Average Cost of Living
Depending on where else you have lived you may find some of Korea's expenses a bit high and others very low.
While Chinhae and Busan have large western style grocery stores and lots of little local markets, the prices on staple items can vary greatly. Produce is very cheap when it is in season but very expensive out of season. Many families try to stock up at the small commissary in Chinhae or the larger one in Daegu (2 hour drive) for a few items that are much cheaper, such as beef or butter, or specialty items only available on base like items for those with dietary restrictions or holiday items.
Korean restaurants can be a fun and reasonably priced way to soak up the local atmosphere. However, the more westernized a place looks, probably the higher the price as well.
Coffee is a way of life here in Korea and there are a multitude of chains and little kiosks on almost every corner. Some can be as cheap as $2.50 for a latte and others as much as $5 or $6 for the same drink so shop around and discover your favorite coffee/tea place to relax in or get a "take away" beverage (this phrased is used commonly instead of "to-go").
A night out can come with a little sticker shock if you like cocktails, import or craft beers, but if you develop a taste for some of the Korean beers or soju drinks, you can hang on to little more of your money.
Living out in town can be a great experience but know that there are often extra costs you may not be used to such as a building maintenance fee or depending on your apartment rules, paying for special trash bags or large item disposal fees. Utilities can run pretty high in the summer and winter for the AC and heat so be aware of the rough costs for your building if possible by checking with the realtor or if there are any other military and families living there.
Service members are not required to secure passports for entrance into Korea for their duty assignment because of existing Status of Forces Agreement. Family members who accompany are required to have a passport and a A-3 VISA and have completed the South Korea Electronic Travel Authorization, K-ETA, Waiver: The South Korea Electronic Travel Authorization is now available online. (koreaonlinevisa.com. The current SOFA states that "Members of civilian component, their dependents and the dependents of members of the US Armed Forces shall be in possession of appropriate documentation issued by appropriate US authorities so that their status may be verified by the authorities of the Republic of Korea." Contact the local transportation or legal office prior to departure to determine how to obtain an A-3. Immediately after arrival/in-processing bring your passport to PSD at Bldg.606 so that if your VISA does not state A-3 status, they may assist you in obtaining an upgrade and being issued a SOFA stamp. The SOFA stamp is required to verify the special status of civilians and dependents under SOFA.
Service members will need copy of PCS orders and ID card or leave chit and ID card to travel between the US and Korea. To travel to other foreign countries not covered by SOFA, service members will most likely need passports. Law effective 2 July, 2001 requires signatures of both parents to obtain passports for children under the age of 13. If one parent is not available to sign the passport application, parental consent can be documented with a signed, notarized letter or statement from the absent parent providing permission to take the child or children overseas.
Unaccompanied personnel from E-6 and below are not authorized to own and operate privately owned vehicles. Waivers and/or exemptions are covered under USFK Reg 190-1. For more information and details visit the United State Forces Korea at https://www.usfk.mil/
A current driver's license (one that will not expire during their time in Korea) and the completion of two JKOs is required to obtain a Republic of Korea driver's license. Both JKOs can be completed before coming to Korea, and certificates obtained from the JKOs should be submitted to the Transportation Department upon arrival.
One (1) car is allowed on accompanied orders. One (1) car is allowed for E-6 and above on unaccompanied orders.
For most cars getting parts locally is usually not that difficult. The nearest AAFES Car Care Center is located at Camp Walker in the city of Daegu (approx 1 ½ hour drive, depending on traffic) but there are local mechanics close to base and in the city of Busan.
Most Korean’s own cars and as military personnel are PCS’ing to other duty stations there are opportunities to purchase inexpensive cars. You will find that Korean cars can be purchased locally at reasonable prices. Inexpensive resale cars are available from military personnel who are PCSing to other duty stations. However be aware that traffic can be difficult and most Korean drivers are very aggressive with very little patience and heeding of traffic laws.
Telephone Access in Korea
Dialing instructions to call Chinhae Navy Base:
Department - Phone Number:
What to bring
All military personnel should bring a generous supply of uniforms, patches, ribbons, etc., since most are not available locally and have to be ordered from Japan.
What not to bring
Do not bring guns or firearms of any type. Even those that have been properly registered in the United States are illegal in the Republic of Korea.
Do not ship large amounts of furniture and appliances. On base housing is fully furnished and off base housing can be furnished or not furnished depending on your needs, but there is very little to no storage in most homes and storage centers do not really exist in Republic of Korea. Please refer to the CFAC Housing webpage at https://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnfk/installations/cfa_chinhae/ffr/housing-service-center.html.
Other Important Information
Korea's climate is regarded as a continental climate from a temperate standpoint and a monsoon climate from a precipitation standpoint. Korea is characterized by the four distinct seasons. Spring last from late March to May and is warm. Various flowers and the famous cherry blossoms cover the mountains and fields during this time. Summer lasts from June to early September. It is a hot and very humid time of the year. Autumn last from September to November, and produces mild weather. It is the best season for visiting Korea. Winter lasts from December to mid-March. It can be bitterly cold with December averaging a high of about 45 degrees during this time. Heavy snow in the northern and eastern parts of Korea makes for favorable skiing conditions.
