Guide for Living in Korea

Phone & Apps

    Unlocking Your Phone

    If you want to use the phone you use in your home country while in Korea you should unlock it before coming here. However, you can still use any device that can connect to Wi-Fi whether it is locked or not, given you have Wi-Fi access. For example, if you bring an un-locked phone, you can still use applications like kakao talk and the internet through Wi-Fi, but you cannot make calls or texts.

    Useful Apps

    • Kakao Talk: Kakao Talk is available on all platforms of smartphones and PC. It is used by practically all Korean people. It is an application that allows you to message and even to call your friends for free when you have access to Wi-Fi. It is also a great way to stay in touch with people from your home country if you can get them to install it!
    • Naver Map: Naver Map is an informative navigation app which provides information on transportation and facilities as well as navigation function. By using Naver Map, you can search the routes and transportation schedules. It also provides locations and detiled information on cafes, restaurants, pharmacies, banks and ATMs around you.
    • KakaoMetro: KakaoMetro provides a metro map and searching services as you select your start and destination stations. It shows the detils of the route, metro schedules, estimated arrival time and transfer information.
    • Naver Papago: Apart from the Google Translation, Naver Papago can be an one of the more accurate translation app. It has translation, AI translation and speech recognition functions, so that you can easily translate the words, sentences and voices.
    • Delivery apps: There are number of delivery apps which are commonly used in Korea: 'Baedal Minjok', 'Yogiyo', 'Coupang Eats', and 'Baedal Geek'. Each application provides diverse menus you can order, and you can find out how much delivery time will be. 

    Getting a Phone in Korea

    There are three mobile telecommunications service providers in Korea: KT, SKT and LGT. As Korea runs its mobile network on CDMA, not GSM, it is pointless to try to use your unlocked mobile device in Korea. Mobile phone subscriptions require proper identification and proof of residency. Usually, a valid passport and a residence card suffice as documents for review by the service providers. The Status of stay, shown on residence card, determines the eligibility for subscription to either a pre- or post-payment plan.

    Telecommunications Company Service Centers & Retail Stores

    LG U+
    LG Telecom operates several authorized stores with signs that say 'LGU+' as well as a customoer call center exclusively for foreigners. Please call the customer center beforehand in order to find out which stores provide interpretation services, since not all of them do. 
      - Customer Call Center for Foreigners: +82-2-1544-0010

    KT, located in Gwanghwamun, provides mobile phone subscription manulas in foreign lagnuage. In partnership with the volunteer translation service organization, BBB Korea, the Gwanghwamum service center offers consultation in 17 different languages.
      - Contact: +82-2-733-0285
      - Homepage:
      - Location: Gwanghwamun Station (Subway Line 5), Exit 2 > Olleh Square (1F, Service Lounge)
      - Customer Call Center for Foreigners: +82-2-2190-1180 (English, Japanese, Chinese)

    SK Telecom
    SK Telecom operates several authorized stores with signs that say 'T World' or 'SK Telecom' as well as a customer call center exclusively for foreigners. Please call the customer center beforehand in order to find out which stores provide interpretation services, since not all of them do.
      - Customer Call Center for Foreigners: +82-80-2525-011 (English, Japanese, Chinese)

    Prepaid Plan (Short-Term Plan)

    Prepaid plan is recommended for foreigners who:
         - Don't have Residence Card
         - Staying for less than 6 months

    To use prepaid plan, users must purchase credits in advance to pay for mobile phone service. There are mobile phone retailers in the Student Center Building (Bldg. 63), where you can parchase prepaid plan. Credits come in a prepaid phone card, which is issued by a service provider after screening the customers. Uses must purchase a new card once the old card has been maxed out or expired. 

    Postpaid Plan (Monthly Contract Plan)

    If you are going to be in South Korea for two years or more, getting a mobile phone on a contract may be the best option. It is the most economical choice in the long run and offers the best choice of cell phones, as signing a contract of continual use can enable you to get good phones for free or relatively cheaper. The monthly costs vary with usage, but this may be the best option for those planning to use their phone on a regular basis.


    • Residence Card (RC) (which usually takes 3- 6 weeks to receive after arrival)
    • Domestic Bank account under your name
    • Note: It’s advisable to bring a Korean friend or colleague with you while signing the contract as otherwise; you may not be fully informed about all the details of the contract due to the language barrier.
    Seoul National University Office of International Affairs, CJ
    International Center(Bldg, #152), Seoul National University, 1
    Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul 08826 Republic of Korea

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