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seoul wifi zone

Source: Seoulistic.com

Seoul has one of the highest broadband penetration rate in the world, not to mention one of the world’s fastest broadband connections. The government has invested millions of dollars to boost its infrastructure to provide free WI-FI to its citizen. Enough though it is indeed true that free internet may be dispersed throughout Seoul, the connection will cease when you start walking and move away from the cafe or WIFI-zone. As such, for many of us who are so attached to Facebook or Instagram, it would be difficult not to immediately share the beautiful holiday pictures with friends who are back at home! We shall explore the possible options for wireless internet access in this post.

1. Local SIM Card

Having a local SIM card is probably one of the best options available in the market since you will be constantly connected to the internet. Of course, there is always a hassle of changing your SIM cards and storing your existing one in a safe place. Not to mention that you may potentially miss important phone calls from Singapore – which is probably not a bad thing since you have to pay roaming charges just to pick up those calls.

egsimOne of the more popular choices amongst foreign visitors to South Korea is EG SIM Card, which has an english website that is very user-friendly. What I would recommend is to order the SIM card online before you fly, and arrange to collect it at the airport when you arrive. You need to pay 20000 KRW for the SIM card + 9900 KRW for Nano or 5500 KRW for standard or Micro-SIM. That means 29900 KRW for the Nano-sim or 25,500 KRW for standard or Micro-sim. I would recommend collecting from “K Books” which is found on 1F at Incheon International Airport (0700-2000 Mon-Sun) once you touch down since you get to use the SIM card on the go! An alternative is for it to be delivered to your hotel (at no additional cost) but that means you ought to know where your hotel is and do not get lost in the meantime!

Updated Feb 16: The collection of Sim card from the K Book Store near Exit 7 of Level 1 is no longer available as it had been replaced by another new bookstore. The new collection point is at Counter 45 between exits 8 & 9 of level 1.

Once you have the SIM card, then it’s time to subscribe to a plan using your stored value of 20000 KRW. Since 1GB costs 16500 KRW and 500mb 11000 KRW, it makes more sense to get the former just in case you end up using more data than you planned to. A good news is that if you subscribe to either of these plans, once you turn on your WIFI, you automatically get connected to Olleh WIFI when a hotspot is available and you can surf using WIFI and save on your data! Surprisingly, Olleh WIFI is available everywhere – even in the train! Last but not least, the validity of the SIM card is for 30 days, so it is useful for those who are travelling for long periods of time so as to reduce the average cost per day.

To recharge the card, simply do it online using your credit card. All instructions available on the website.

2. Olleh/KT WIFI Egg

ollehegg

If you are travelling in a big group of up to 5 people, then getting a WIFI egg will be a cheaper option. At 8000 KRW/day, it gets cheaper from the 11th day on with a massive discount of 50%! Of course, do take note of its coverage in the map below. I thought the egg was spoilt when I was in Paju visiting the DMZ, only to find that it worked fine once back in Seoul! So if it’s just the two of you travelling for 7 days, then it will still be cheaper to get the WIFI egg and share rather than get 2 separate SIM cards. However, do note that you need to place a deposit of 200,000 KRW when you book an egg. More information is available on their website here, and collection/drop-off is also at Incheon Airport which is a breeze.

eggcoverage

 

3. Olleh WIFI Prepaid Cardollehwifi

If you are not keen to spend that much on a WIFI egg or SIM card, then this is a cheaper alternative. As mentioned previously, the Olleh WIFI is available almost everywhere in the city – much more than the free WIFI that you can leech on to. And at 3300 KRW per day, it is a  much cheaper option compared to buying a buy of coffee just to use the free WIFI in the cafe. For more information, check out the website here

 

4.Free WIFI using Boingo for American Express Platinum members

At the beginning of December, I covered an article on the free Boingo WIFI service provided for all American Express (AMEX) Platinum members. Using the app provided, it appears that there are many hotspots in Seoul. I have personally yet to use this service, but visitors to Seoul who are not willing to pay for the above mentioned services should consider activating this service if possible and keep it as a backup!

