Where Can You Throw Away Trash in Public in South Korea?

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While going around in South Korea exploring, shopping, or experiencing the city, you’ll often accumulate some trash from different things and food you’re purchasing.

Something that you’ll quickly realize is that it’s not always easy to find somewhere to throw away your trash, which was something I was surprised by as well, coming from a country where trash cans are everywhere in the city I live in.

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Some of the places to look for when you’re out and about and need to throw away trash in South Korea are subway stations, public toilets, larger shops and convenience stores, inside malls, dedicated areas and trash cans on the street, near large tourist attractions, and at your accommodation.

You can find more details on each of these places below, as well as when it’s okay to use them.

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Places to throw away trash in South Korea while on the go

One of the things that I quickly realized while exploring Seoul was that it was quite difficult to find a trash can anywhere when you were out and about.

Contrary to many other countries, including my home country, there isn’t an abundance of trash cans around for the public to use in South Korea.

If you know where to look, however, you can usually find a trash can in Seoul, Busan, or another major city not too far from where you currently are.

Here are some of the places where you can usually find a trash can when you’re not at home in South Korea:

Inside subway stations

Almost all subway stations have trash cans located either on the way down to the subway tracks or right next to the subway tracks.

The trashcans you’ll find in subway stations are usually clear boxes and are divided by general waste and plastic.

Clear trash cans in subway station in Seoul South Korea

There are tons of subway stations in South Korea, so they’re usually a safe bet when needing to throw something away while out and about. Also, if you know you’re going to take the subway later, you can hold onto your trash till then.

Public toilets

Many public toilets in South Korea have trash cans located in the area where you wash your hands or inside the actual toilet.

Sometimes, only the women’s bathroom has a trash can inside them. In such a case, they are meant for hygienic products, but as they’re sorted as general waste, you can also throw other trash out there.

If you’re unsure where to find a toilet, check out our guide on where to find public restrooms in South Korea.

Larger shops and convenience stores

Some larger shops in South Korea have a common trash can for customers to use. If a shop has one, they are usually located near the entrance.

Most convenience stores also have trash cans, but they are meant for trash from food and products purchased there.

It is, however, usually okay to purchase something in the convenience store and then throw other trash out along with the trash from whatever you’ve purchased. Just don’t go into the convenience store only to use their trash can for your own trash.

Inside malls

Most malls also have public trash cans that everyone can use.

They are usually located around elevators and other areas where a lot of people walk by.

The larger the mall, the higher the chance that they have public trash cans for you to use. So, if you’re near one, you might want to check if they do.

Dedicated trash areas and public trash cans on the street

While a bit rare, depending on the area, some streets in South Korea have public trash cans for everyone to use.

You’ll usually only find these in areas where there are a ton of people on a regular basis or in areas that were recently rebuilt or are of wealthier character.

Sometimes, you’ll also see trash bags lying on the side of the streets.

South Korea trash bags on the street

If they are open, it’s usually okay to throw your trash away in those as well. Just be sure not to put general waste in a bag that is clearly for plastics only, for example. Also, if you see a stack of cardboard boxes, don’t put non-cardboard trash on it, as some people are collecting it. Only put the same kind of trash that there’s already there into a bag or stack.

Near large tourist attractions

As large tourist attractions not only attract a lot of people but usually also a lot of trash, you’ll often find public trash cans near these.

The trash cans at tourist attractions are usually located near entrances or areas where you can purchase things that generate trash.

At your accommodation

While obvious for most, an option you have, if you’re not too far from your accommodation or are going home soon, is to hold onto your trash and throw it away when you get back.

All accommodations will have their own area to throw away trash, usually located outside the building or in the basement.

Trash area at accommodation in South Korea

When you throw away trash at your accommodation, be sure to sort your trash properly.

Some accommodations have dedicated days to throw away trash, in which case you have to hold onto your trash till then.

That’s where you can throw away trash in South Korea when you’re out and about!

Have any input or suggestions for this guide? Let us know in the comment section below.

Tim Stadel Clausen

Tim Stadel Clausen is the owner of Timzer Travels. He has been fortunate to be able to travel around the world because of his work, and he now shares guides and travel tips to help others.

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