The mobile industry is huge in Korea! Almost everyone has a smartphone and uses their device for communication, entertainment, navigation, education shopping and saving. Since living in Korea I have downloaded so many helpful apps that the whole population uses on a daily basis. Here are some of the apps I would recommend downloading and using if you are living or planning on moving to Korea.
KakaoTalk is an instant messaging app and if you are planning on teaching in Korea, you will undoubtedly need to download it. All Korean’s use this app to communicate with each other. The app is so popular that it has rendered texting unnecessary. The app’s personalized emoticons are very well known throughout the population and have become characters or mascots in people’s everyday lives. The app allows you to send messages, pictures, and videos. You can also make calls and a map navigation feature as well. The app is free to download and also is not limited to a mobile device. Once you’ve made an account on KakaoTalk you can download the program onto your computer and sign in with your email address too continue messaging your contacts both locally in Korea and long distance contacts back home for free!
KakaoTalk logo and emoji characters
- Google Translate
I use the Google Translate app on a daily basis. You often find that public signs such as road names or addresses are printed in both English and Hangul, but at small establishments, especially restaurants, the signs and menus are mostly in Hangul. This is where the Google Translate app becomes extremely helpful. Its best feature, in my opinion, is its picture translation ability. This feature allows you take a picture of Hangul text and the app translates phrases once you’ve highlighted certain portions of the text. I found this feature immensely helpful when I was trying to use the washing machine for the first time, or when I was trying to turn the heat up in my apartment. It is also very useful in restaurants when there are no pictures. The app also has a drawing feature where you can use your finger as a pen and draw the characters you need translated. Google Translate also has a speech translating feature. Overall, if you are coming to Korea not knowing any Hangul I would recommend downloading the Google Translate app.
Google Translate, picture translation and drawing feature
- Subway Korea
If you are planning to live in a city and make use of public transportation, the Korea Subway app is a must have. I had to download it my first week during training for commuting between the hotel and the training center. It is really simple to use and is offered in English as well. The app offers the metro maps for all the major cities in Korea. The maps are up to date and update themselves continuously. Not only can you select a departure and arrival location and receive the train schedules, but if you require a transfer, the app will also provide what car number and exit number you should take to allow for the quickest transfer. In Busan there are only 4 subway lines so mastering the system did not take too long.In Seoul however, there are 18 lines and many intersect and veer off to become new lines. Using the Korea Subway app was hugely helpful when living in and visiting Seoul and using the metro line system here in Busan.
Korea Subway app - Busan metro
- G Market
G Market is one of Korea’s biggest e-commerce marketplaces. It started out as only an online domain but has recently become available on mobile devices too. The G market app is offered in English and is really simple to use. They sell a wide range of products from apparel, accessories, shoes, beauty products, baby and maternity goods, food, even fresh produce, furniture, bedding, home and kitchen products and appliances, electronics, books, music and even stationary. All the goods on G Market are priced competitively. You can pay for your order by connecting your Korean debit card to your account on the app! One of the best things about G Market is that delivery is free and your order usually arrives between 24-72 hours. If you purchase food that needs refrigerating they package it in a cooler so it doesn’t go bad if you are out when the delivery is made. G Market also has a free return policy. I have saved a lot of money through buying items on G Market.
GMarket home screen and categories
- McDonalds Korea
An infamous Korean McDonalds delivery service. This app allows you to press a button on your phone and have a Big Mac in your hands less than 30 minutes later. This app is dangerously convenient.
McDonalds app home screen and tracking feature
One of the best things about using these apps has been that they are all free and easy to use! They have made my transition to moving to Korea a lot simpler!