Who can live without a cell phone these days? Without one is like being disconnected from the world. That’s why before coming to Korea to teach English, obtaining a cell phone was on my priority list. There are several routes one may take to obtain one. Before I go over each one, I’d like to go over the requirements and a few differences between American and Korean mobile plans.
Whereas American mobile providers charge for incoming and outgoing calls, Korea only charges for outgoing calls. Any incoming calls will not be chargeable or use minutes. Same goes for texts. All incoming texts are free. Also, not all data plans are unlimited. There are plans that give a set amount of data one can download or upload. Thereafter, the provider will start charging additional. On the bright side, especially in the cities of Korea, Wi-Fi is widely available, even on the subway. Wi-Fi = free data = free internet. It may be a smart idea to purchase a cell phone with good Wi-Fi capabilities.
The one and only requirement to get a cell phone in Korea is that you must have an Alien Registration Card (ARC). It can take up to 3 weeks to get an ARC upon arrival. If you can’t wait that long, here are several solutions.
The quickest way to get your hands on a cell phone is at the airport right after you get off the plane. This is not the most convenient and efficient choice though. I’ve heard people pay up to $9 a day for this service. As you can see this is not a long-term solution.
Another option is to purchase a cell phone and plan through The Arrival Store. They offer limited plans and selection that one may choose from. Recently, they added smart phones to the selection. If you order in advance, the cell/smart phone can be ready as soon as you arrive at your hotel.
If you have friends or family in Korea, another option is asking one of them to open a cell/smart phone for you under their name. Depending on the mobile service provider, you may switch it to your name after six months or so. Make sure there isn’t a name transfer fee.
If none of these options work out, there’s nothing you can do but wait for your ARC. When that day comes, I’m sure you’ll be very excited to be reconnected to the world.
There are three major cell phone providers in Korea. Look for SK Telecom, Olle, or OZ.
Yoon escaped from Los Angeles, California after finding himself hating his job at the bank. Knowing of opportunities to teach English in Korea, he took this chance to take on the excitement of living in a foreign country. Thankfully, Aclipseplaced him at a great Chungdahm branch in Jamsil. He is enjoying almost every moment of it and would like to share his experience with you through his blog.