How to Sogang: Getting a SIM/wifi egg

SIM card rentals/phone plans/wifi egg/public wifi:

Those are basically the options you have when choosing how to stay in contact with your friends/family back home as well as the new friends you’ll meet in Korea. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks.

BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING! UNLOCK YOUR SMARTPHONE!

How: Source and guide to unlocking your phone.

  • online: AT&T and T-Mobile
  • calling customer support: Sprint
  • might not be able to be unlocked: Sprint iPhones
  • won’t need to be unlocked: Verizon
  • different carrier or aren’t from the US: you’ll have to do a little research on your own.

SIM card rental

  • Renting a SIM card is my recommendation over everything.

Recommendation: EG SIM

  • Best rates.
    • even over SIM rentals through major Korean phone service providers and the Arrival Store
  • You don’t need an ARC card or a Korean bank account.
    • You can pay for everything with your regular credit card
  • You’re not locked into a contact
    • You pay per month so you don’t have to worry about knowing how long you’re going to stay in Korea
  • Get access to Olleh public wifi.
    • which can usually be picked up in subway stations and other places
    • now they are even starting to provide wifi on some subways and busses
  • You can top-up
    • If you find yourself out of data, you can top-up whenever you want so you pay for the amount of data you need.
    • Note: You can only top-up your data once you have completely run out of data.
  • Only people who hold a foreign passport and DON’T have an Alien Registration Card can get this SIM. So people who have a D-4 visa or any visa that lets them stay beyond 90 days are not qualified for this.

Price:

  • 5 gigs
    • W60,000 (W30,000 during promotion) for first month + activation fees
    • W44,000 per month after that
  • 1 gig
    • W30,000 (W15,000 during promotion) for first month + activation fees
    • W16,500 per month after that
  • After you get the SIM you can top-up with smaller amounts of data if you wish
    • 2 gigs for W22,000
    • 500MB for W11,000
    • 100MB for W5,500

Getting your SIM

  • You need your PASSPORT to get your SIM!
  • Order Online and Have It Delivered for W3,000 (~$2.68):
    • The SIM can be delivered to wherever you want in Korea for a W3,000 shipping charge (make sure that your host at your hostel is okay with you ordering packages to be delivered at the hostel).
    • If you choose this option, your SIM will be activated for you and ready to used when you get it.
    • They recently changed something where you cannot have a nano SIM (SIMs that work for iPhones) delivered. You can only pick up nano SIMs from a pick-up location. I’m not sure if this is temporary or if this is now permanent.
  • Order Online and Pick Up at Pick-up Place for Free:
    • If you or your host is uncomfortable with giving their phone number or if you’re uncomfortable with traveling to your hostel without data, you can pick the SIM up at a pick-up location.
    • There are several locations including ones in the Incheon airport. Here is a link to the locations and how to find them.
    • I think that if you choose to pick up at a pick-up location, your SIM will already be activated also. Make sure you ask.
  • Order at a Store or Basically Any GS25:
    • If you or your host is uncomfortable with giving their phone number or if you’re uncomfortable with traveling to your hostel without data, you can pick the SIM up at a pick-up location.
    • There is one location in the Incheon airport. They even have a video of how to get to it on their homepage at the bottom.
    • Also at a location in Seoul Station or a store in Myeongdong or at basically any GS25 (a very common convenience store). Here is a link to the locations.
    • If you do this, you will have to activate the SIM yourself. You can do this by following the instructions online or in the instructions booklet included with the SIM.

After Activation

  • Now you need to change your phone’s APN.
    • Each phone is programmed to pick up only a certain frequency so if you have an American phone, it will only try to pick up signals from American service providers.
    • So you need to change your phone’s settings so that it will pick up frequencies from Korean service providers.
    • There are instructions online as well as in the manual you are given with the SIM.
    • If you have an iphone, you are unable to change your phone’s APN manually, so the solution is to follow the instructions online/in the user manual and download an app that will change it for you.
      • Unfortunately, this app is not available in the app store so you have to go online and download it. It’s free.
IMG_6310

Click the button directly to the right of the “welcome” button at the bottom

IMG_6311

After changing it to Korea and KT, click create APN. An app will appear on your phone.

IMG_6312

This should be in your settings now. Now you need to restart your phone. You might need to restart it several times.

