2012 Guide to Getting a Cell Phone in South Korea

If you’re like me (before August 14, 2012), I read everything that I could find on “how to get a phone in Korea” before coming back to Seoul. Back when I was in Busan between 2006-2010, I realized like all foreigners that I only had the following options to get a “hand phone” right away:

  • Pay the 500,000 won or more down (usually closer to 800,000-1,000,000+ won for most smart phones these days) on top of the monthly fees to get service
  • Get a used phone to avoid the huge up front fees
  • Or get a local citizen to sponsor me (which I was fortunate to have happen at the time because Koreans are literally the “friendliest people in the world”)

Basically, it makes a lot of sense that Korean Telecom companies (KT Telecom [Olleh], SK Telecom [T-world], or LG Telecom [U+]) to make it difficult for people who are not planning to stay in Korea for the long term, but instead to only give out phones on plans they mostly offer their citizens. Foreigners many times can’t fulfill the 2-3 year commitments that they require to pay off the 800,000-1,000,000+ million they collect over the 2-3 years of an agreement. They know they’ll get that entire amount back from a native Korean though. So, all you need is a Korean citizenship and you’re good to go.

Well, obviously, you most likely aren’t a Korean citizen if you’re reading this post.

Fortunately, you’re in luck! You now can get the latest in phone technology here in Korea as an expat and get the great monthly deals that Korean citizens get. How?

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