No, this isn’t a door to Narnia, although what you’re about to find behind the door is just as unbelievable! A gosiwon (고시원) is a closet-sized apartment, and very common throughout Korea. Originally meant to be rooms used by working adults, they are now fairly popular among college students. Gositel (고시텔) is the building itself while gosiwons are simply the rooms, and they can be found near college areas or popular cities such as Seoul.
These closet-sized rooms became a thing more than forty years ago. What started as a cheap and temporary way to accommodate students who were cramming for important exams, such as state and bar exams, has become a lifesaver for many others. As the pricing of living increases every year, many have found it a lot cheaper to rent out one of these rooms instead of looking for apartments or houses. Although they might be a little cramped, the price you pay justifies the space.
Similar to a hotel, the size of the room will depend on how much you’re willing to spend. Typically, a basic and cheap goshiwon will only have space for a small bed, desk, chair and cupboard. However, if you spend a little extra money, you might find some rooms that include a personal restroom instead of the usual community bathroom. Some, if not all, also have a communal kitchen in which you can always find free kimchi and rice, and sometimes if you’re lucky, they might even have free ramen and eggs for your stay there.
The cheapest room one can find will usually go around for 200,000- 250,000 won (about $200- $250 USD) a month. A price you really can’t find anywhere else! A lot of these “hotels” will also offer high-speed internet, and since the rooms are usually occupied by students, it tends to be a lifesaver when it comes to doing homework or studying. However, if you’re looking for something with a little more flair, some rooms will sometimes include a small TV and a mini refrigerator for a higher price.
This is perfect housing for college students, backpackers or those who are travelling from out of town and need a place to stay for a cheap! Are you interested in staying a couple of nights in these closet-sized apartments?? Let us know in the comments below!
Written by Briseida Rivera