Whether you’re planning a short-term or long-term stay in South Korea, you’ll want to get your hands on a SIM card as soon as possible after arriving. 

Depending on the length of your stay, there are 3 major carriers in Korea: SK Telecom (T World), KT (Olleh), and LG U+. In addition, there are MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) that offer SIM cards that utilize the major carrier network to offer service. 

We will discuss your options for SIM cards in Korea as well as the plans and where you can buy them!

Recommended types

Since postpaid mobile phone contracts require a residence card, it is much easier to get a prepaid SIM card when you first arrive in Korea. There are many providers that offer a variety of plans that can cater to your data or phone usage. Many prepaid SIM cards are offered by MVNOs. The major carriers may also offer prepaid SIM cards however, their terms of use may be stricter than the MVNOs.

Be careful with prepaid SIM cards as many have a fixed usage length which cannot be changed. If you wish to use a prepaid SIM continually, be sure to pick a provider that offers a monthly rechargeable SIM plan.

Visa holders are welcome to sign up for a postpaid mobile phone contract once you have a residence card.

Plan types

There are many different types of plans offered for service. Let’s dive into prepaid and postpaid plans.

Prepaid plans in Korea

Most prepaid plans offer a fixed amount of data, with calling and SMS messaging as an extra charge or included. Many recent plans may have a fixed amount of high speed data (5G or LTE) and after this allowance is used, data access is still allowed at a slower speed (Throttled). Some MVNOs also allow access to the major carrier’s Wi-Fi access points in public areas like the subway.

A typical prepaid plan may include the following:

5 GB of high speed data + 100 minutes (Calling and SMS use minutes). 30 day usage period. KRW 60,000 (Retail).

Note that with a prepaid SIM, if you wish to continue to use it, you will need to recharge it usually monthly. The payment is not automatic. You can recharge it using the provider’s app or website. 

If you are done with using the SIM card, you can simply throw it away. The line will be deactivated or reassigned within 3 days of your usage expiring.

Postpaid plans in Korea

For postpaid plans, calling and SMS messaging is normally unlimited and included while the amount of data varies. Similarly, you may receive a fixed amount of data at high speed with data afterwards throttled to a slower speed. Most postpaid plans also allow you to tether other devices to share your data connection with your laptop or tablet for example. The postpaid plans will also include a membership that gives discounts to various retailers as well as access to the carrier’s Wi-Fi access points. You may qualify for discounts if you stay with the same carrier long-term.

A typical postpaid contract may include the following:

Unlimited 5G data + Unlimited Calling and SMS + 15 GB tethering data. Usually a 1-year or  2-year contract is the minimum period. KRW 85,000 per month (Retail).

Payment is usually automatic each month and tied to your bank account or debit/credit card. If you wish to cancel or end your contract, you need to contact your carrier directly. Please note that early termination may result in fees or penalties. Your contract will automatically renew unless you cancel it manually.

Once you cancel the contract, you can simply throw away the SIM.

Where to buy a SIM card in Korea?

There are various plans to buy SIM cards in Korea. 

  • Airports
  • Convenience stores
  • Major carrier stores
  • Online

Don’t know which SIM to purchase? Go! Go! Hanguk can help you with a prepaid SIM card! The SIM is offered through a popular MVNO that uses KT Olleh’s network. The SIM includes unlimited calling and SMS as well as offers high speed data access. We can have it arranged for delivery to your accommodations in Korea as well! While there are many options for mobile phone service in Korea, it is easy to obtain it once you arrive! Contact Go! Go! Hanguk for more information or if you wish to receive a prepaid SIM for when you live and study in Korea.

If you want to learn more about life in Korea, check out our other blog articles with updates.