Survival Tip: All about SIM Card in South Korea! (Prepaid SIM Card for foreigners)

Do you want to use your phone in Korea with a prepaid SIM Card?

No worries! We’ve got you covered. 😉

Before getting a SIM Card…

First, you should check whether your phone is unlocked or not. If your phone is locked, then you should call your mobile service provider to unlock it or you can use your provider’s roaming service (but it’s expensive, so we advise not to use it).

Also, here’s a reminder for travelers from US or Canada to Korea. Some of the devices from your country may not have a SIM Card slot, so please check it before traveling.

Second, make sure your device supports WCDMA 2100 MHz frequencies. Take note that most Korean networks run as 3G and 4G.

1. Where to Buy a SIM Card

The most convenient and the easiest way to buy a SIM Card is to buy it online. If you have to buy it offline, don’t worry. You can purchase it at major convenience stores, Incheon Airport or Korean mobile service provider stores (KT, SKT, LG).

Convenience stores are the easiest places to buy a SIM Card. Small convenience store chains like Mini Stops or Family Mart sometimes don’t have enough inventories, so we strongly advise you to visit major convenience store chains like GS25, CU or Seven Eleven. %5BGS25%5DGS25_이용할_때_할인%2C_적립_팁_._정보_모음

2. Choose the Right SIM Card Typebyod-modal-step3-250x140

If you are using iPhone (iPhone 5/5S/6/6S), Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy 6 or up, then you need to get a Nano SIM Card. If you are using Galaxy 3/4/5, Huawei, HTC Desire, HTC Sensation, you should get a Dual SIM Card (micro+standard SIM). The price varies depending on each type of SIM Card (Nano SIM card is more expensive than the Dual SIM Card).

EG-SIMFBkl_.pngNevertheless, we highly recommend you to buy a USIM Card (Universal Subscriber Identity Module Card), a universal type which is compatible with phones using standard, micro and nano SIM. Seriously, USIM Card saves all your work!

After choosing the right SIM Card, decide how much you want to top up. You may find the same type of SIM Cards but with different prices. When you buy a SIM Card for the first time, the price includes the fee for the card and the rest of the amount will be for topping up.

For example, if you buy a card with the price of 30,000 won, the fee of the card is 10,000 won and the rest of the amount is the top-up.

3. Activate a SIM Card

When you purchase a SIM Card, you also get a manual including how to activate the card. Follow the manual to activate the SIM Card.

Make sure to turn on and off your phone several times when you first put the new SIM Card in your phone. (+ Also if you buy  EG SIM Card, you can find an application which helps you to activate and top-up your card.)E_AbouEGSIMCard

4. Recharge Your SIM Card

After using all the money you topped-up the first time, you can recharge the SIM Card. There are also many ways to recharge it.

First, go to the convenience store and ask the staff to recharge it for you. You don’t have to buy a new SIM Card. If you pay the money to the staff, he/she will give you a receipt with the numbers. You should call there to let them know you paid for recharging.

Second, directly call the SIM Card company to recharge it. However, you need to have an alien registration card to prove your identity. The SIM Card companies provide an English service.제목 없음

Third, use an App to recharge it. Follow the instructions on the App and you will be able to recharge the SIM Card easily.

The most frequently used SIM Card company is EG SIM Card. And this is the image of the application of EG SIM Card. Online purchase for EG Sim Card is available here.

If you want to buy not only a SIM Card but also a new phone, we recommend you to drop by Yongsan Digital Mall. On the 8the floor, there’s a store where you can buy a used phone or a new phone with a prepaid SIM Card.

Which SIM Card Should I Buy?

If you only need to use data and want to make voice calls, here’s a SIM Card that provides you 1GB of 3G data and voice calls. sim-card-mobile-data-voice-planFor those of you who want to get connected 24/7 in Korea with a data-only SIM card with an unlimited 4G LTE data usage, find more details here.sim-card-unlimitedThis Unlimited LTE Data Package is provided by the largest wireless operator in Korea, KT (Olleh). You can also share the internet connection with other devices via tethering.

If you are planning on staying in Korea for more than a month, then this long-term prepaid 4G-LTE SIM card is a better option.sim-card-90daysWith this SIM card plan, you can enjoy phone calls, text messages and 4G/LTE data for up to 90 days.

It’s highly recommended for long-term travelers as well as international students visiting Korea for an exchange program. The purchase is available here.

If you want to use Wi-Fi instead of a SIM Card

If you don’t have to make voice or phone calls or send text messages, then buying a WiFi Egg or a Wi-Fi router, is the best option for you. If you want to rent one, click here.portable-wifiRead more: SIM Card vs Wi-Fi Router: Which Mobile Internet Option Should You Use When Traveling in South Korea?

