Thursday, May 24, 2012

새주소 Vs. 원래 주소 The New Address System Vs. The Original Address System in Korea

Old Address System in Korea

The old address system in Korea is quite confusing. Houses with similar addresses tend to be close to each other, but there is little order. When going to a new place, it is often more useful to use landmarks rather than addresses because houses are not in numerical order along the street and people do not use street names. This system was created during the Japanese colonial period and is also used in Japan to this day. It classifies areas of a city by 구 (district) and 동 (neighborhood). In rural areas, 군(district), 면 (neighborhood) and 리 (close neighborhood). Parcels of land are assigned numbers but in no relation to the street they are on.

Why Is the Old Address System so Confusing?

This is an example map with the old address on it. When they checked the land and the owner for the first time, it should have been much simpler. But for decades of years, the owner might sell some part of his property. Or several people might inherited a land with an address, and they need to give new address to those new properties or lands. In the beginning, one parcel of land might have had an address, but when it's divided to several pieces, they were numbered with dashes following the original numbers.
For example, let's assume there is a big land whose address is 617. If the owner sells a small amount of land in north, it needs to have a new address, and it becomes 617-1. If the owner were to then sell a small amount of land in south, its new address becomes 617-2. In this case, although 617-1 and 617-2 sounds very close to each other, it could be quite far from each other. You can see similar examples on the map above. Please find the address number 141. 141-3 is next to the 141-14 and 141-15.

New Address System   새주소 시스템

Korean government has been trying to promote the new address system. It's much closer to the international address system, assigning road, street and avenue names. It is still confusing because there are so many side roads and narrow allies in Korea, especially in old neighborhoods. But if you keep some concept of the size of street, it could be less confusing. The biggest road is 대로, the next is 로 and the smallest street unit is 길. If there are smaller branch streets of 길, they use the Korean alphabets - 가, 나, 다, 라, ... to name it.

Ex. 서울시 강남구 강남대로 10길 109  (십 길 백구)    
This place is in Gangnam-Gu, Seoul, There is a road whose name is 강남대로. You can guess this is a big road from the road unit, 대로. Along this big road, there is the 10th alley whose name is 10길. If you go into this alley, you will find a house with number 109.

Ex. 서울시 중구 난계로 17길 19-15  (십칠 길, 십구 다시 십오)
This place is in Jung-Gu, Seoul. There is a road whose name is 난계로. If you go into the 17th alley, there is a house with number 19-15.

Ex. 대구시 수성구 달구벌대로 323길 56 (삼백이십삼 길  오십 육)
This place is in Suseong-Gu, Daegu. There is a big road whose name is 달구벌대로. 323번길 is the 323th road along the 달구벌대로. If you go into this road, there is a house with number 56.

Ex. 서울시 중구 퇴계로 88 다길 31 (팔십팔 다 길 삽십 일)
This place is in Jung-Gu, Seoul. There is a road whose name is 퇴계로. If you go into the 88th alley, you can find another branch alley whose additional name is "다". Please remember that "다" is from 가, 나, 다, 라, 마 .....  If you go into this branch alley, there is a house with number 31.

Please see one example map with the new address. This map is the same place with the map above. As there are many alleys, it looks still confusing, but at least the numbers are in the right order.

How to Find Your New or Old Address?

The new address panel is attached on the house. If you know your old address, you can check the new one at You also can covert the new address to old address here. Their English service is not good, it might be better to use Korean.

Promoting the New Address System

Korean government is trying hard to promote this new address system. But people have been using the old system for decades years. It is very difficult to make people to use the new address system within a short time. Although many people know that the new one is more efficient, most people are still using the old system. Also, there are so many narrow allies and small street in Korea, it is still hard to find one location with a single address (though, still easier than the old system). 

What Address System Do I Need to Use???

This is my personal opinion.
I am still using the old one as are most Koreans. If you don't have passion to promote the new address system, please follow what most Korean people are using. If you use the new address system now, many people may be confused. If you feel many Koreans use the new system, then it will be the time when you can try the new system.

One tip, if you are doing something in the government office, it may be easier to use the new address system. The government is officially using the new system.

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