Living in Changwon: The Three Cities
This guest post is by Scott Scott McFarlane, an EFL teacher living in Changwon and the founder of The Changwoner.
I’ve been living in Changwon for the past 15 years. I’ve lived in Jinhae for a year, Changwon City for 8 years, and the rest in Masan. With the combination of the three cities, forming the new and one Changwon, there might be a few of you that have a few questions or confusion. Before I get into what I think about the merge of the three cities, let me tell you about each city in particular.
I lived in Jinhae around the period of 2002 to 2003. Obviously a lot has changed there since that time. I have not really visited back to Jinhae since that time, other than the Cherry Blossom festival a few times. It’s not because I have any dislike for Jinhae. I actually really enjoyed my time that I did spend there. I worked at a ship building company called STX and also at the Korean navy base, and really enjoyed both jobs.
Jinhae is the smaller of the three cities. Therefore, making it the more quiet of the three as well. This can be a good thing in terms of traffic, noise, being crowded, and overall pollution. You are more likely to be closer to the sea living in Jinhae and if you’re looking for a more of a country side style of living, this could be the place for you. Even though it’s been a while since I visited there, I am still in touch with people that live there. Over the years, Jinhae has improved and developed, especially with their shopping experience adding a larger range of department stores since I lived there.
Every year, usually the first week of April, Jinhae hosts the Cherry Blossom festival as I mentioned before. The cherry trees around the area are beautiful. During that week, crowds gather from all over Korea to take part in the festival. This makes getting around Jinhae quite difficult and does create a lot of traffic. I found Jinhae to be a beautiful place, at least where I lived. If you are looking for a more quiet, country side living, near a sea with a lot of great seafood restaurants, smaller, less populated and polluted type of environment, than Jinhae could be the place for you. Changwon City is not that far away for those times you want to spend a more social weekend out with a lot of buses running to Changwon and taxis not being that expensive for your trip.
I really did enjoy my time in Jinhae as I tend to like smaller cities more than the bigger ones. I am not there now just to the fact that I am always busy here and need to be closer to heart of Changwon (which I’ll get into soon) . You can meet a lot of great people in Jinhae and if you have any questions about schools or the city itself, the Jinhae Expats face book group is a great place to ask: https://www.facebook.com/groups/2340080883/
Masan is by far the older and more industrialized of the three cities. That may sound bad to some, but it is different than it may seem. Although there are more factories in Masan, it is the more traditional area of the three cities. Masan is ‘OLD SCHOOL’. You can tell the difference with the people just by going to Home Plus (like a COSCO or Wal-Mart) in Changwon City and the Home Plus in Masan. At the Changwon Home Plus, people still tend to get dressed up to go shopping and shop in a more organized/keep to-your-self/ quiet way. They are there to get what they need and go. In the Masan Home Plus, people tend to go in their flip-flops, even at times looking like they just got out of bed, and are walking around in a scattered way, not really knowing what they want, but even eye shopping or just hanging out. It’s as if the people of Masan seem tougher, hard-core, and a bit of a lower class. I do not think these are negative characteristics, as you can also look at it as the people are hard working and down-to-earth people.
Masan, being the older of the three cities, also tends to have the older look when it comes to buildings, surroundings, and areas. There are many areas of Masan that you can still get that feel to how Korea may have been 30 to 40 years ago. Even some of the styles of housing are very old and more traditional. Masan has a couple areas deemed to be the social hangouts. Hapsangdong, which is closer to the Changwon/Masan border, and Daekori or the University area in Masan. Both tend to be more of a younger crowd and you won’t see as many foreigners in these areas in comparison to the social areas in Changwon City. Masan has its local foreigner bar or hangout near the University area called Masan Jazz ( All That Jazz) which has been around for numerous years. It has a great staff and owners who are very friendly and put on live music events when they can.
Bottom line, if you are looking to come to Korea and would like to experience more of the Korean culture than be involved as much with the western culture, than Masan may be the place for you. Masan is where I currently live and spent many years here.
Have questions? Here is the Masan Expats FB group page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MasanExpats/
Changwon is the newer of the three cities. It is the more modern and was a planned city. Being a planned city really means that it was laid out with some thought behind it and easier to find your way around as it’s a more grid like style. This is in contrast to say Masan where the original city was there and things were built around existing things and grew from there. A lot of Masan was around before the public owned cars and you can see that with all the narrow, small side streets and the lack of parking. Changwon streets are wider, easier to locate, and it seems as though there are a lot less cars jammed up on the shoulders of the streets (and even the sidewalks). The buildings are newer and more modern and Changwon also offers more of the western franchises when it comes to food and shopping.
There is also a larger foreigner population in Changwon City and it is not uncommon to see a foreigner these days where ever you go. The nightlife is also the stronger of the three cities, again with the foreigner community, with places in Jungangdong like The IP (International Pub) and O’Briens Irish Bar. Both of these establishments have been around a long time with The IP being the oldest foreigner bar in all three of the cities.
Changwon City is fast growing and always changing. If you are looking for a modern city life with a lot of things to do and always on the go, then living in Changwon may be the place for you.
To find more answers on Changwon and all the cities mentioned above, you can visit the Changwon FB group page here:
In general, the three cities are now considered to be one known as Changwon. However, if you ask locals, the majority still consider them to be separate. Schools and job offers like being able to post their job openings as Changwon, even if the job is located in Jinhae or Masan. This is fine and technically true, just keep in mind, it all depends on what you are looking for. If you don’t know the exact location of a job you are interested in, just ask. Find out if the job is Masan, Jinhae, or Changwon City. If you are a social bug, like big cities, and want to have the option of submersing yourself in a western style culture with more of the touches of back home, Changwon City is the choice for you.
Living in Changwon
If you would like to experience more of the Korean culture, maybe not going out as often, and looking to save more money, Masan and Jinhae might be the better options. Either way, it is always good to find out exactly the location of your job offer and ask questions in any of the FB group pages listed above. People are always great and friendly in those FB groups and will reply to your enquiries.Another great site to find some useful information is Changwonderful. They offer a lot of information on specific areas of all three cities as well as some other useful information.
Bottom line, I myself do not think of Changwon as a combination of the three cities and don’t know if I ever will. This is mostly due to living in Changwon for so long before they combined into one. The Changwon area in whole is a great place with a strong and close foreign community and regardless of your choice, the one thing you can count on is that you will be welcomed here and have the opportunity of being part of a great community.
If you’d like to find out more about living in Changwon, events, and nightlife, you can visit my website at The Changwoner.
We also do a weekly podcast for people living in Changwon that will be starting back up this April. You can find some of the past episodes here: http://www.changwoner.com/recentpodcasts as well as on iTunes, Stitcher, and other media players
And, we do a monthly Global Cultural Market each month for everyone living in Changwon, which is great for meeting people, finding great products and help raising funds for great local causes.
If you’d like to get in contact with myself, just send me a PM from our FB Page at the Changwoner or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org