The Korean word chul-jang (출장) may mean “business trip,” but don’t let that fool you—you won’t be the one traveling. If you see that term preceding the name of any business, it means the company offers services that come right to your door. And in Korea, that goes way beyond your typical food or laundry deliveries. Think bigger, like knife-sharpeners who make house calls. Or a dead-houseplant-replacement service that hauls off your failed banana trees. Three words come to mind: Only. In. Korea. Here’s just a taste of what the industry offers.
Home Planting Service (출장 분갈이)
If you have a black thumb like me, you’re no stranger to replacing houseplants every once in a while. This only really gets problematic when you have an oversize plant or heavy planter that’s difficult to move on your own. And if you live in an apartment without an outdoor space, you’ll be left to deal with the aftermath. Thankfully, there are services like Doctor Garden that will come to you to replace your dead plant without making a mess. Just contact them with the size of your planter and the kind of replacement plant you’re looking for. When I used the service recently, they sent me photos of small trees from their nursery that were compatible with my planter. They arrived the next day with a Bengal rubber tree I had picked out and a bag of soil, and replaced my planter over a tarp that protected the foyer. In the end, I was able to dispose and gain a new plant without lifting a finger for 80,000 won (approximately 70 USD).
Living in the US?: Commercial plant care services are readily available for businesses throughout the States, but residential care seem to be limited to bigger budget projects like “patio-scaping.” For a more economical one-time service, you might have better luck with TaskRabbit.
Home Banchan Delivery (반찬배달)
There’s nothing better than having a few containers of banchan, or Korean side dishes, in the fridge for those nights when you’re too busy to cook. Banchan delivery services have been around for a while in Korea, but Baemin Fresh, the latest service from the Korean food delivery app, is taking food delivery to the next level. Baemin Fresh provides everything you could ask for: basic banchan with pre-marinated meat dishes, mildly seasoned food for toddlers, and nutrition-packed meals for the expecting mother. They also deliver fresh bread, juices, desserts, and select grocery items from their partners. Did I mention that everything arrives in styrofoam coolers between midnight and 6am on the requested delivery date? I usually opt for the quintessential five-banchan series, and every once in a while I’ll splurge on a pre-marinated meat dish for a weekend or special occasion at home. Remember, it’s not cheating if your mother-in-law doesn’t know.
Living in the US?: While there may not be a dedicated banchan delivery yet, it’s possible to get a concierge service like Instacart or Postmates to pick up your favorite sides from the local Korean grocery store.
Home Buffet Service (출장뷔페)
Koreans hosting a dinner party, housewarming, or an intimate one-year birthday party (dol) often turn to an at-home buffet service. Depending on the scale and your desired presentation, at-home buffet services can be served in silver platters like a real buffet, or plated in advance to look like it was all homemade. Again, what your guests don’t know won’t hurt them.
Living in the US?: Check your local K-town connections for referrals. Most Korean buffet and catering services are available for bigger parties and weddings, but some catering services (like Shin Mi in Los Angeles) will accommodate smaller parties of ten or more.
Home Knife Sharpening Service (출장 칼갈이)
Where do you get your knife sharpened, and how much does it cost? The aptly named “Knife Resurrection” runs out of a tiny van equipped with a knife sharpening machine where I got four knives sharpened in under ten minutes for 8,000 won (around 7 USD). Granted, there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll get a master sharpener, but it saves you from wandering out of the house with a bag full of knives.
Living in the US?: Sharpeners who make house calls are still a novelty in the states, so try searching locally for door-to-door. You may also be able to find one at your local artisan or farmer’s market or high-quality kitchenware store.
Laundry and dry cleaning services
Laundry pick-up and drop-off services are nothing new to Korea, where neighborhood dry cleaners have been scaling the stairwells of apartment buildings for years, calling out to potential customers. But it has taken new life with a slew of laundry apps geared towards busy working professionals in Seoul. I recently used Clean Basket to clean a few pieces of clothing, and it couldn’t have be easier. Select what you need cleaned from an extensive list of items and request a pick-up date and time (anytime between 10am and midnight). I love seeing a price list, because it helps you avoid being overcharged. In-app transactions make the drop-off quick and hassle-free. Some services like Wash Swat deliver your clothes laundered, pressed and ready to wear in less than 24 hours. Not bad for the city that never waits.
Living in the US?: Rinse offers door-to-door laundry and dry cleaning services in select cities.