How to Use an Umbrella in Seoul

Rainy season in Seoul is an adventure. From June to September, don’t leave home without an umbrella in your purse or bag, as heavy rains can erupt at any time. The maze of umbrellas on the sidewalks is a beautiful, colourful scene. But walking through them is a potentially dangerous task. You have to be attentive to your own umbrella’s whereabouts, as well as the whereabouts of the thousands of other umbrellas around you. For your safety and the safety of others, there are two good umbrella manoeuvres that can help keep the sidewalks injury-free during the rainy season: The Lift and The Tilt.

The Tilt is a popular technique because it’s simple and quick. A tilted umbrella takes up less space, creating a bigger path for a person to pass. Also, the pointy tips of the umbrella are further away from people’s faces, so there’s less potential for an accidental poking.

The Lift is my preferred method, simply because I’m in the taller half of the population. I just lift my umbrella above all the umbrellas around me, thus space is created yet I’m still fully covered by my umbrella. It works well if you’re one of the taller ones in the bunch because you don’t have to lift the umbrella very high. This method is not widely used, which is a good thing. Overuse will significantly lower its success rate.

But now it’s autumnmost Koreans favourite season. The skies are blue, the temperature is moderate, the leaves are colourful. I still carry my umbrella in my purse every day, just in case, but it’s rarely used. On my walks these days, I’m admiring the golden yellow and fiery red leaves on the trees all around me instead of watching for a wayward umbrella. Sometimes I miss the chaos of the rain, but I prefer the serenity of a sunny autumn day.