If you’re planning a trip to South Korea, having a sim card is essential for easy navigation and staying connected. With internet access, you can easily discover the best restaurants, find your way to your accommodation, book taxis, and share your travel experiences with your loved ones on the go.
While roaming is an option, it can quickly become expensive when traveling internationally. Therefore, we highly recommend getting an eSIM or a local sim card to enjoy local phone rates. Luckily, obtaining either option in South Korea is incredibly convenient, but it’s important to determine which one suits you best.
This comprehensive guide provides everything you need to know about purchasing a sim card in South Korea, including current pricing and the ideal sim card for your needs.
The best sim card in South Korea is the LG U+ prepaid South Korea sim card. This sim card offers unlimited data for 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40 or 6 days, allowing you to purchase a sim card for exactly the number of days you require. Prices start at 27,500 KRW for 5 days and go up to 143,000 KRW for 60 days.
All three mobile operators in South Korea, SK Telecom, KT South Korea and LG U+ have extensive and roughly comparable networks so whichever one you choose will work well for your trip. LG U+ has slightly better coverage but the catch is it can only be purchased at their kiosk at the airport.
For just slightly more I recommend purchasing an Airalo South Korea eSim over the local sim cards such as the LG U+ prepaid sim card. The Airalo South Korea eSim costs 41,000 KRW ($32 USD) for 10 days of unlimited data which is just slightly more expensive, however, eSims are always more convenient than lining up and purchasing a physical sim card. Airalo even uses the LG U+ network so you’re getting the exact same plan.
A Tourist Sim Card in South Korea costs between 34,500 and 38,500 KRW in February 2024, however, the exact price will often depend on the store you visit and the plan you choose.
Alternatively, an eSim in South Korea will cost between $32 USD and $62 USD. This, again, depends on how much data you require and which eSim provider you choose.
I generally recommend this Airalo plan for most tourists visiting South Korea which includes Unlimited GB of data which is valid for 10 days and costs $32 USD.
South Korea boasts a highly advanced mobile network infrastructure, largely driven by three main SIM card providers: SK Telecom, KT South Korea (formerly Korea Telekom), and LG U+. SK Telecom, leading the market share, offers diverse plans and services that cater to different customer needs. With its nationwide coverage and cutting-edge technology, SK Telecom is known for providing high-quality voice and data services. KT South Korea, another major player, offers competitive prices and reliable network coverage, ensuring seamless connectivity across the country. Last but not least, LG U+ also contributes to the market with its extensive network coverage and a range of attractive plans. Together, these three providers form the backbone of the South Korean telecommunications industry.
SK Telecom is a leading telecommunications company in South Korea. They offer tourist SIM cards to cater to the needs of international travelers visiting the country. These SIM cards provide visitors with high-speed internet access, allowing them to stay connected during their trip. SK Telecom’s tourist SIM cards also include local and international call services, making it convenient for travelers to communicate with their loved ones. With wide coverage and reliable network services, SK Telecom ensures an enjoyable and hassle-free experience for tourists exploring South Korea.
The price of a SK Telecom tourist sim card in South Korea is $26.9 USD (34,500 KRW).
The plan offered by SK Telecom stores includes Unlimited 4G data (throttled at 1GB per day) valid for 10 days (different durations available).
KT South Korea, formerly known as Korea Telekom, is a leading telecommunications company in South Korea. They provide exceptional services to both locals and tourists visiting the country. One of their notable offerings is their tourist SIM cards, designed to meet the communication needs of travelers. These SIM cards offer reliable network coverage, high-speed data, and affordable rates. With KT South Korea’s tourist SIM cards, visitors can stay connected during their trip, making it easier to explore and navigate the beautiful country.
The price of a KT South Korea (formerly Korea Telekom) tourist sim card in South Korea is 38,500 KRW.
The plan offered by KT South Korea (formerly Korea Telekom) stores offers unlimited data & calls valid for 10 days (different periods also available).
LG U+ is a leading telecommunications company in South Korea renowned for their exceptional tourist sim cards. These sim cards provide seamless connectivity to international travelers, ensuring uninterrupted communication and internet access during their visit. With affordable data plans and extensive network coverage, tourists can explore the beautiful landscapes and immerse in the rich culture of South Korea without worrying about connectivity issues. LG U+ is a reliable choice for tourists seeking reliable and convenient telecommunication services in South Korea.
The price of a LG U+ tourist sim card in South Korea is 38,500 KRW.
The plan offered by LG U+ stores includes unlimited data & calls valid for 10 days (different periods also available).
