean winter, I have a few tips for you! If it is your first winter in Korea, some items will make your life much easier! Heating devices and clothing will do the trick, and they are easier to find than you think! Here are five must-have items for winter in Korea!

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Electric blankets

Korean winters can have temperatures drop significantly, and even with the heat on, it can be helpful to have a blanket that provides a warm air layer to the body. That way, you are not affected by outside temperatures while you sleep. Another great point is that if you spend the day at work and don’t want to keep the (expensive) heat on all day, the electric blanket can help you stay warm while your apartment is heating up after you come home.

Electric blankets at Coupang
Source: Electric blankets at Coupang

Microfiber double-sided portable blankets are some of the most popular. They warm up in 15 seconds when turned on. Some can deliver the heat of up to 55 degrees Celsius by heating on both sides!

Best sellers have a heating method that generates warmth at the surface rather than through a heating wire, occupying 75% of the total area.

Regarding safety, it is recommended to be wary of hot wires. They can reach high temperatures, presenting a fire risk if not monitored. Some electric blankets have a feature that automatically cuts off the connection in case of the material’s contraction or expansion. Prevention sensors automatically power off in case of high temperature or when the blanket seems to have been used for an extended period.

I recommend suede and microfiber fabrics for winter as cold as Korea’s. They not only look luxurious, but they are also soft and comfortable. Brand names do not matter as long as the item has good durability and is convenient to manage. For affordable prices, visit Coupang or Gmarket for the best deals!

Electric blankets at Coupang
Source: Coupang

Hot Packs

“Hot Packs” are disposable hand warmers. Initially a necessity for outdoor workers in winter, they have also become popular among the general public.

Hot Pack Product at Coupang
Source: Hot Pack Product at Coupang

Hot Packs are made of iron powder and a catalyst in a pouch. When you shake them, the iron is mixed with the catalyst and oxidized to generate heat! You can carry those in your pocket or attach them to clothing due to their compact size. Some people even place them in their shoes!

Many make the mistake of shaking them too hard. If you do so, the chemical reaction might happen too fast and make the pack too hot to touch. Instead, gently rub it for a few seconds and let it heat up. It will last twice as long!

hot pack korean winter
Source: hancinema

A good tip is to store the hot pack in a zipped pocket while leaving said pocket very slightly open for air. It can cool down if there is no air, so let it breathe! It will provide comfortable warmth for your hands and body!

You can purchase hot packs in bulk on Coupang or Gmarket and keep them for the harsh winter days!

Fun fact: you can find thermal eye patches in the cosmetic store Olive Young! They mimic the principle of hot packs, although they are shaped like regular eye patches. With the heating element, the temperature rises to about 40 degrees. What a lovely way to protect your skin!

Water Heated Mattresses

Popular since the 2010s, this heating device circulates electrically heated hot water into the mattress through pipes. Usually placed on a bed or the floor, it has the same role as an electric mat but with less risk of court circuits. It also emits fewer electromagnetic waves and has become a staple in Korean homes. This can be a great addition to your bed if an electric blanket is too much.

Water Heated Mattress at Coupang
Source: Water-Heated Mattress at Coupang

A few drawbacks include the emission of a slight noise and possible leaks in case of poor management. The temperature also takes some time to increase, so it is good to turn it on early before you use it.

Water-heated mattresses are pricey compared to blankets. However, they can represent a good investment. Also, you should drain the water at the end of winter to prevent any issues (such as clogging).

I recommend the “motor circulation system” type of water-heated mattresses. They also use a boiler but distribute heat faster and more evenly. The motor operates only after the water is heated: they, therefore, consume less power, and the noise is not intrusive.

Water-heated mattresses that use the Peltier method (hot and cold water mat with a semiconductor) are also popular as air-conditioning is possible. They consume less and do not require you to drain water. The drawback is that the heat is not as efficient and even as the motor circulation system.

It is recommended to check the precautions before use for optimal results.

All in all, heating devices can help cut heating bills, especially when you do not spend much time at home and work outside. They can provide a quick fix during the coldest days so that you can enjoy a good night’s sleep at any temperature!

You can find water-heated mattresses at Coupang and Gmarket.

Padded Jackets

If you know anything about Korea or have watched Korean content that features the winter, you have seen these before!

Widely used from late fall to early spring, these cotton-padded jumpers and long coats are significantly embedded in Korean fashion due to their warmth. They are great in that even though they are very lightweight, they are still extremely warm, so you do not have to wear that many layers underneath them.

padded coat korean winter
Source: Coupang

In Korean, these jackets are referred to as “padding,” which is Konglish (Korean-English). If you search for ‘padding jackets’ on Google, you will mostly find Korean brands. People also call them puffers.

There are many versions: the “long paddings” are long padded coats that go down to the calves (or even ankles) and will have you covered up as if you were in a blanket. You can also find sleeveless, vest-shaped padded jackets. They are thinner than most, as they usually go under heavier blazers, and many office workers wear them for their streamlined style. They are also mostly worn in the Fall under a coat.

I highly recommend these “paddings,” as the temperatures can drop at a level that regular coats might not be able to support. This can be an issue if you are not used to harsh winters.

There are countless brands and collections, so I suggest starting your search on Coupang or Gmarket for affordable options. Higher quality (perhaps more expensive) options include the North Face or National Geographic. Overall, prices can be as low as $30 and as high as $200!

korean padding jacket
Source: Coupang

Fleece-lined leggings and thighs

During Korean winter, wearing anything other than padded coats and jogging pants becomes difficult. Due to the harsh temperatures, it is almost impossible to uncover any part of the body. But if you still want to dress up in something other than oversized clothes, this item might be for you!

korean fleece leggings
Source: Coupang

Fleece-lined tights look like regular opaque tights with flesh-colored options. However, they also have soft wool on the inside, making them much warmer than other leggings or items of that nature.

With some nude options, you can find something stylish and wear elegant clothing without exposing your legs to the cold. And because they are still thin enough, you can wear them under jeans or high boots.

Now that you’ve got your must-have list, you should be ready to face the Korean winter and all the great things it offers! Good luck, and stay warm!

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