If you want to buy an Egg instead of renting it, you will need an alien registration card. It will be your ID card in Korea so it would be better to get your ID proved. Take a look at our tips on getting an alien card from our previous blog post here.

Find this blog helpful? Then stay tuned and follow this blog! Or visit Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, Trazy.com, for the most up-to-date travel information and destinations in South Korea.button31

38 comments

  1. Is there a pre-paid SIM card where the data is usable after the first 30 days unlike EG SIM? I travel to Korea several times a year and would prefer to not have to buy a card every time a I go.

    1. All the pre-paid SIM Cards have an expiration date, so you will have to buy the SIM Card every time you visit Korea. While the EG SIM Card can be used up to 30 days and is rechargeable, there is a prepaid 4-G LTE Data SIM Card, which is suitable for long-term foreign visitors to Korea, and you can use it up to 90 days after activation. Perhaps this can be a good option for you if you travel to Korea frequently. Please refer to the link for details: https://goo.gl/LOfZw0.

  2. Hi, I’m looking for a post paid SIM card that is less the 7,000won per month with 100mins of calls and 500mb of data. My Korean partner has one with annextel but it’s not available for foreigners. Are there options for us foreigners who want to live in Korea permanently?

  3. Hey! I will be going to Seoul shortly as an exchange student for four months. The 90 sim care you linked sounded ideal, however I will be in Korea for more than 90 days. Are there any other sim cards that you could recommend? I am mainly looking for data, yet messaging/call options would be great too! Thanks 🙂

    1. Hello Eloise! We believe that buying this long-term prepaid 4G-LTE Data SIM card is the best option since you are staying more than 90 days. 🙂 This one is catered to international students and long-term travelers staying in Korea, which allows you to make phone calls and use text messages and 4G/LTE data for up to 90 days. You can top up the balance at the customer center near Hongik University or any GS25, CU or 7-Eleven convenience stores around you. Since you are staying more than 90 days, you will have to extend the expiration date and you can do that by visiting the customer center with your alien registration card and change the SIM Card before the expiration date. The phone number will remain the same, so no worries. Hope this answers your question, and if you wish to make a purchase, here’s the link: https://www.trazy.com/experience/detail/prepaid-data-sim-card-international-student 🙂

  4. Hello,

    I’m planning to get the Prepaid 4G-LTE Data Sim Card for International Students. Can I check what do you mean by making sure the phone is unlocked? Personally I don’t have a passcode on my phone so is that ok?

    Also, I will be extending the usage to 120 days instead of the default 90 days. Can I ask at what additional price will the extension cost?

    Thanks 🙂

    1. Hello, Gynn Leow! Please refer to the below for your inquiries:
      1. Lock is meant to ensure that the phone can’t be used on any other operator’s network. If you would like to use your phone in other countries, you have to make sure your phone is a unlocked phone. You can simply check by calling the carrier in your home country and ask whether your phone is unlocked.
      2. To use the SIM card over 90 days, you have to visit the sim card office with an alien registration card. There will be an additional cost of 20,000 KRW for changing the registered information and extending the expiry date. Hope these answer your questions! 🙂

      1. Thanks for the reply.

        In my home country, I’m currently using a 4G plan with 4 GB data per month and did my calculations. Under the international plan, it is KRW 20.48/MB, that translates to KRW 20,480/GB.
        If I use my phone as per normal, I will use about 3.5 GB at the minimum. That means i’ll be paying KRW 71,680 to KRW 81,920 per month just for data.

        That is actually quite expensive! :O

        I would like to know if the KT operator has wireless that we can tap into throughout the country and not just in Seoul. Does the wireless extend to Busan, Jeju and the like? If it does, then I will be able to save on my 4G data usage.
        Thanks!

  5. Ok thank you for the reply!

    I do have one more question actually. This international student sim card does not have access to KT free wifi network, correct?
    What other plans are available that do have access to the KT free wifi network, then?

    I also saw on this website https://seoulsally.wordpress.com/tag/olleh/
    that says that you can get a prepaid LTE 2GB for 19,800 won which is alot cheaper than this international student one. So now I am abit uncertain about this.