Identify mobile providers: SK Telecom, KT South Korea (formerly Korea Telekom) and LG U+ are your best options in South Korea.
Find your nearest store: Locate a store or retailer by searching on Google Maps for your nearest store or asking at your hotel reception. I’ve never had issues finding a store as they can usually be found in major cities, shopping centers, or tourist areas. If possible, I always recommend to to avoid airports and head in to an official store in the city.
Bring the necessary documents: It is always a good idea to carry your passport or identification documents for sim card registration purposes. We’ve found most providers will need to confirm your identity to provide a sim card and it can be a major hassle to head to a store only to have to come back again later with your passport.
Choose your plan: Either request the plan you are after or consult with the staff in the store to select the right plan for you. My recommendations at the beginning of this guide are a good starting point, but the staff will usually be able to suggest the best option.
Pay and activate your card: Pay for the SIM card and plan, and the staff will activate it for you.
Test: It’s always a good idea to check that you can access the internet before you leave the store. I always search for something on Google then refresh my Instagram feed to check it’s working fine.
Buying a prepaid sim card for South Korea at the airport is usually considered the most convenient option for travellers arriving by plane.
However, airport stores selling sim cards are almost guaranteed to charge inflated prices, so if you are a cost-conscious traveller then you should definitely buy your sim card from a store in the city center.
In addition to this, we would argue that buying physical sim cards at all aren’t particularly convenient now that most people use esim compatible phones. If you are looking for the most convenient option, then buying an esim before you arrive or with the airport wifi is much easier and will save you having to queue up or communicate with staff.
If you must purchase a sim card at the airport in South Korea then you will be in luck. All major international airports in South Korea have stores selling sim cards. Despite the prices being higher than normal, the staff are knowledgable and will be able to get you set up with the correct sim card relatively quickly.
If you want to avoid the inflated sim card prices you’ll find at the airport and your phone isn’t esim compatible, then you’re going to need to head in to a store to buy your sim card.
I recommend visiting one of the official retail stores of the mobile internet operators such as SK Telecom, KT South Korea (formerly Korea Telekom) and LG U+. Your best option is to enter their names into Google Maps and find the branch closest to your hotel or accommodation. Typically the staff in the official stores in South Korea are knowledgable and helpful which means you can ensure you’ll walk away with a functioning sim card.
Despite this, it’s always a good idea to check your internet is working before you leave the store by loading a Google search results page and your preferred social media app. You should also ensure you always bring your passport with you when purchasing a sim card in case they need to register it.
If you like to be prepared and would prefer to arrive in South Korea with your sim card all sorted and your phone ready to connect to the internet immediately then you should look into purchasing a sim card online.
The first option is to buy your sim card in advance via SimOptions, which is a company that will prepare and ship a sim card directly to your door. It’s a reliable and effective service, but with the invention of eSims it’s becoming obsolete.
The better option is to purchase an eSim online. We’ve written more on that below!
An eSim is a digital version of a traditional sim card and is most likely the future of connectivity for mobile devices. The convenience of no longer visiting a store, handing over your passport and purchasing a physical sim card is quickly making physical sim cards obsolete in favour of eSims.
We recommend Airalo’s eSim when travelling to South Korea. The Airalo South Korea eSim offers fast internet speeds, wide coverage and extremely competitive prices making it a far more compelling option than purchasing a physical sim card from any of the local sim card providers.
In order to get set up with an Airalo eSim, all you need to do is visit Airalo here and purchase the eSim online (the $32 USD plan is suitable for most travellers). Once you’ve purchased the sim card Airalo will email you instructions and a QR code. Following these instructions should take just a couple of minutes, then you’ll have a sim card in South Korea without having to venture outside.
Our preferred eSim provider in South Korea is Airalo. We used them, alongside a local sim card on another device, for our most recent trip to South Korea and found the service to be equal to the local sim card but without the hassle of acquiring a sim card in a store.
Airalo’s South Korea eSim uses the LG U+ network to provide data and connect users to the internet. You can expect very good coverage and reliability with the LG U+ networknetwork as they are amongst the best mobile internet operators in South Korea.
Here are the plans and prices for Airalo’s South Korea eSim:
Unlimited data valid for 10 days – Price: $32 USD
Unlimited data valid for 30 days – Price: $62 USD
For most travellers we recommend the Unlimited GB data plan for $32 USD which is valid for 10 days. Some travellers may prefer a larger plan, whilst travellers visiting for just a couple of days may be fine with a smaller plan.
An alternative eSim provider we can recommend is Holafly.
