Things To Expect From Your Korean Apartment
- It will be small (unless you have worked on a cruise ship, or lived in Hong Kong, in which case it’s huge).
- It will be dirty (chances are the previous person hasn’t cleaned for a while)
- Mould will grow (or in my case, had been growing for what seemed like years)
When I first arrived, due to some poor planning on my school’s part, my colleague and I had to share my apartment. Later the next day he was able to move into his own, but for the first night we slept bundled away from the mould.
Cleaning The Mould
I was assured by my school that someone would be by to clean the apartment, and sure enough someone was. They cleaned the floor in the laundry room. That was the only thing that was cleaned; a not-too-dirty floor in a room that I go in maybe twice a month. Figuring if you want something done, you’re going to need to do it yourself, I went out and bought cleaning supplies, and a makeshift hazmat suit.
I spent the next two weeks cleaning. It took four solid days of cleaning before I even felt comfortable being able to unpack in the apartment. Apparently the previous tenant had lived with his significant other, and hadn’t noticed the mould growing everywhere. The windowsill, collecting condensation, had been growing so long that it could only be described as “furry”. Some of the walls had been leaking, so mould was growing around electrical sockets, the bathroom ceiling had a few spots, but they wiped off nice, but the closet was by far the worst. It took me a solid three hours of holding my breath, and wiping down walls with bleach in a closed off space as my eyes and nose burned.
To ensure I wouldn’t go through a repeat of the Great Mould Battle of 2015, I went out and purchased a variety pack of chemical dehumidifiers (small boxes that suck the moisture out of the air) and installed them in various places in my apartment; there are 4 in my closet alone. I need to change them every so often, and be mindful of the moisture, but it keeps everything at bay.
Fixing The Walls
Once my cleaning was complete, I turned my eyes to the wallpaper. Ugly colours, terrible patterns, faded stains and peeling corners. I made the assumption that if the landlord had allowed the place to get so dirty, that they probably didn’t care too much what I put on the walls, so I went out and bought some of my own.
Wallpaper in Korea is surprisingly fun. It’s a stick-on ordeal, instead of the soak in water type of stuff we’ve got in Canada. With some cutting and pasting, I soon had up some nice white backdrop, a bright yellow feature wall, and some fake-brick for my kitchen. The whole thing, cleaning included probably costed me about 30-40 CAD, but to make this space liveable, it was a worthwhile investment.
I also later purchased a plant (named Spruce Willis), a light from Ikea, and a few other things to make my apartment a home.
Update: The Battle Continues…