Defense Service Network (DSN) Dialing Instructions
The DSN is the provider of long-distance communications service for the Department of Defense (DoD). Every installation has a special DSN number and the numbers vary by world-wide location. In order to place a call using DSN, the caller must be using a military phone on an installation. Cell phones cannot dial DSN numbers. When dialing a DSN number from a United States installation to another United States installation, it is unnecessary to dial the DSN 312 area code. When dialing a DSN number to/from overseas locations, the DSN area code must be included.
Commander, Navy Region Korea (CNRK) provides shore installation management and support to Navy activities throughout the Republic of Korea. CNRK exercises military command over Commander, Fleet Activities Chinhae, the only US Navy installation in Korea.
Commander, US Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) is the US Navy's representative in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and provides leadership and expertise in naval matters to the Republic of Korea (ROK) so as to improve institutional and operational effectiveness between the two navies and to strengthen collective security efforts in Korea and the region. To this end, CNFK works closely with its ROK counterparts throughout the year, and coordinates US Navy participation in several major joint and combined exercises each year. Sailors serving with CNFK can expect a challenging and interesting assignment, in an advanced country with fascinating cultural and recreational opportunities.
Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Korea (CNFK) is the U.S. Navy's representative in the Republic of Korea (ROK). It provides leadership and expertise in naval matters that support the mission of United Nations Command (UNC)/Combined Forces Command (CFC)/ United States Forces Korea (USFK). CNFK works closely with the ROK Navy to improve institutional and operational effectiveness and to strengthen collective security efforts in the Korean Theater.
In 2016 and 2017, CNFK relocated the majority of its personnel from the U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan in Seoul to the ROK Fleet base in Busan. CNFK is the only U.S. headquarters located on a ROK base. This move enables CNFK to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our ROK partners on a daily basis. Select CNFK staff are located on U.S. Army Garrison-Camp Humphreys near Pyeongtaek, and a separate detachment is located aboard Commander, Fleet Activities Chinhae.
Both navies coordinate multilateral participation in several combined training events each year designed to sustain and strengthen the alliance, maintain the Armistice, and transform and sustain the force. Throughout the year, the U.S. and ROK navies work together on several initiatives to continue strengthening the partnership through the close relationship CNFK has built with Commander, ROK Fleet (CRF).
Readiness is the number one priority for CNFK. As such, CNFK continued in calendar year 2019 to train in a combined manner at echelon to further enhance our combat readiness and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula.
In 2019, the ROK Minister of Defense and U.S. Secretary of Defense announced the conclusion of the Freedom Guardian training series and the beginning of combined trainings focused on Initial Operational Capability (IOC) assessment for wartime operational command (OPCON) transition. In March and August, the U.S. and ROK navies came together for important and intensive tabletop training on Naval Component Command responsibilities in support of the ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC)-led spring and fall Combined Command Post Training (CCPT) events.
In addition to maintaining the enduring commitment to the ROK-U.S. alliance, the CCPTs enable CNFK to continue to improve ROK-U.S. interoperability as the two countries work toward the common goal of OPCON transfer by training and rehearsing with our ROK allies and United Nations Sending State partners.
In early 2019, following an extended maintenance period, the 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) returned to Busan for her first port visit since August 2015, the first visit to CNFK since the command executed its move south from Yongsan.
CNFK also enables the continued development of strong relationships between our mine countermeasures operators and subject matter experts by hosting a UNC MCM symposium in Busan for eight UNSS nations, including facilitating U.S. and Australian Surface Mine Countermeasures (SMCM) ships during multinational mine warfare training.
CNFK supports training evolutions, port visits, and DV visits and key leader engagements, all aimed at improving teamwork and interoperability between the U.S. and ROK navies and strengthening the relationship to ensure continued regional stability.
Chinhae (population 192,000) is a district located in the larger city of Changwon (population 1.05 million).
CFAC is small remote base consisting of approximately 170 military personnel, 110 family members, 40 DOD personnel, and 155 KGS Population Approx employees.
Population - Approx. Number:
Chinhae (also spelled Jinhae) is a small city located on the southeast tip of the Korean peninsula. The city is cradled by the beautiful Jang Bok Mountains.
In addition to being the only U.S. Navy Base in Mainland Asia, Chinhae is home to the Republic of Korea (ROK) Naval Academy and the country's largest navy base. There are many opportunities to interact with local ROK sailors. Their base that we have some access through the Friendship Gate has a Dunkin Doughnuts and other services. The bases work together during COMRELS or competing on the sports fields.
The atmosphere in Chinhae is relaxed and friendly. U.S. Sailors and their families feel welcomed by the local residents. It is important to remember that we are ambassadors for the US Navy at all times.
Preferred Route when no pandemic: The most convenient way to get to COMFLEACT Chinhae is to fly to Narita Airport (Japan) or Incheon International Airport (Seoul, Korea) and then change flights to fly into Busan (Pusan) International Airport which is about 40-50mins drive away from CFAC. Here you can be met by your sponsor and driven back to CFAC.
Please ensure that you contact your sponsor before arriving in Korea and inform him/her of delays or changes in flight details. It is advised that you take a carry on with a clean uniform and essentials in case of lost or delayed luggage.
Passports are not needed for active duty personnel. Your military ID card and orders are sufficient to pass through customs. Passports and visas ARE required for dependents and civilian employees.
From DSN in Korea: 0
From DSN in US: 315-723-1110