    1. Hi Gynn Leow!
      Unfortunately, all the prepaid SIM cards on Trazy does not have access to KT free WiFi network. Also, regarding the article that you have mentioned, we doubt that the same SIM card plan is still available since the post was written in 2015. We recommend you to visit KT Olleh in Korea and get more detailed information. Instead, let me summarize the SIM cards on our website for you. Please take your time and compare with other SIM cards and choose the best one for you.
      1. Prepaid 4G-LTE Data SIM Card for International Students
      – It can be used up to 90 days after activation. (You can extend the days by visiting SIM card office with alien registration card)
      – 40,000 won balance is included in the price.
      – Rates:
      Local calls (dialing) – 1.98won/min
      Local SMS (sending) – 22won/message
      Receiving calls/SMS – free
      Data (4G LTE) – 20.48won/MB
      2. Unlimited 4G LTE Data Pacakge
      – You can choose between 5-day, 10-day, and 30-day option.
      – Enjoy unlimited data anywhere throughout Korea
      Hope this info helps! 🙂

      1. Hi Trazy crew!

        Thanks for writing up this blog post — definitely a life saver! 🙂 I will be studying for 3 months without an ARC. I am considering the 4G LTE SIM for International Students but am hesitant given I am a heavy data-consumer.

        Can I just clarify:
        For EG Sim Card and Unlimited 4G LTE Package options, there is a max of 1 SIM per person, with the longest time period being 30 days. Is it possible to recharge/renew for 3- 30-day SIMs, or are foreigners limited to 1- 30-day subscription?

        Thanks!

        1. Hello Vivian! Thank you for your compliment and we are glad that you find this post helpful. At any rate, regarding your question, the maximum days of use for our EG SIM Card (with a mobile data and voice plan only) and unlimited LTE Data Only SIM Card are 30 days. But whenever you recharge the EG SIM Card upon your need during 30-day period, you will be able to use it 30 days more per 10,000 KRW of recharge. However, we also have a 4G-LTE Data SIM Card for international students and long-term travelers, which can be used for up to 90 days. In terms of cost, we recommend you to purchase this SIM Card instead of purchasing one EG SIM Card ($23) or three 30-day Unlimited 4G LTE Data Only SIM Card (3 x $57 ea = $171) as it only costs $26 USD and already includes a balance of 40,000 KRW. You can top up this SIM Card upon your need during the 90-day period, but please do take note that since you don’t have an alien registration card you will not be able to extend the SIM Card when it expires. You can purchase the SIM Card for international students and find more info via this link: https://www.trazy.com/experience/detail/prepaid-data-sim-card-international-student Hope this answers your question! 🙂

  6. Hi. I’m actually leaving Korea with my Galaxy S 5. I was wondering if you sell phone cards and a sim card that I can use when I’m back in the US?

  7. HI THERE I JUST WANT TO ASK IF I GET THE UNLIMITED DATA ONLY SIM WILL I BE ABLE TO USE MY VIBER APP? JUST WONDERING BECAUSE I WILL BE NEEDING A KOREAN NUMBER AT THAT TO USE VIBER APP. NOT SURE THOUGH FOR ALL DATA SIM CARD. PLEASE HELP THANK YOU

    1. Hi memee manalo! The unlimited data only SIM Card does not provide you a local phone number, so in order to use Viber, we advise you to make the account and log in with your home country phone number first. Then, you will be able to use Viber with the data SIM Card you have purchased from us.

  8. hello, i was wondering. I have already owned a TP-Link 4G-LTE mobile wifi. I will be going for vacation with 2 friends for 5-6 days in Seoul. Will be going to Nami island and some other places not too far from Seoul. What is your recommendation and how can I do my reservation. thank you

  9. I am going to be in Korea for 30 days and I have a Iphone 7 Plus, which required a Nano Sim Card. Does the “Universal Sim Card” work on my phone?

    1. Hi, Heather Hong. All of the prepaid SIM Cards available on Trazy.com provide you with a universal type SIM, which is compatible with phones using standard, micro and nano SIM. If you are looking for a data-only SIM Card, you can purchase it via this link: https://www.trazy.com/experience/detail/korea-sim-card-unlimited-data. If you would like to make phone calls, send SMS and use data, this prepaid SIM Card is recommended: https://www.trazy.com/experience/detail/prepaid-data-sim-card-international-student. Hope this info helps! 🙂

  10. Hi there,

    I’ve just arrived in Korea and will be staying for a year. I already have an unlocked iPhone from South Africa and would like to buy a prepaid SIM card – that has a local number and data. Went into a few stores today and they weren’t able to assist. What would you suggest is the best option? Thanks!

