Buying a used car from a new/used dealership in Korea (SOFA card holders)

Buying a used car from a new/used dealership in Korea (SOFA card holders)

This is a post for those of you who want to buy a slightly used car but through Korean used or new car dealerships.

I just help some good friends of mine buy car last night and found the process relatively “easy” (if I knew the following information beforehand).

You can shop online through a Korean used car website website such as It’s the autotrader of Korea.  I’ll layout the simple features in a pictorial but best to have a Korean friend, coworker or KATUSA help you out.  Know what kind of model your interested in.  That cuts then number down from the thousands.  Then you can be more specific to the make, year, cost, options, etc.

When getting to the dealer, make sure to test drive it around the block and look for dents, scratches and imperfections   Hopefully, your friend will be gracious enough to come along to translate any problems that need to be fixed and haggle.  A lot of the used car people will use a pen and paper or calculator to bargain.  The first car we looked at went from 8.75 mil to 8.2M after a little bargaining.  They will also include free delivery to your house or location of your choosing.

the ultimate Korean car portal

Make sure when talking to the dealer, you have some questions in mind that you would ask a dealer at home as well.  Especially about accidents, what damage was done, and how it was fixed/replaced.  Look for unwanted vibrations or alignment problems when driving.

what to bring to the dealership (new or used):

-USFK ID card. (they will make a copy but don’t freak out.  it’s standard Korean practice to copy the buyers ID for their records for the Korean DMV.  I suggest putting a piece of electric tape over your rank or anything you consider sensitive.)
– USFK orange driver’s licence
– SOFA card for VAT sales tax immunity purposes
– copy of your USAA, etc insurance policy (you cannot drive the car off the lot without a policy!)
– cold hard Korean won (they can’t accept checks from navy federal or USAA on the economy.)

– set aside maybe 3-4 hours from the selection time

When signing for the vehicle, you basically sign a contract with the dealer.  The difference between buying a car as SOFA person vs. normal foreigner here in Korea is that the car dealer doesn’t register the car for you.

For Daegu: Camp Henry’s car registration office will handle all of the paperwork for you once you purchase the car.
For Seoul: Camp Kim will handle the registration.
You should leave with:
– car registration paper complete with inspection validity period and VIN details
– car contract and receipt
– manuals and spare set of keys if applicable
If you’re thinking about investing in a car in the Daegu area then I suggest going West to Seo-gu.  A lot of the city’s used car markets are there.  The ones in Chilgok and Buk-gu sell a lot of junkers and that’s the place the slimy Korean used guy on Walker will show you.  Encar has a lot of bargains but you just need to be prepared to do a little more legwork.  Happy car hunting Area IV!
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