Amex Boingo

5. Free City WIFI

If you are not that hardcore, and are comfortable with using your hotel/hostel WIFI and some free WIFI here and there, then do check out Seoulistic’s list of free WIFI here

 

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25 Responses to The Cheaponana’s Guide to Seoul, South Korea Part 4 – Should I get a local SIM card, WIFI egg or none?

  1. William says:

    If you get an EG SIM card, can you use your phone as a hotspot?

  2. Chubbypies says:

    Hi, thanks for the informative post! However, I’m still confused over the cost of using the EG SIM card.

    So when you said to use the stored value of 20,000krw to pay for the 500mb/1gb data, what happens to the remainder? Say I want the 1GB (16,500krw) data, am I just paying 20,000krw + 9,900krw (for Nano SIM card), or I have to pay an extra 16,500krw? If it’s the first option, what happens to the 3,500krw remaining from the 20,000krw I paid as the “stored value”?

    Also, the 1GB is for each day or for the total of my stay (until I finish it)? I have seen some sites claiming the 1GB is for one day’s usage so I’m pretty confused about it as well.

    Thanks so much for putting up a post for this. I have been looking everywhere for it 🙂

    Cheers!

    • Cheaponana says:

      Hi there!
      Thanks for reading my posts 🙂
      Regarding your questions, the 20000 KRW is prepaid value, meaning that you can either use it as per minute call or sms or per mb data or use it as a package (which would be cheaper of course). The 1gb package at 165000 KRW is preferred as it is more value for money. The remainder is for you to spend for calls or sms or data if you run out of the allocated 1gb data plan.

      1gb data allowance per day is unimaginable…no telco would allow such a money losing venture 🙂 It should be valid for 30 days if I remember correctly, but for a typical stay of 1-2 weeks should be more than sufficient since you would be using WIFI more often than not.

  3. William says:

    OK, so I used an EG SIM for my last three week trip to Korea a couple months ago.

    Overall, I was satisfied in that the prices were (relatively) reasonable, but there were some issues.

    The first is that I did not get LTE service at all, despite making sure I had a phone that supported the LTE bands in Korea for KT. Ultimately, for me, it wasn’t a dealbreaker, since I mainly wanted to use it as a hotspot for my US cellphone to look things up online. I wasn’t streaming video or anything, so it was usable.

    The second is that if you use the EG SIM card for voice calls or texts, you will eat through the 20,000 KRW pretty quickly. Their rate page [ http://www.egsimcard.co.kr/eng/about-eg-sim-card/charges.asp ] shows that they charge 4 KRW/sec for voice calls. Yes, PER SECOND. So a 5-minute phone call will cost you 1,320 KRW. Here’s the crazy part: that same page shows that an international call to the US costs 165 KRW per minute. So unless I’m reading that page wrong (which is entirely possible), EG actually charges more to call a domestic Korean number than to call an international US, Chinese, Canadian, etc..number. Text messages are also 22 KRW for every 160 characters, so you’ll eat up that money quickly too.

    The third thing was the most annoying; recharging was more of a pain than it needed to be. Aside from the fact that EG’s app is horribly outdated, buying the recharge at a convenience store was a huge pain. Most of the time, the clerks had no idea how to do it, even when I showed them the little slip of paper with instructions in Korean that EG provides. I even spent 15 minutes one time trying to show the clerk how to do it on their own computer system. Once you get the receipt with the code, using the outdated app was an exercise in patience.

    All that said, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that any remaining balance actually carries over and stays with the SIM card for several months. So when I go back to Korea in the next month or two, I can have the same phone number and essentially just pick up where I left off. I do believe there was a minimum balance requirement for that to happen, but I don’t remember the details. Their customer service was excellent though; just call the phone number they give you in the packet (it’s also on their website).

    • Cheaponana says:

      Thanks William for your feedback!
      During my previous trip, I had LTE service, but most of the time, I was connected to WIFI which was very fast and definitely not an issue at all.

      And I guess you are right regarding the local call service! Suppose most people use this prepaid card for data, so probably this is a means for them to earn money since the younger generation will be using the data service to make free calls using various apps anyway.

