I’ve been doing research on the various ways one can connect to the internet in S Korea. Seems like it’s a piece of cake, since according to many, there are so many wifi hotspots and internet speeds are one of the best in Korea. Excellent. My problem now is which service to choose?
I’m not doing a review, since I haven’t used any, but I’m going to list the pros and cons from my research, in case it helps any one who might want to travel to Korea and use them too.
It seems like there’s 2 main options, other than using roaming from your current service provider (Which is going to be insane)
1) Getting a sim card / Renting a phone/ tablet
<– this constitutes to using a brand new phone altogether, hence I will classify them as one.
- Pros: affordable, stable + has a data and voice plan for local calls, mobility – data on the go
- Cons: Brand new number, limited data service, not sure if your personal settings (internet accounts logged out, bookmarks missing, contact book) will be affected, some phones have service provider locks on them, preventing use of new SIM cards, if you install anti theft softwares, it may think your phone got stolen and send panic messages etc.
It’s for foreigners only. The costs of the cards are reasonably cheap, and you can have several options. There are offices from which you can purchase the cards from, including Incheon airport, Seoul subway interchange, myeongdong etc. You can even purchase it online and have it sent to your hotel. They have a facebook page, in English, mandarin.
Why I’m not getting it:
I hate to change sim cards. Just thinking about it, makes me imagine the scenario of dropping my sim card into a drain to be washed away forever..no. #paranoia Even if it’s not going to drop into some drain, I don’t want my phone to lock on me. I think I have Avast anti theft on, there are settings to either wipe my phone’s data or send messages should my Sim card change on me. Too risky.
Plus, I think you’re subject to the lucky draw of ‘it may or may not work’. You need to preregister for the service.. using some software first, and have an unlocked phone. Which if you want to check you need an IMEI look up service, your phone’s IMEI number to see if it’s locked or not. Also, I’ve read accounts of people having problems with the service. They buy the sim, but nobody could help them connect to the service provider. Or the card simply does not arrive on time, despite waiting for a while, until their trip is over, and they can’t get a refund. Horror.
2) Using wifi
- Pros: Unlimited data usage, can use your smartphones as per normal, you can use wifi with plane mode turned on. Can make calls via skype or LINE, katalk?
- Cons: Limited to hot spots (unless you get something like a portable wifi hotspot), not so good for places with poor signals, gotta keep signing in, can’t make domestic or international calls.
Option: Olleh Wifi Egg
The premise seems good. You rent an egg, unlimited wifi data. 5 people can connect to the device, more days used, discounts will be given. 4G speeds. Collectable at airports. Yay.
Why I’m not getting it:
Expensive. I am going alone, and it’s going to cost 8000won a day = $9.20 a day. Seems fine until I calculate the total number of days (full week) = 65 bucks. Woah. Plus, I need a credit card to put a deposit on the egg. If not it’s 200,000won cash. Who travels and leaves a deposit of cash till the end of the trip? 이게 말이 되요? Plus I found out the egg needs to be charged. It’s not a super egg. What. Not only I have to worry about charging my battery eater S3 phone, I still need to babysit this egg? It’s not so unlimited come to think of it. This device would be better for people who can share the costs. But this device can only connect to 1 user at a time. Haha. You have to log out before the next person can log in. And you have to return the damn egg. which puts a damper on people who may not use the egg for so many days but have to buy the extra days rental because they aren’t able to return the egg. And you have to reserve the egg.
OPTION 2: Free Wifi Hotspots
Excellent. Leeching off other people’s internet. Most cafes provide them anyway, so it’s not really leeching.
Why I’m not going to use this fully:
I intend to visit and cafe hop. This seems to suit exactly my needs. Plus, I can charge my phone at their sockets.. MUST READ <Seoulistic – chargers everywhere>. The bad thing is that I’m stuck to that location. And I can’t use the internet on the go, or on subways. You may be able to leech free internet from anywhere, but it will depend on your luck. Plus, if you have to buy a drink everytime you wanna use wifi, it’s like using a wifi egg.
Although, you can check this out for some default passwords! http://seoulistic.com/quick-tip/how-to-get-free-wifi-anywhere-in-korea-2/
OPTION 3: Prepaid Olleh Wifi Zone
Foreigner friendly. The website comes in the basic Eng, Jp, Chinese language. This card/pin numbers can be purchased at convenience stores. The price is fairly cheap, it comes in 1 hour and 1 day version (nobody goes for 1 hour, unless it’s emergency?) I can use this and stand outside buildings to use the internet without having to go into a cafe and get a drink.. and even on subways. Gosh.
I would say this is a happy compromise. I can choose to use wifi on days I want. Note though, I read a limitation from a chinese post:
She says that she bought the one day wifi access to try it out, and truth to be told, the olleh wifi signals can be found everywhere. Though there’s a troublesome point about this.. that is you have to constantly log in all the time. You could be at Starbucks using the wifi, and if you simply move to a nearby spot, you’ll leave the wifi area. Even if there is another wifi signal at the shop next door, it doesn’t track your movements. You’ll have to re-log in. So it’s best if you don’t move too much with this service, and walk and stop and walk and stop. Even when you’re using chat apps like LINE or app notifications, you need to pause at areas with wifi hotspots before being able to use those services..
And here’s a japanese blog showing you how to use the receipt version (haven’t yet seen anyone using the card one)
I also read that sometimes the name you have to create a very english sounding name in case the website thinks your name is too asian. lol