Holafly’s eSim is a suitable option for travellers who require large amounts of data, such as digital nomads and people who work online while they travel. All of Holafly’s South Korea eSims offer unlimited data.
Holafly’s South Korea eSim uses the SK Telecom / KTFnetwork to provide data and connect users to the internet. This network will provide reliable speeds and coverage while in South Korea
Here are the plans and prices for Holafly’s South Korea eSim:
8GB data valid for 30 days – Price: $47 USD
An eSIM, also known as embedded SIM, is a digital SIM card that is built into a device like a smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch. Unlike traditional physical SIM cards, an eSIM does not require physical insertion or removal from the device.
Rather, the eSIM is integrated into the device’s hardware and can be remotely activated and programmed by a mobile network operator. This enables users to switch between different mobile networks or plans without the need to physically swap SIM cards.
eSIM technology provides convenience, flexibility, and ease of use, particularly for frequent travelers or individuals who switch between mobile networks or travel internationally. It eliminates the hassle of purchasing and inserting physical SIM cards, making it more convenient to manage multiple mobile connections on one device.
Activating an eSIM involves scanning a QR code provided by the mobile network operator or manually entering the activation details. Once activated, the device can connect to the selected mobile network and enjoy the same voice, data, and messaging services as with a traditional SIM card.
The benefits of using an eSIM include convenience, dual SIM functionality, space-saving, remote provisioning, and future-proofing. With an eSIM, you can switch between mobile networks or plans without physically changing the SIM card. It also allows you to have two active mobile numbers on one device, making it useful for separating personal and work numbers or managing multiple lines. The embedded eSIM eliminates the need for a physical SIM card slot, creating more space for other components or reducing the device’s size. Activation and management of mobile plans can be done remotely with eSIMs, without the need for a physical SIM card or visiting a store. As eSIM technology gains popularity, more networks and providers are supporting it, ensuring users can take advantage of new services in the future. Overall, eSIM technology offers flexibility, convenience, and future-proofing for mobile connectivity.
eSIM technology is becoming increasingly popular and is supported by a growing number of smartphones and other devices. Here are some examples of eSIM-compatible phones:
Apple iPhone series (iPhone 11, iPhone 12, iPhone 13, etc.): Apple was one of the early adopters of eSIM technology and offers support for eSIM on various iPhone models.
Google Pixel series (Pixel 3, Pixel 4, Pixel 5, etc.): Google’s Pixel smartphones also support eSIM functionality, allowing users to activate and use eSIMs.
Samsung Galaxy series (Galaxy S22, Galaxy Note 20, etc.): Many of Samsung’s flagship devices now come with eSIM support, enabling users to utilize eSIM technology.
OnePlus devices (OnePlus 7, OnePlus 8, etc.): OnePlus has included eSIM support in some of its smartphone models, offering users the flexibility of using eSIMs.
Motorola Razr (2020): The latest iteration of the iconic Motorola Razr features eSIM compatibility, enabling users to use eSIMs for cellular connectivity.
These are just a few examples, and the list of eSIM-compatible phones continues to expand as more manufacturers embrace this technology. There’s a very strong chance your phone supports eSims so if you’re unsure we recommend looking it up on our list of eSim supported phones.
Using an eSim is new for many travellers, however, the good news is it’s surprisingly easy to get set up – even for the technologically challenged!
Here’s a general guide on how to use an eSIM:
Check eSIM Compatibility: Ensure that your device supports eSIM functionality. Many newer smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, and other devices are eSIM compatible including all iPhones produced since 2018.
Obtain an eSIM: There are multiple ways to acquire an eSIM. You can purchase an eSIM online from a provider like Airalo (which we recommend) or directly from a mobile network operator. Some devices also allow you to scan a QR code provided by your carrier to download the eSIM profile.
Activate the eSIM: Your eSim provider will send you instructions to activate the sim. This will usually involve scanning a QR code, entering an activation code, or downloading the eSIM profile directly onto your device.
Set up the eSIM: Once activated, your device will guide you through the eSIM setup process. This typically involves selecting the eSIM as your preferred mobile plan, configuring settings like data roaming, and entering any necessary authentication details.
Enjoy the Connection: Once the eSIM is set up, you can use it as you would with a physical SIM card. Make calls, send messages, browse the internet, and use data services as needed. You can also switch between eSIM profiles if you have multiple eSIMs installed on your device.
Hi, I’m Mitchell. I’m a full-time traveller, explorer and travel blogger. Travel Sim Expert is a blog dedicated to helping you find the best sim card for you, no matter where you are or what your budget is.