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.
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 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: ollehsquare.kt.com
- 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 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 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.
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.