Public Service Announcement: Shipping Your Car to and from South Korea

Driver side inside car--Public Service Announcement: Shipping Your Car to South Korea

If you recall, we’re here in St. Louis to pick up my car. What was initially planned as a one-day task has now extended to day 8. Over the past week, Steven and I made a pitstop in St. Louis to get the car reprogrammed. The car was shipped from South Korea, and during its journey, the rear passenger-side window was damaged. Fortunately, this issue was resolved before we reached the distribution center. But this is not the first time we shipped a car from Korea to the US. And unfortunately, that car was damaged as well.

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!

This post is sponsored and/or contains affiliate links, from which I earn a commission at no extra cost to the reader. I appreciate your support and know that all the views expressed are my own.

Beware: Your Car Will Pronably be Damaged Too

Extended Layover in St. Louis

Make sure you get a temp tag for your car BEFORE you leave South Korea. After we retrieved our car we registered in Iowa, and on our way to visit family in Nashville, we stopped by a BMW dealership in St. Louis to reprogram the maps and other systems for use in the United States. And that, my friends, is when we encountered an unexpected problem. Unfortunately, programming the car wasn’t as simple as we thought, which led to an extended layover in St. Louis.

Join 4,695 other subscribers


*Important note… military members don’t necessarily have to register the car where you are stationed. Do a little research to find out where you can save a few bucks. It’s much cheaper to register my baby in Iowa as opposed to Illinois where we actually live.

ImgResizer_20231006_1458_59332-519x692 Public Service Announcement: Shipping Your Car to and from South Korea

Where We Stayed

We initially stayed at the Hotel Saint Louis, an upscale hotel in the Marriott Autograph Collection. It is a beautiful historic Art Deco hotel in downtown Saint Louis near the Arch and Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals play. We usually stayed in a suite, but none were available, so we stayed in a deluxe room. You can read all about it here. We had planned to stay overnight and then go see my brother in Nashville. But when the car wasn’t ready after the fourth night, we drove to see my brother in Nashville for a couple of nights, then drove back to St. Louis. We checked back in for another night.

There wasn’t much going on downtown, so we decided to explore the cafes in other areas of Saint Louis.
panoramic-front-car-windshield-519x326 Public Service Announcement: Shipping Your Car to and from South Korea

Multiple Car Problems

Firstly, we have had the experience of shipping two cars from South Korea to the US and back. On the second occasion, the vehicle suffered damage during transit. Back in 2017, someone dented the car’s side panel and attempted to repair it, all without informing us. However, they should have realized that Steven would notice the damage. He meticulously hand-washes my car every Saturday and is intimately familiar with every inch of it.
Sheetz-unleaded-88-for-the-holidays-519x692 Public Service Announcement: Shipping Your Car to and from South Korea

This time, however, there was a different issue – the rear passenger window was broken. Fortunately, the window was held together by the window tint. What was strange was that the distribution center notified us via email instead of making a phone call. We remained unaware of the damage for two weeks, only discovering it a few days before departing South Korea. Thankfully, they completed the necessary repairs to our satisfaction before our arrival.
Steven-at-shipping-distro-center-519x692 Public Service Announcement: Shipping Your Car to and from South Korea

Shipping a Car to South Korea

When we received orders to go abroad, we found ourselves contemplating the advantages of shipping a car to our new assignment. The government covers the cost of shipping one car. Then we had to decide which car to ship. In our case, we decided to store the Honda and ship the BMW. The reason was quite simple—it was my car, and Steven planned to purchase a “beater” once we arrived in South Korea.

Leaving such a beautiful car in storage for two or three years didn’t sit well with us. Plus, considering the challenging traffic and driving conditions in South Korea, Steven believed I’d be safer in the larger car.

Of course, other crucial factors must be considered, such as insurance, maintenance, service, and the logistics of storing your other car. Transitioning overseas can come with its unique considerations, and this was just one of the many choices we had to make.
1000053309 Public Service Announcement: Shipping Your Car to and from South Korea

The Fix to the Problem

As it turns out, the issue with the car originated in South Korea. When we shipped the car, the mechanic who had initially programmed it for use in Asia disconnected the connectors that enable navigation use. Then, he tucked the wire far back into the harness and secured it with two different colored tape. The technician had to look at the entire harness to find it. Consequently, when we brought the car to the BMW dealership, it took a considerable amount of time to program because it triggered numerous error messages. Surprisingly, the disconnected navigation connector was not one of the issues they initially identified.

Google Maps is Forbidden in South Korea

It may seem unusual to disconnect the navigation system, but it’s a practice that’s quite common in South Korea. This approach is taken due to the restrictions imposed on navigation apps that don’t originate in South Korea. Apps like Google Maps and other foreign navigational tools are prohibited because of the ongoing conflict with North Korea. Consequently, South Korea permits only a select few apps, such as Waze, Kakao Maps, and Naver, for navigation within the country. It’s a unique situation driven by the geopolitical context of the region.

You can use Korean based apps like Kakao Maps, Waze, and Naver. However, Naver, is the only one with a built-in search engine. And all of them have their limitations as far as the English (spelling) language, narration, and usage on military installations.

Inside-car-dashboard-519x692 Public Service Announcement: Shipping Your Car to and from South Korea

Black Box Cameras

Equipping your car, regardless of make, with extra cameras or a black box before shipping it to South Korea is a strategic move in the face of aggressive driving and tight parking scenarios. While many cars come equipped with built-in cameras, adding additional surveillance tech serves as a powerful deterrent. The bustling South Korean roads demand a proactive stance against potential mishaps.

Beyond accident documentation, these added devices send a clear message: hands off my wheels. Navigating cramped parking garages becomes less nerve-wracking when you have a comprehensive record of your vehicular ballet. Consider it your car’s personal defense system, protecting not only against accidents but also against false claims of collisions or scratches, providing a solid alibi in the often challenging driving environment of South Korea.

Luckily, you can also have a great black box system installed in Korea too.


This post is a public service announcement. So if you ship a car with a navigation system, it’s essential to be aware that they may disable the use of navigation when you take it to BMW for radio reprogramming. But that may also save you as much as $4000 in the long run. So beware.

Like it? Pin it!

Shopping-your-car-South-Korea-Saint-Louis--519x692 Public Service Announcement: Shipping Your Car to and from South Korea

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.