Download the EG SIM Card App

  • After you’ve changed the APN and your phone is working, you can download the EG SIM Card app.
  • You can do everything you need to online without the app as long as you have Internet Explorer on your computer.
    • If your computer doesn’t run Internet Explorer, you might have some trouble with the website, so downloading the app is useful.
  • The app is called EG SIM Card. Unfortunately, you’ll need to enter your phone number every time to access your account.

Renewing Plan

  • If your data has not run out, but you’ve reached the end of your 30 days, you cannot roll over your data and there is no way to refund unused data.
    • You will receive texts that will warn you when your plan is going to expire in both Korean and English.
  • At the end of your 30 days, you need to terminate/cancel your data plan. This will not cancel your SIM subscription.
IMG_6315

Click on the “application for data plans/cancellation of data plans” button

  • Once your data plan has been terminated, your data will be 0.
    • You will receive a confirmation text as well as other texts that warn you that if you do not renew, it will start charging you the not-prepaid rate.
  • Now you need to buy more voice credit.
    • On the above picture, click the button that says “how to recharge voice balance of EG SIM”
    • You must buy at least W10,000 or else your plan will not renew.
    • Once you buy more voice credit, it will renew your SIM and your voice credit will carry over to the next month. (Your voice credits are valid for longer than your data. Voice credits are valid for 90 days, data is valid for only 30 days.)
    • When you buy more voice credit, it will give you a confirmation text that says something like “[EGM] 10,000won,카드결제성공,Payment is completed.”
  • Now you can transfer your voice balance for data.
    • So if you’re on the 1G plan, you can transfer W16,500 of voice credits and get 1G of data.
    • You must have at least 500MB of data or you won’t be able to access Olleh wifi.
  • You will get a series of confirmation texts in both Korean and English.
    • The important one is the one that says “[EGM] 데이터 충전 완료. Top-up for data has been completed. (1GB)”
    • If you have received this text, you are fine. Sometimes you will receive the confirmation texts from other steps in the renewal process late, but don’t panic. As long as you received that text above, everything has gone well.

Returning your SIM

  • SIM cards can’t be reused so you don’t need to return your SIM

Wifi egg (portable wifi router)

  • Will give you wifi access everywhere you go
    • don’t have to worry about the hassle of switching your number or paying for things you won’t use.
    • Because everyone in Korea uses KakaoTalk to text and even call (see my part about KakaoTalk in this post), a wifi egg will give you unlimited access to this app wherever you are.
  • Can connect multiple devices to it
    • including your laptop
  • Data is unlimited with most eggs
    • basically you can turn off your phone’s data without worry

Recommendation: SK Telecom’s wifi egg

  • Cheapest egg plan:
    • SK and Olleh (KT) have identical plans, but I kept reading customer reviews that said that SK had more/better coverage than Olleh—even with Olleh’s cheaper “Seoul-only” plan.

Price:

  • 100,000-200,000 won deposit
    • that will be returned to you when you’re done.
    • must be done on a credit card (not a debit card)
  • 5000 won a day
    • must be done on a credit card (not a debit card)
  • 10% VAT
    • value added tax
  • price simulator
    • on the SK site so you can figure out about how much you’ll be paying total. (Make sure to factor in your international charge for using your credit card overseas too.)
  • billed every 15 days
    • so twice a month
    • be prepared for that international charge from your bank.
  • ~$134 a month total
    • it broke down to be about ~$67 every 15 days
    • this is much more expensive than just renting a SIM

Getting Your Egg:

  • Reserve the device ahead of time on their site.
  • Incheon airport booth pick-up

Returning Your Egg:

  • Incheon airport booth

Also:

  • [not sure if you can rent without an ARC card?]
  • [not sure if you can rent without a Korean bank account?]
  • [not sure if the speed slow down after reaching a certain amount of data used?]

Public wifi

  • Personally, I don’t recommend trying to survive off Korean public wifi.
  • You might have heard rumor that South Korea has the fastest wifi in the world and is an Eden of free wifi. That is true…if you have a phone plan.
  • Most of the public wifi that you will pick up is provided by phone companies, so they’ll only let you have access to it if they are already your service provider. So all that free Olleh wifi is only available if you have an Olleh plan.
  • And there’s also the problem of there not being free wifi everywhere. If you’re like me, you don’t like having to chance things, and being lost in Korea without access to googlemaps was something that I was always worried about when I was in Korea last time.

If you are wondering about other things to buy/pack in preparation for going to Korea as a student, check out my post here.

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