Why Korea Feels Colder than Canada

In general, I like cold. I grew up in Newfoundland, in northeastern Canada, where the daytime temperature during the winter is around -10 Celsius, dropping down to about -20 at night. At times, it can get down to around -40. It’s no fun waiting for the school bus in that, let me tell you.

In Newfoundland, we call this May. [Source]

In Newfoundland, we call this May. [Photo]

In Korea, it’s not nearly as cold. Wikipedia shows the average temperature in January to be between 4 and -6 degrees. Cold, but not crazy cold. Houses here are heated by a system of under floor heating called ondol. It’s wonderful to walk around on, or just lie on, although you have to remember not to leave any chocolate or meltables on the floor.

Public buildings, including schools, however, are not heated that way. Some are not heated at all. Many small schools use nothing but space heaters to heat the classrooms. The students and teachers both where their coats all day long.

The bathrooms also are not heated and most don’t have hot water. Also, the hallways aren’t heated and usually the doors of the school are open all day long.

Korean school door

This is the front door of my main school. Most schools keep their doors open like this all year long.

Why on earth would you keep the door open all day in winter? It’s not masochism, I swear. The reason is ventilation. Koreans love ventilation more than heat, it seems. I had a class once in the library, which was in the back building and didn’t get any sunlight anyway. The principal would come in in the mornings and open all the windows in the middle of winter. It took about 3 hours to get it back to a liveable temperature.

When I was growing up, I never really felt cold, unless I was outside for hours and hours and my gloves got wet. But in Korea, I’m cold most of the day in the winter. I used to like winter a lot more too. I realized that cold is only fun if you can get warm afterwards. Nobody wants to go from cold outside to cold inside. And that is why Korea feels colder than Canada.

(P.S. One unexpected thing that Korea does have a lot of is heated toilet seats. That at least mitigates things a bit when you have to wash your hands with cold water.)

About David Stewart

I am a writer of anything quirky and weird. I love most genres of fiction and in each there are stories that I would consider "my kind of story". View all posts by David Stewart

16 responses to “Why Korea Feels Colder than Canada

  • Michelle Proulx

    You know what, now that I think about it, I did feel really cold in Korea all the time. I think part of that was I couldn’t figure out how to work the heating in my apartment, so it was really chilly when I got back from work, and I had to wait about an hour for the floor heating to get the temperature up to a decent level.

  • Eric Alagan

    Thank goodness for the heated toilet seat.

    During my first trip ever to UK in 1981, I arrived during winter and checked into a small B&B in Cheltenham. I recall my first trip to the toilet – Yeow! – I literally jumped up. Coming from all-year-round-sunny Singapore, that was a shock!

  • arjun bagga

    That’s me. I feel breathless in a closed room but that temperature, I’m not sure if I want to find out even. I’m sure though kids and colleagues in your school enjoyed reading this piece of writing if you let them. I did.

  • sharmishtha basu

    hmm, I too open all the windows and doors in the morning in this house, because its only exit is safe enough- and keeping it locked does not stops wind, sunshine 🙂

    and I hated waiting for school bus in delhi during winter months ha ha

  • Kim

    Very interesting stuff David….it’s nice to learn about cultural differences.

  • Holistic Wayfarer

    David, would you be interested in participating in the Race? Info on my front page. I’d be happy to share my podium with you and promote your blog.


    • David Stewart

      Thanks for the invitation. It sounds very interesting. I will email you my answers within a day or so.

      • Holistic Wayfarer

        Good. Please try to be as succinct as you can, esp on the ques that don’t require much elaboration. Think about why my readers will want to keep reading. It’s a deep, thoughtful group you’re introducing yourself to. =) And be honest, esp about Koreans! I’d be curious to see how your feelings pan out with mine. Hope you enjoy the process.


  • Logan

    The truth is, Korea has the worst WEATHER in this world. The weather here is never predictable, it can feel like summer one day, then feel like winter the next. A lot of people think that weather in korea is very similar to the weather in america but I disagree. Korea has no spring or autumn, they only last couple of weeks. It’s either HOT,COLD, or WINDY, there’s no other.

Let me know what you think. I appreciate all comments and criticisms.

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