    1. Hello Jenna! We recommend this Prepaid SIM Card that you can use up to 90 days, and it is the best for long-term travelers. You can make phone calls, text messages and use 4G/LTE data with this SIM Card. You can find more details or buy the SIM Card via this link: https://www.trazy.com/experience/detail/prepaid-data-sim-card-international-student. You can extend the expiration date for your SIM Card by visiting the customer center near Hongik University Station with your alien registration card. Hope this info helps! 🙂

  11. Hi there!
    Thank you so much for the comprehensive review but I have a few questions I hope you can help clarify! 🙂
    I am going on a summer exchange with a group of friends for ~35 days and I’m not sure which one of the two is the most cost effective option and I would love to hear your input!
    Do both the unlimited 4G SIM card and EG Prepaid card provide instant connection to wifi spots in Korea? (Which do not require constant logging in etc?) We are all generally heavy data users (esp on Facebook!), but with the various wifi hotspots in Seoul, the EG Prepaid card does seem like a cheaper alternative!
    Plus, we are expected to arrive at Incheon at 6am, and do you suggest purchasing it in Korea or purchase it before we arrive?
    Hope to hear a reply soon, and thanks again for clarifying all of my doubts!
    Sabrina
    (First timer in Korea!)

    1. Hi, thank you for contacting us.
      Here’s our comment for your questions.
      1. With EG Sim Card, you can use free wifi service from KT (Olleh). However if you use data constantly, it will be much convenient for you to use Unlimited Data Sim Card. The speed of 4G data is 5mbps and it will be suitable for your daily usage.
      2. If you would like to purchase the sim card at a discounted price on Trazy, please complete the payment in advance.
      We hope this answers your question. If you need further assistance, please let us know 🙂
      Thank you.

  12. Hi
    I’m going for a 12 days trip to both Busan and Seoul in July. May I ask if the unlimited data SIM card is still available to date? My friends are now in Seoul and they went to visit the booth at the INC airport but they told me that there were no data-only sim cards available.

    Also, I have an iPhone 6S – how do I check if it is locked? Previously I went to Bangkok and I managed to change to their local sim card.

    Thank you.

  13. when using a sim card purchased in korea for the duration of your visit (i.e. 30 days), do they supply a local (korean) number (i.e. 010-xxxx-xxxx) or do i continue to use my phone number from home? and if so, does that mean people in korea has to dial my foreign number to reach me even though i am in korea?

    1. Hello esbyly, you will be provided with a local Korean phone number if you purchase our “Korea SIM Card – Mobile Data (3G data) & Voice Plan (www.trazy.com/experience/detail/510)” or “Prepaid 4G/LTE Data Sim Card: 90 Days or More (www.trazy.com/experience/detail/1575)”. Please make sure to purchase either two as there is a “data-only” SIM Card as well, such as “Korea Sim Card – Unlimited 4G/LTE Data Package (www.trazy.com/experience/detail/1109),” with which you can only use data and are unable make or receive any calls. Hope this answers your question!:)

  14. I’m looking to stay in Seoul for 14 days. Unlimited data sim is ideal for me, but it jumps from 10 day to 30 day plan. Is there a way to get a 14 day plan? Or would I be able to get both a 10 day unlimited sim and a 5 day unlimited sim, but activate my 5 day sim after I finish up 10 days?

    1. Hello kitkat671! If you are staying in Korea for 14 days, we highly recommend you to purchase 1 (one) 10-day SIM Card and 1 (one) 5-day SIM Card to save the money. 🙂
      However, only 1 (one) Sim Card can be purchased per person due to policy.

      Therefore, in this case, you will first have to make your reservation for the 10-day SIM Card (Select “Incheon Airport”) and then purchase the 5-day SIM Card (Select “Hongik University Station Office”) on any date before the first 10-day SIM Card gets expired.

      *You will be given a manual from Hongik University Station branch so that you can activate the sim card on your own.
      *For details on pick-up locations, please click this link: http://www.trazy.com/experience/detail/1109

  15. I plan to go to Korea for 14 days. Unlimited data plan is ideal, however, it jumps from 10 day plan to 30 day plan. Would I be able to purchase both a 10 day unlimited sim and 5 day unlimited sim, but activate the 5 day unlimited sim after my 10 days are up?

    1. Hello katbayson! If you are staying in Korea for 14 days, we highly recommend you to purchase 1 (one) 10-day SIM Card and 1 (one) 5-day SIM Card to save the money. 🙂
      However, only 1 (one) Sim Card can be purchased per person due to policy.

      Therefore, in this case, you will first have to make your reservation for the 10-day SIM Card (Select “Incheon Airport”) and then purchase the 5-day SIM Card (Select “Hongik University Station Office”) on any date before the first 10-day SIM Card gets expired.

      *You will be given a manual from Hongik University Station branch so that you can activate the sim card on your own.
      *For details on pick-up locations, please click this link: http://www.trazy.com/experience/detail/1109

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