      I hope the credit remains on your SIM card for your next trip! Most of them last for 6 months or so, but I was unable to find the exact details on EG’s website. Really appreciate you sharing your experiences with fellow readers!

      • William says:

        My parents are still big on phone calls, so when I visit them in Korea, I talk to them mostly on the phone. Granted, it’s not for long periods of time, but it’s at least 5-10 minutes a day. Which is why I had to reload about 3 times, between the phone calls and texts with them and other friends in Korea.

        It still boggles my mind that it’s cheaper to call internationally than domestically…?!?

        Yeah, I hope the credit remains on my account too; I think I had about 40,000 KRW so it would suck to lose that if I was either wrong or misinformed.

        And I’m glad to share my experiences; hopefully it helps somebody!

  4. jane says:

    Hi, if just 2 of us travelling to seoul for 14 days, which one is a better and cheaper option ? wifi egg ? cause i see that for 11-20 days is only 2000won/day and both of us will be able to use which mean 1000won each.

    Do you think the wifi egg is usable even at Yongpyong Ski Resort ?

    please correct me if i understood wrongly. haha.

    Also, the wifi egg deposit of 200,000 krw will be returned back to us after we return the wifi egg back to them right ?

    Last time when i was in seoul we each bought a EG sim card so was thinking if wifi egg will be our cheaper bet from what you have posted. 🙂

    hear from you soon. thanks

    • Cheaponana says:

      Hi Jane,
      I think there’s been some change to the charges when I checked out the website for the wifi egg. Now they charge 5000 won/day for the rental of the set, and the 2000 won/day is waived if you reserve the set online, meaning you pay 5000 won/day for 2 people. I would recommend the egg for larger groups, and for the ski resort, you have to check out the map for the coverage (sorry havent been there before!). As a safer option, I would go for the sim card. Of cos, if you wanna save, there’s always an option to buy one sim card first and set up a personal hotspot and share the connection (it worked previously, not sure about now).

      • jane says:

        is the EG sim card reusable ? i got mine 2 years back. only that data have all been expired. cause i login to the site, i am able to top up the data. but im not sue if the card can still be use or not.

  5. Jo says:

    Hi there,
    Thanks for the post, however I was wondering if you could advise me on a question that I have.

    Ill be heading to Korea in a couple of weeks to study for about 6 months (probably more but thats the plan right now). I plan on bringing my unlocked iphone to use over there and was wondering if you could advise me on whether going with the EG sim card or the KT Olleh Sim card. I rented this egg the last time i was there, but that was just for a week so the egg did just fine. I know about the convenience of getting the EG sim card and have it ready for when you get to Inchon but do you if you can recharge your sim card through phone or something easier than having to go to a convenience store to do it? I feel that with the KT Olleh sim card, that process might be easier? maybe?
    Also, doing some research I found something called saykimchi. Would you advise on maybe using that type of sim card?

    Thanks!

  6. sallieshim says:

    Hi, I’ve only been seeing EG Sim cards and Olleh wifi prepaid cards being commonly used. I will be staying in korea for 6 months and am interested in getting a prepaid card. I use mostly data and very rarely use text or call.

    I’ve calculated and realised EG and Olleh is kinda expensive for the duration of my stay and instead found SK telecom roaming to be cheaper. I’ve attached the link to their rates and all:
    skroaming.com/usim/advance_payment.asp

    Looking at the ‘Recharge Amount’ table, i would definitely get the KRW30,000 for voice & text services recharged since it would last me 180 days (whole duration of my stay). And I would get the KRW33,000 for 5GB of data that allows me use for 1 whole year. I would top up ofcourse whenever necessary.

    But i’m then confused as there is another table showing Rate Plan with different plans.. What is that about?? Can i get the CHEAPEST which is PPS Smartphone Light and do the normal recharge thing? I don’t get it. Or can i just get a SIM card and do the recharge amount plan?

