Before I came to South Korea, I was part of a proud and noble group of people, stubborn in our ways, desperately clinging to our beliefs, even as the steady march of modernization threatened our way of life. I, along with many senior citizens, was a member of the smart phone-less community. I was quite satisfied with my “dumb-phone,” even if my friends mocked it and ridiculed its lack of capabilities. But of course, with the highest percentage of smart-phone owners in the world, eventually even I had to join the sheeple and buy a Galaxy S5. As I predicted, I became quite addicted to it, and even now spend too much time aimlessly perusing Reddit or checking fantasy football. As an ex-pat living in South Korea, there are a few apps that certainly make your life easier. Let’s go through some, shall we?
KakaoTalk is a messaging app that is quite popular here in South Korea, and is used by literally everyone I know in this country that has a smart phone. It is so prevalent here that most of my friends here use Kakao as a verb, similar to the usage of the term “Googled” in many parts of the world. I don’t really feel the need to explain it anymore, since it is a pretty straightforward app, so I won’t waste your time or my word count on it anymore.
The inner fat kid rejoiced at the discovery of Yogiyo, the magical food delivery app that puts an endless supply of food at your fingertips. All you need to know really is your address, and maybe a bit of Korean knowledge so you actually know what you are ordering. You don’t want to order food thinking you paid for dalkgalbi when you actually bought some Korean food abomination (I’m looking at you, new Pizza Hut Star Edge Pizza!).
These two handy apps are essential for travel both within Korean cities and between them. Jihacheol means subway in Korean for those of you who are curious, and it is a simple app with the subway lines of Seoul, Busan, Daejeon, Gwangju, and Daegu. Simply click on your starting subway stop and destination, and you can find out not only what transfers you have to make, but also exact subway arrival times.
Korail is another great travel app used for purchasing train tickets in advance, instead of doing it in person at the train station. It is pretty simple to use, but if tackling the Korean proves too large a task, there are guides online to help the hapless foreigner navigate the app.
4. Daum Maps
I only discovered this app a few months ago, but I must say it is far superior to Google Maps, at least in this country. Daum boasts an awesome street view function much like Google Maps, but its information on public transportation and travel times is where it truly shines. Daum will tell you in real-time when the next bus is arriving at your stop, and will take traffic conditions into account when giving you an estimate on travel time. This comes in handy whenever I need to make the decision between taking the subway or snagging a taxi for the ride to World Cup Stadium for Citizen games.
There are obviously a myriad of Korean language learning apps, but personally I prefer Memrise. It is excellent for quickly improving your vocabulary, and I definitely recommend it to help give your learning a little boost. Honestly, if I spent as much time on this app as I do on Reddit, I would probably be fluent by now.
Patrick Sheridan grew up in the quiet suburbs outside of Boston but always knew he wanted to explore the world. Studying abroad in Denmark while attending Elon University did not satisfy this desire, so after graduating in 2012 he decided to join Chungdahm Learning and teach English in South Korea. He loves wandering through the various neighborhoods of his city Daejeon, sampling random back-alley restaurants and attempting to communicate with the locals in his horribly broken Korean. He embraces everything Korean and looks forward to seeing everything South Korea has to offer.