Nathalie from the YouTube channel TravelingNat breaks down all you need to know about how to get a phone in Korea with this great how-to video. From phone contracts and plans to how to use your smartphone from home in Korea, make sure to watch the video so you can become a full-fledged technological citizen of Korea.

So you’ve been able to settle into your new life in Korea. You realize two things: you are the only person on the train not fixated on your phone screen because, well, you have no internet. And people want to save your phone number, but you still don’t have a local number anyone can reach you on. How are you even living life right now, in the world’s leader of internet and technology?

I will help you enter back into the technological era and provide you with the information necessary for how to get a phone in Korea. Getting plugged into Korea is much easier than you may think. There are just a few things you need, and then you’ll blend into this techno-savvy world.

Phone Carriers in Korea

There are three main phone carriers in Korea that you can choose from:

U+ from LG, SK Telecom, and Olleh with KT wireless.

I can’t tell you which is the best to choose. My advice would be to do some research, ask your coworkers, and decide for yourself.


Before you can even think of getting a phone plan in Korea, you need to make sure that you have 2 things:

1) Alien Registration Card (ARC)

This is imperative! You can’t get your ARC card until you go through the process of having your health check completed. So make sure that you complete that within the first two weeks you arrive in Korea (it takes about 3-4 weeks to receive your card).

2) Korean Account Bank Information

Yes, you need a Korean bank account in order to get a phone. You can’t get a bank account until you have your ARC card (so you see why I say to get that ASAP?) When you are ready to purchase a new phone or phone plan, have either your bank account number or your bank book handy with you. The phone store will input this information to make paying your bills a breeze!

Do I HAVE to buy a new phone?

The answer is NO! You can bring your phone from home. Your phone has to be UNLOCKED before you come to Korea (contact your current service provider to find out how to unlock your phone). You must make sure that it is compatible with either GSM/WCDMA 2100mHz frequencies. To see if your phone is compatible with any of the phone carriers here in Korea, check out this website.

What kinds of phone plans can I choose from?

Before we discuss phone plans, I want to tell you that you do have other options. You can get a prepaid phone, a prepaid sim card, a rent-a-phone, as well as many other types of options. It’s really up to you. You can get these options from local convenience stores or third-party phone companies. However, usually these options do not include data (internet), and if they do, you will be paying an arm and a leg for it. If you are looking to be constantly connected to the internet (highly recommended) your best option would be getting a phone plan.

Buying a new phone:

When you buy a new phone in Korea, you will be locked into a 2-year contract. The total price of your phone will be divided down by 24 months. So each month you are paying for a portion of your phone, along with the price of your monthly contract. If you are not planning on staying in Korea longer than 1 year, I would reconsider this option. Usually, there is a fee to cancel early, and you have to pay the remaining balance of the price of your phone at one time.

Bringing a phone from home:

I believe that this is the best option to choose from, especially for foreigners and ESL teachers living in Korea. This is a non-contract option, meaning that you are not locked in for a set period of time. You pay for your phone/data plan every month. When you are ready to leave, just contact your provider a month before to end your plan. Again, you must have your phone unlocked and it must support GSM/WCDMA 2100 MHz frequencies.

For more information, check out the video. Don’t forget to look in the description box for the links and other FAQs!


Do you have something to else to add about how to get a phone in Korea? Leave your comment below to join the conversation!