  7. Jan Piet Hein says:

    I would not recommend EGSIM. When you enter the country you need to go through a whole identification process, when you leave the country they know and will immediately disable the sim. Your cash balance will be gone. Aside from the point, it is way more expensive and a hassle. It is just spooky that they track when you leave the country. Also be aware that without a wifi you are not able to activate the card. You also need to provide them a photocopy of your passport. So a whole hassle, better ask your local telco for a datapackage for Korea. That was at least my experience.

    • William says:

      “When you enter the country you need to go through a whole identification process, when you leave the country they know and will immediately disable the sim. Your cash balance will be gone.”

      You can order the SIM online and have it waiting for you at the kiosk inside the arrivals terminal at Incheon. All you have to do is show your passport to the EG SIM representative to get the SIM card. They do not disable the SIM or take your cash balance. When you add cash to your balance, it shows you the expiration date, which seems to be about 8-11 months later; I was in Korea last November and when I added cash to my balance, the expiration date was for July of this year. I was in Korea earlier this month and my current expiration date for the balance on my account is January of next year. And the balance from last year I had in my account was still there and active when I arrived in Korea last month; I just turned on my phone with the EG SIM card in it and was able to make calls immediately.

      “Also be aware that without a wifi you are not able to activate the card.”

      Not true at all. In fact, they actually recommend you turn off wifi in order to activate the SIM card.

  8. JN says:

    You will be able to find only KT Mmobile SIM card in Incheon Int’l Airport(at the CU convenience store). More reasonable than EG SIM. For example, It is same that you can use 1GB data in KRW 29,900. But you can call 275 min. to US by KT Mmobile. by EG SIM? You cannot.

    • William says:

      “You will be able to find only KT Mmobile SIM card in Incheon Int’l Airport(at the CU convenience store). More reasonable than EG SIM. For example, It is same that you can use 1GB data in KRW 29,900. But you can call 275 min. to US by KT Mmobile. by EG SIM? You cannot.”

      Completely not true.

      -I picked up my EG SIM card at Incheon. They have their own desk/kiosk in the arrivals terminal.

      -1GB of data with EG SIM is ₩16,500, not ₩29,900.

      -You can absolutely make international calls with EG SIM. Calls to the US are ₩150 per minute, so it’s not free or anything, but you definitely can make calls. I don’t know where the 275 minute limit for KT is coming from, but with EG SIM, there is no limit. Just a per minute charge. http://www.egsimcard.co.kr/eng/buy-eg-sim-card/charges.asp

  9. Jacqueline chua says:

    Hi, would like to know for boingo, is it very easy to have Wifi access? Am thinking of getting it for a month because pricing is the best.

    • Cheaponana says:

      Hi it’s worth a try if it’s free and if you are at a cafe, but otherwise if you are on the go, then it’s not worth it

  10. Joan says:

    Hi!
    I’m staying for a month in Korea and from what I just understood is that it’s cheaper and better for me to buy the sim because if you buy the sim you’ll get access to the free Olleh wifi that’s pretty much everywhere and since I have an iphone I can just use my FaceTime audio to call to the US or any country because it’s through the internet.

    So, I just need to buy the sim and the 1GB data to be able to access the free Olleh wifi everywhere right?

    If thats a yes then it’ll only cost me 46500 KRW! 😀

    Also, I heard from my friend that it’s cheaper if a Korean Local bought the sim an plan? I don’t know if it’s true

    • Cheaponana says:

      Dear Joan,
      Yes it is cheaper if you are korean, as there are other options available that are not written in english. Do note that the free Olleh wifi has a lot of hotspots but you need to go near them (e.g. subway or the convenience stores) before you can tap onto the WIFI

  11. Bobby says:

    Looking at the EG website linked in the post I can see an option for Saving Plan or Basic Plan.

    The Saving Plan sounds like what you mention? It is 20,000 plus 5000 for a nano sim. However, the information says only 15,000 is ‘free balance’. So it sounds like this is not enough to put on the 1GB package anymore since that costs 16,500. Or does ‘free balance’ mean something different?

    The Basic Plan which includes the 1GB of data costs 30,000 plus 5000 for the nano sim.

  12. cheryl says:

    Hi, any idea if this EG SIM can use in juju and busan?

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