In general, you should avoid importing on your own as you have to fill out several documents while bearing high fees and long shipping times.However, in some cases it’s impossible to get a product in Korea, it’s more expensive even after adding up the costs mentioned above or the shipping is done faster by importing on your own.
Case: Pivothead over Amazon.com
As I often walked through the streets of Seoul I thought about an alternative to my smart phone to capture these experiences. While I first concluded that a better photo camera would motivate me more to take (better) pictures I came up with the idea to get video glasses (with recording functions) and become familiar with them as I want to buy smart glasses (additional augmented reality functions) on the long run.
After investigation of my opportunities to get one in Korea I finally decided to import a Pivothead from the US.
How to get video glasses
It turns out that the opportunities to buy video glasses in Seoul are very small. First, I tried my luck at the Yongsan Electronics Market, consisting of more than 3.000 stores, but in a few hours strolling around (a map can be seen here in the upper middle of the page) I only found one seller who offered one model (that I haven’t found online again for comparisson). As the range of available products seemed so small I decided to look online for offers. It turned out that many of the offered video glasses on Amazon.com got average to negative total ratings so I first needed to draw up a shortlist of good products. As only some of the vendors shipped to Korea the potential selection of glasses reduced to only three models: one from Forestfish, the one above from Pivothead and one by Cyclops Gear (which was too expensive for me). Unfortunately, the usual shipping from US to Korea takes between 10 and 20 business days so I chose the express delivery within four business days for additionial 30 $. Finally, this was the reason why I selected the more expensive Pivothead rather than Forestfish; the delivery costs would otherwise nearly been as high as the cost for the product itself.
Where not to get glasses
As video glasses are niche products, it will be hard to find used products online, at least when you’re not familiar with korean. Craigslist.com didn’t have anything, so I also checked Gmarket (korean Ebay). Gmarket has some of the products available on Amazon.com in new condition as it’s importing them; however, the delivery here takes even two to four weeks and is not cheaper than buying it directly from Amazon.com.
Try to buy video glasses outside of Korea before you move to there. It’s hard to find local offers and importing via Gmarket takes a few weeks and it’s not cheaper than ordering from Amazon.com including fees for regular (not express) delivery.
Me and some of my fellow exchange students wanted to send parcels with non-necessary stuff back to home countries to leave space inside our luggages.
A good way to export commodities is shipping them with Korea Post by either plane or container ship, the latter being cheaper but with much longer delivery times, up to 3 months.
Case: Clothes and souvenirs via Korea Post
I decided to send clothes for colder temperatures and souvenirs to my home address in Germany.
I bought a carton from the Korea Post office located on the KU campus (approximately at the position on the map above) and also took the transport document with me. In my dormitory, I put my stuff into the box and filled out the documents at the same time. Finally, I brought it to the Korea Post office again and got a recipe for the sending. The price was about 75.000 WON for about 7,8 kg to Germany by plane (fast). The price depends on the weight, destination and mode (fast or slower plane, ship).
For my second parcel I brought my stuff with me and bought and prepared the box at the office. The clerks can help you with wrapping and make sure you fill out the documents correctly. This time I paid 29.400 WON for 7 kg. This is a bit odd and I suppose that ship as transport mode was chosen although I said plane again. Up until now I’m waiting for the parcel.
Edit 16th August, 2017: The parcel is still on its way. You can track its route on aftership.com. Hopefully it’ll arrive soon.
Screenshot of the tracked parcel on aftership.com
Case: E-Guitar as luggage
Another option to export is to take your new things with you on your flight. This can be cheaper and also you don’t have to wait until it arrives.
I travelled from Seoul Incheon Airport to Frankfurt with a transit in London with British Airways. At the counter in Seoul I talked with British Airways employees and the guitar in the hard case had to be checked-in as over-sized baggage. As I already used one free luggage, the cost for the transportation of the guitar was about £100 which I paid in WON.
The employees also told me that sometimes e-guitars in soft cases can be brought onto the plane as hand-baggage, but this depends solely on the security staff. They advised me to ask them first and if they deny bringing it on the board you can check it in as luggage. But as I didn’t want to take the risk to get rejected with a soft case I already bought the hard case in advance and haven’t asked the staff eventually.
Featured Image – By Ana Rahal (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Pivothead glasses – Taken from the Pivothead shop
Korea Post Logo – By Original raster image was provided by Korea Post, retouched for accuracy and vectorized by Nudimmud. [KOGL (http://www.kogl.or.kr/open/info/license_info/by.do)], via Wikimedia Commons