An officetel is designed to be a partially self-contained building, such that its occupants can live and work in the same building, minimizing commute time. Because of the convenience of having daily routines located in one building, a significant proportion of the officetel's inhabitants include lawyers, accountants, tax accountants, professors, and artists. Office space is usually parceled out or leased to trading companies and small- to medium-sized businesses.
Officetels are mainly found downtown or around major transportation hubs. As the scale of construction grows over time, officetels tend to offer more commercial and housing features through amenities like sports centers and shopping facilities. After the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the construction of officetels has increased rapidly due to governmental deregulations, and they are now taking a substantial portion of the housing market in the Seoul Metropolitan Area.
Officetel parcels are commonly 50 to 100 m² in size. Most officetel residential spaces are a studio apartment with bathroom, kitchen, and bed areas. Basic furnishings are usually included with an officetel lease. It is currently illegal to have an Ondol tub or balcony heating systems in an officetel.
The first officetel was built in Mapo, Seoul by the Korea Development Corporation in 1985. After that, demand increased, so construction companies and housing cooperations took part in the growing the trend of building officetels.
- Lee SangYoung, Kim ByungUk 2002 "오피스텔 시장분석과 수익률 추정" 감정평가연구 12(2), pp.91-108.
- Morris, Joe. Lovenests: Newlyweds of the Asian Tigers. HarperCollins, New York, 1996. p. 77.