Keeping in Touch in South Korea

South Korea could be called the high-speed Internet capital of the world and caters to an extensively wired and young population. The biggest hurdle to keeping in touch in South Korea will be the time difference.

Almost three quarters of the population uses smartphones. In addition to the impressive Internet availability, mobile phones, landline phones and the oft-forgotten postal system are all reliable and affordable in South Korea.

The large expat community in Seoul also means that there is access to an array of English newspapers and publications, although most are in electronic form. 

The Internet in South Korea

Internet connectivity in South Korea is incredibly impressive. The country boasts the fastest Internet in the world, surpassing even its biggest rivals, China and Japan. Seoul is primarily outfitted with fibre optic lines, which results in seriously impressive speeds.

Outside of the big city, DSL lines are standard procedure in most of Korea; apartments can also be set up with Wi-Fi very easily, if it is not already installed. 

KT Broadband, SK Telecom and CJ Hellovision are the biggest Internet providers and offer good service at affordable prices. Expats wanting to set up an account will need an Alien Registration Card (ARC).

For people on the move, Internet cafés, known as PC Bangs, are everywhere in South Korea. Expats will have no problems getting computer access if they need it, even in the most remote areas. Wi-Fi is also freely available in many public spaces, for expats to use. 

Telephones in South Korea

There are three telephone operators in South Korea: SK Telecom, Korea Telecom (KT) and LG Uplus. All three offer good customer service available in English.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones or “handyphones” are by far the most popular means of communication in South Korea.

Affordable contracts are available in addition to prepaid options. Many expatriates sign up for a two-year contract with the least possible amount of call time, but with unlimited data, for their smartphone. If they then leave before their contract has finished, some will pass on the phone contract to someone else, usually another expatriate that has just arrived, or simply cancel the contract for a fee. 

In order to sign up for a contract or a prepaid phone, an expat will need their ARC and passport. Anyone who doesn’t speak Korean is advised to set up the terms of their agreement in Seoul, where employees are more likely to speak English.

Landline telephones

Landline phones are also inexpensive and very reliable. If an expat wants to install one they should ask their landlord. They will likely need a proof of residence and their ARC. 

Postal services in South Korea

In such a well-connected country, the South Korean postal system is not forgotten or neglected. International postage is not outrageously expensive and postcards can easily be sent in bulk without costing too much. Packages are delivered to people's homes or the office of their apartment building, although many expatriates choose to receive packages at work so they can sign for it.

The most difficult part might be finding a post office close to home or work, as there aren’t as many as there could be.

As a direct result of South Korea’s strong economy and the presence of large multinationals, courier services within South Korea are fast and reliable. Many international courier companies such as FedEx and DHL have offices in the country, in addition to local options such as Dazen.

Print media in South Korea

As a result of the large expat community in South Korea, a number of English-medium newspapers and online publications are available. There are some printed national newspapers which are distributed in larger cities, including The Korea Herald and The Korea Times, which also have English websites.