February 1, 2023

Brazilians talk about what it feels like to live in a small 3 square meter apartment in Korea

27-year-old singer-influencer Taise Midori’s first contact with South Korea was 16 years ago with kpop-style bands.

At the age of 20, he found out that he could go on an exchange program to the state and study the language. Since then, he has been traveling to Korean soil every year, always with the aim of exploring culture. The first time he stayed for six months, and then returned during the January-July vacation.

When I got there, I realized that accommodation is expensive – and one way to save money is to stay in the flats known as Gocheonwhich is only about five square meters, sometimes three square meters.

“There are everywhere, on every corner,” he told BBC News Brasil. “They are small buildings and each floor has several apartments.”

Most of the time when I went to study in the country, she chose to sleep in this type of accommodation. “In a cheap hotel, 17 days, for example, you spend R$3,500,” he says. The cost of renting this type of accommodation is, on average, R$1,900 per month, according to her.

Like Thais, influencer and masters student Amanda Gomez, 30, from Ciara, is also passionate about oriental culture. With a scholarship she got in college, she traveled to South Korea and lived there for a year.

Upon his return to Brazil, he decided to return to Seoul and spend more time there. For this, he made a financial plan for a year and went to study Korean.

However, accommodations were beyond her budget and she also turned to A.J Gocheon. “I lived on the lifeline and this housing is very cheap here,” says she, who has lived in Korea for four years.

What is Jocheon?

goshiwons They are small houses and are much more affordable than traditional Korean apartments. They are designed for students who want to spend a lot of time preparing for public tenders, who will use the residence only for sleeping, or for seniors who live alone and cannot afford more expensive rents.

When a tenant chooses to live in one of these, they can choose apartments with a window, without a window, with a private or shared bathroom. Kitchens and washrooms are communal, and some floors are for men and women.

Depending on the apartment, the bathroom can be en-suite or shared.

Photo: Jamaluddin Tarakhan

In this goshiwon, the bed is attached to the bathroom door - GAMALELDIN TARAKHAN - GAMALELDIN TARAKHAN

In this goshiwon, the bed is attached to the bathroom door

Photo: Jamaluddin Tarakhan

A desk and a minibar complete the apartment's furnishings - Jamal ad-Din Tarakhan - Jamal Ad-Din Tarakhan

A desk and a minibar complete the apartment’s furnishings.

Photo: Jamaluddin Tarakhan

the Gocheon The Amanda, the cheapest model, had a bed, a door like a dresser, and a table and chair. “My height is 1.68, the bed was smaller than me, my little feet remained. The clothes were (hanging) on ​​top of me and I had to lie down, because if I sat down, I would hit my head on the pieces,” he recalls, laughing. Amanda says if she stretches out her arms, she can touch both walls.

“I didn’t have air conditioning, but a heater. So I had a fan. Once I had a fever, I asked to be moved to a room with a window for better ventilation,” recalls the woman from Ciara.

The room for the Thais was slightly larger, with an en-suite bathroom, bed and desk. “I always take it with the bathroom,” he says. “It’s normal that I pee every time I go to the shower.”

According to Brazilians, the biggest advantage of this house is the exemption from “rental rent” and a one-year contract. Unlike other Korean housing that requires a down payment, a person only needs money to pay the rent.

Housing is an alternative for those who do not have a lot of financial resources, however, and would like to live in the capital, Seoul, and in other Korean cities, according to them.


Given the price, there are not many perks in accommodations like this. The cheaper it is, the less facilities there are in the apartment. There are places where, even with a window, the opening faces the driveway and the tenant will never see the street.

“I really don’t see anyone living there because they want to live there, but for financial reasons. At that time, I was quiet and had no financial circumstances. God willing, I won’t live there anymore, because it’s uncomfortable, you hear everything and there’s no privacy.” .You can hear people talking and fighting,” says Amanda.

According to Thais, the biggest problem in his country Gocheon It was air circulation. In these apartments, who controls the air conditioning and heating, according to her, are the owners of the property, which makes it difficult to adjust the appliances if a person feels too cold or too hot.

“I couldn’t take a hot shower even in the winter because the room was so humid. Even if I opened the window, there was no wind. The air doesn’t come out.”

The kitchen and laundry are communal in this type of dwelling - Jamal ad-Din Tarakhan - Jamal ad-Din Tarakhan

The kitchen and laundry are common to this type of dwelling.

Photo: Jamaluddin Tarakhan

She remembers that she asked to run the air conditioner for a longer time and the owner provided a fan. Thais say: “In the summer it is very hot. There was a neighbor in Manaus who could not believe it. It is hot air that surrounds you all the time. In the cold, I had an electric blanket.”

Regarding the kitchens, some would prefer the “pampering” offered by the owners goshiwons. On site, there are always noodles and rice for the locals. Thais say, “There were days when I would eat ramen noodles and rice. There would always be rice ready in the pot, bags of ramen noodles to make, and kimchi (fermented chard)”.

Brazilians claim that these accommodations are reasonably priced for living in the country. Real estate prices are often exorbitant and it is often better to choose Gocheon And saving money during their stay in South Korea, in their opinion.

“For those who want to travel and spend a long time, like 60 or 90 days, it can be a good alternative,” says Amanda.

Amanda Gomez in her goshiwon - Personal Archive - Personal Archive

Amanda Gomez in her dress

Photo: personal archive

Never rent without visiting.

It is very common to see banners advertising in neighborhoods goshiwonsIn addition to getting referrals from friends, according to the interviewees. There are also websites that offer this type of real estate.

However, there are places that can run into problems with mold, for example, according to reports. Therefore, Brazilians say that it is important to visit the place of residence before entering into any contract.

It is also common to find these tiny apartments on hosting sites, such as Airbnb, for long or short stays. The monthly fee for the app, for example, can cost $700 USD (about R$3,500). “You have application protection, because when you deal directly with a Korean it’s much more difficult,” say the Thais.

And Brazilians warn that there are cases of finding hair in the bathroom, a sheet that has not been thoroughly cleaned and even someone else’s.

And they say you need to go in with an open mind, because the experience can be downright stifling, according to Brazilians.

They recommend having a little korean or going with someone who knows the language, as many of the owners are elderly and don’t speak english or another language.

Larger “flats”.

Another popular housing option is apartments that are smaller than traditional apartments, but are slightly larger than those of five or three square metres.

They are called one room (single-chamber) – similar to the traditional number in Brazil. Some of them can be as large as 10 or 16 square meters. For these villas, a one-year contract with a deposit is required.

“Humans adapt to situations. The issue of space doesn’t bother me so much anymore,” says Amanda, who currently lives in one of these spaces and will soon move into a two-bedroom apartment.

Although it is more expensive than goshiwons, it can also be an alternative for those who have little money, but still can’t afford a one or two bedroom apartment. “These are old apartments and sometimes you need a $1,000 deposit,” says the influencer.

Currently, the cearense woman is creating online content about Korea and studying a master’s degree in tourism and history, as well as working with agencies associated with UNESCO. She does not intend to return to Brazil. “I work with cultural and tourism content, and I am currently working to help Brazilians who want to travel or study in the country,” he says. Thais also have their own channels on social networks, where they share their curiosities about the Korean lands.

– This text was published in https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/internacional-62907288