Making Phone Calls In Korea, To Korea, Or From Korea. Bachelors Degree And Batteries Not Included.
One of the most important questions people coming to Korea have asked is about phone calling. How do I call a person in Korea from my country or how do I call someone living outside Korea? The majority of the time, you will be calling with a cellphone.
If you brought your cell phone from home, it will still work in most cases, but you will need a sim card. Fortunately, you can purchase sim cards in South Korea.
If you brought your cellphone from home, it will be a good idea to turn off the cellphones roaming service, and with good reason. If you used roaming service from your countries mobile data plan, you could be billed with international charges. You could find yourself holding a cellphone bill from your carrier at home costing hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
The most important item needed for the cellphone is the sim card. What is a sim card?
SIM Card Explained
A SIM card is a small microchip card that goes into your cell phone. It is also known as a subscriber identity module. It keeps data like the user identity, location, network authorization data, personal security keys, text messages, and contact lists. It is a unique identifier for your cell phone.
Without the SIM card, your phone will still be a great paperweight or ninja phone to throw. Theoretically, you can take your personal SIM card and put it into another phone and use the phone. The call works if you are within a country’s mobile carrier that you bought the SIM card from. Or you can buy SIM cards from different countries and put it into one phone. Just remember, if you are not in the country where you bought the SIM card, then you might need to buy another SIM card to make international phone calls.
Phones require a SIM card because it allows the phone to connect to a phone network. In South Korea, the leading three mobile carrier operators are SK Telecom, LG U+, and Olleh. They provide 3G, 4G, and later 5G cellular network connectivity. From my personal experience, I recommend getting SK Telecom or Olleh.
I’ve bought SIM cards in Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea and used each SIM card when I was in that country. When I stayed in Vietnam, I used a SIM card purchased in Vietnam. A SIM card from Singapore will not work in Vietnam, a card from Vietnam will not work in South Korea. I asked the SIM card seller to give me a SIM card compatible with my Samsung Note 5. You will have to do the same, ask for a compatible SIM card for your phone. Sometimes there will not be a compatible SIM card. Then you will have to buy a cellphone within that country or make calls from a pay phone or hotel.
A Cool Feature With Having A SIM Card
If you lose your cell phone, you can track it down thanks to the SIM card inside the cellphone. Apple has an application, “Find My iPhone” and Android has an application called “Find My Device,” it will find your phone’s location from its signal and GPS.
The SIM card is packing big with 64 kilobytes of memory. That’s a ridiculously small amount of memory, smartphones today have at a minimum 32 gigabytes of memory. But, that amount of memory is plenty for the SIM card.
Time Zone Differences
The first thing before calling from Korea to another country is to know the local time of the country you are calling. You don’t want to call someone and find the person is sleeping.
South Korea and Japan have the same time zone. Korea is one hour ahead of China, nine hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and fourteen hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Or you can visit https://www.timeanddate.com. South Korea does not use daylight savings time.
Making An International Call From Korea to Another Country:
Calling Korea or from Korea to another country is easy if you know how to do it. The most important thing is to know the country code. The basic formula is:
The formula is exit code + country code + area code + phone number. Below is an example. You should now see how easy is to call your country from Korea.
Exit Code – Some of the codes are 001, 002, 008, 00345, 00700, 00388. Depends on who your cellular provider is.
001 is KT International Calling
002 is LG Dacom International Calling
005 is Hanaro Telecom International Calling
006 is SK Telink International Calling
008 is Onse Telecom International Calling
For the Exit Code, you will need to know what Korean cellular provider company you are getting service. Example: KT is 001. Mine is LG (002).
Country Code – Singapore is 65. You can find that at www.countrycode.org. United States is 1. Korea is 82. Here is a comprehensive list of country codes.
Area Code – Example: There are nine area codes in Singapore. For example, 644 is Bedok.
Telephone Number – 123-4567
You would dial/enter the number on your phone like this: 001-65-644-123-4567. You will then be connected and be in contact with that phone number.
Example: Calling Someone In The United States
Exit Code: 001
Country Code: 1
Area Code: 360
Phone Number: 904-3382
Dial This: 001-1-360-904-3382
Note: You don’t need to enter the dashes, only the numbers.
Remember, you will have to consider the time zone and time difference from Korea to wherever you are trying to reach and vice versa. Get your time zone here.
How to call Korea from your home country, example: USA.
Formula: International Prefix Code + Country Code + City Code + Phone Number
You want to call a friend in Seoul, Korea from the United States. Maybe me? Just kidding.
International prefix code – for the United States it’s 011. It is the exit code that allows you to call outside the United States.
Country Code: For Korea, it is 82
City Code: For Seoul, it is 2
Phone Number: 6, 7 digits or 8 digits.
Example: 011-82-2-2345-2345. You don’t enter the dashes, only the numbers on your phone.
Major City Codes In Korea You Should Know
If a city code in Korea is needed, then find it below. If your friend lives in Seoul, the code is 2.
Calling Within Korea To Someone Else in Korea
Usually, you will be dialing a cell phone number because the majority of locals only have a cell phone nowadays.
You have a cell phone in South Korea and want to call someone who has a cell phone in South Korea. Do this. For domestic long distance calls (Seoul to Busan) press 0 first, 1-2 digit area code or the 2-digit cellular prefix. The cellular designation always begins with a 1. So if you wanted to call a local Korean cellphone number, press 0, then the mobile prefix number, and then the subscriber six digit number.
For local calls, dial the person’s subscriber number. Usually, it is 6, 7 or even eight digit number
Toll-free numbers start with 80. Always press 0 before dialing the toll-free number in Korea.
Other Methods To Call
1. Landline phone – a traditional phone before the cellphones came into the market. This conventional type of phone method is replaced with the cell.
2. Payphones – These are less frequently found throughout Korea because almost everyone uses cell phones. But they can be located conveniently for both locals and travelers at the airport, subway stations and sometimes on the streets.
These payphones can accept coins, calling cards, and even credit cards. Some of these payphones will only accept coins, others will take coins, and prepaid calling cards (like T-Money) and credit cards, and other phones will accept prepaid cards and credit cards. There is not a standard of payment methods acceptable from these phones. It can be any combination of accepted payment methods. There is no standard today because cell phones are the standard for communication.
Other Important Information
You can buy prepaid phone cards at shops, machines, convenience stores in multiple denominations of W3,000, W5,000, W10,000. The W means Won, the name of Korea’s currency. Calling local is around 70 won for every 180 seconds. Calls to mobile phones will be approximately 70 won for every 38 seconds. You can make local, long distance, and international calls with these prepaid phone cards.
One of the best data plans for travelers that require a short-term data plan is from three companies in Korea. These companies have been voted the best from frequent travelers. You can’t go wrong with them, and you won’t get scammed. The three companies are:
1. Olleh (Formerly KT)
2. SK Telecom
3. LG U+ (Formerly LG Telecom)
SK Telecom has their GPS navigation app called T-Map, which is considered one of the best in South Korea.
After you have a working cellphone, get Kakao Talk. It’s a smartphone application that you can download from smartphone stores like Google Play Store. It is a major cellphone add on application providing free international phone calls while piggybacking on the data plan. They even have franchise stores throughout Korea, and is very popular. You can’t go wrong with them.
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DISCLAIMER: The paragraphs above is my attempt at Korean English humor. I am a Korean-American, so I believe it is ok. If you don’t like it, then don’t read the paragraphs above. Too late, you already done it.